Russian sailor’s 1969 message in a bottle washes up in Alaska

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An Alaska man’s hunt for firewood ended with the discovery of a different kind after he came across a 50-year-old message in a bottle.

Tyler Ivanoff found a letter written in Russian, and posted an appeal for a translation on his Facebook page.

It transpired the letter had been written by a sailor on board the Russian ship Sulak on 20 June 1969.

The story was picked up by Russian media, which tracked down the letter-writer, Captain Anatoly Botsanenko.

Mr Ivanoff said he had been searching for firewood some 20 miles (32 km) west of his home village of Shishmaref when he came upon the bottle, with a plastic cork stopper.

“I had to pull really hard. I used my teeth to really work it out,” he told The Nome Nugget newspaper.

“It was still dry on the inside and still smelled like wine or whatever, old alcohol. The note was dry.”

His appeal on Facebook prompted a translation of the still legible note:

“Sincere greetings! From the Russian Far East Fleet mother ship VRXF Sulak. I greet you who finds the bottle and request that you respond to the address Vladivostok -43 BRXF Sulak to the whole crew. We wish you good health and long years of life and happy sailing. 20 June 1969.”

When Cpt Botsanenko, now 86 years old, was told of the note he reportedly burst into tears of joy.

He told the Russian TV channel Rossiya 1: “It looks like my handwriting. For sure! East industry fishing fleet! E-I-F-F!”

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Cpt Botsanenko was reported to have overseen the construction of the Sulak in 1966 and sailed on it until 1970.

Mr Ivanoff noted on Facebook that it was “pretty cool how a small photo grew into a story”, and has said he may consider launching his own message in a bottle one day.

“That’s something I could probably do with my kids in the future,” he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. “Just send a message in a bottle out there and see where it goes.”

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