A man in Alaska was walking with his children on a local shoreline on Aug. 5 when he spotted a conspicuous bottle. To his surprise, inside was a nearly perfectly preserved letter written 50 years ago by a Cold War-era Russian sailor.
“I was just gathering firewood; everyone was just kind of picking berries,” Tyler Ivanoff told the Anchorage Daily News. “I just happened to stumble across the bottle, and I noticed it was a green bottle and had a cork top. Not really cork, it was a tight cap, and I could see inside the bottle there was a note.”
According to Ivanoff, his children were excited by the find, and hoped it was a "pirate's note or treasure."
Inside the bottle, Ivanoff found two pieces of paper, one blank and one with a handwritten letter. Thanks to his Russian classes in high school and college, Ivanoff was able to make out the letters on the paper but wasn't able to properly translate the message.
So, he took to Facebook. While it may have taken 50 years for this message in a bottle to be found, in just three days, Ivanoff's request for a translation was shared over 1,000 times.
Eventually, Russian speakers were able to deduce that the letter was a greeting from the Russian navy.
“Sincere greetings!” the letter, dated June 20, 1969, read. “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.”
The state-owned Russian media network, Russia 1, set out to find the sailor who wrote the letter, Captain Anatoliy Botsanenko.
Botsanenko, who was once the youngest captain in the Pacific at 33 years old, said he sent the message from the Sulak. He had overseen the construction of the ship in 1966 and sailed on it until 1970.
Ivanoff is unsure if he will respond to the letter, but finding the bottle has inspired him to send a message out into the sea with his children and "see where it goes."
Tyler Ivanoff did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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