After more than 30 years at sea, a message in a bottle washes up near Skagway

A woman in a yellow jacket and hat and gloves holds a bottle.
Pam Joy and her message in a bottle on the Dyea Flats. (Mike Swasey/KHNS)

A Skagway resident has found a message in a bottle washed up on a beach with no indication of who sent it — or from where. Now she’s looking for help to find its sender.

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The beach at the Dyea Flats sits at the northernmost tip of the Inside Passage. Once a Gold Rush boomtown, Dyea is now home to a few dozen residents and a recreational area managed by the Skagway Borough.

On the beach, among a pile of washed-up logs, branches and general flotsam, Dyea resident Pam Joy stumbled across one of those special finds that beachcombers always hope to discover. A message in a bottle.

The message Pam Joy found in a bottle washed up on the Dyea flats. (courtesy of Pam Joy)

“I was walking along the flats, like I always do. Picking up trash, like I always do. And I saw this bottle peeking out, and I picked it up and was just about ready to chuck it in my bag. And I saw there was a piece of paper in it,” Joy said. “It said Happy New Year 1987!”

The tides had been over 20 feet a couple of days before, with winds gusting 40 mph. Joy thinks it was the combination of the two that may have dislodged the bottle from wherever it had been resting.

“I’m amazed that it had been in the water this long and not been broken,” Joy said. “Maybe it really hasn’t traveled very far. Or maybe it came from Australia. Who knows? Who knows?”

The bottle is clear glass with a beige plastic screw-on top. The safety seal is still attached.

“The only other clue I have is that there’s a Rite in the Rain logo at the bottom of the piece of paper. And it’s in a liquor bottle. So, you know, New Year’s Eve, I’m sure there was alcohol involved in this event,” Joy said.

Rite in the Rain paper has been around for over a century. This piece has been ripped out of a small spiral notebook with the spiral at the top of the page. The message was written in black ink.

It definitely looks like an adult. It’s kind of like cursive writing,” Joy said.

But the sender of this message in a bottle didn’t include any other information.

I really wish that I had some way to identify who it was or how far it’s come and where it came from. I would like to be able to let the person know who wrote this that I found it where I found it,” Joy said.

She posted a photo of the bottle on social media and asked friends to share, but she hasn’t had any luck tracking down the sender.

I grew up in Maine and spent lots of time on the beach. And I even worked on a fishing boat in Maine, hauling traps and hauling up things out of the bottom of the ocean,” Joy said. “Many, many years on the beach. And this is the first message in the bottle I’ve ever found, so I’m very excited.”

Joy says that unless she miraculously figures out who sent the message, she’ll add it to her collection in her home in Dyea.

If you have information about this message in a bottle, please email

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