MILTON, Del – One Sussex County woman has been reunited with a letter she wrote 35 years ago. A kayaker found it floating in a bottle earlier this month and was able to track her down.
“Please write back when you receive this and tell us about yourself,” the letter says.
Cathi Riddle and her friend Stacey Wells put the letter in a bottle on Aug. 1, 1985.
“We like animals a lot,” Riddle reads from the letter. “Do you have any pets? We have a dog.”
“My cousin and I were staying at the beach and we decided to write the letter and send it out and see how far it went,” Riddle, of Milton, says.
The girls threw the bottle into the water at Prime Hook Beach. Just over 35 years later, Brad Wachsmuth found the mobile time capsule while he was kayaking on the Broadkill River.
“It was very innocent and nice,” Wachsmuth says. “As we usually do as kayakers, we try to pick up trash out of the water when we can.”
Wachsmuth says he found the bottle floating on the Broadkill about two miles offshore on Aug. 8, 2020, just a few days after Tropical Storm Isaias churned up the water.
“My friend Jeff said, ‘I think there’s something in there,’ so when we got to shore I pulled the bottle out of the back of the kayak, opened it and found the letter,” Wachsmuth says.
Wachsmuth went to the Milton Historical Society to get in touch with Riddle, who grew up in Milton. The curator reached out to family, who still lives in the area, to put the two in touch. The letter was returned to its author on Aug. 20, 2020.
“With the tides and the amount of storms that come here, tropical storms, nor’easters, hurricanes, over 35 years you would expect that it wouldn’t end up in the same waters,” Wachsmuth says.
“It didn’t travel very far, but perhaps it traveled the world and came back,” says Riddle.