FRANKFORT — A whiskey bottle that apparently was tossed into Lake Michigan off the coast of Frankfort 25 years ago was recently found in the Gulf of Mexico by a Florida resident.
Or so the story goes.
Inside was a note with the words “Frankfort, Michigan” and dated June 16, 1995: “Hello ... I’ve tossed this bottle into the water to bring joy to anyone who finds it. This whiskey bottle was full a few short hours earlier.”
The note-writer included his phone number and said he would buy the finder of the bottle a drink.
Gary Henrickson, of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., found the bottle on Memorial weekend while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We were swimming and it floated by,” Henrickson said. “It was just kind of bobbing around in the water and I grabbed it.”
The bottle was completely sealed. Everyone on the beach was excited and wanted him to open it, he said, but he took it home to uncork it.
The bottle looks like it has been beat around, Henrickson said, and when he pulled the note out it had a bourbon-y smell to it.
He texted the number and got a response right away. They texted back and forth for a little bit, but Henrickson never actually talked to him and does not know his name or where he lives.
The man told Henrickson he was 24 years old when he tossed the bottle into the lake and was a pretty heavy drinker at the time.
“He told me that was a bad time in his life,” Henrickson said. “He wrote that note and threw it in the water.”
The tale has captivated users on Facebook, where it was first posted. It has also raised some hackles.
Tim Maylone, who owns Cherry Capital Communications, says it is possible that the man could have have kept the same phone number all these years. But getting a text on that number?
“Twenty-five years ago you couldn’t text,” Maylone said. “It is feasible that the phone number was ported to a cellphone that could accept a text.”
But Maylone has his doubts.
“I’m a betting man and I would be real suspicious,” Maylone said. “It’s a cute story, but I would say, ‘no way.’”
Waterways expert Hans Van Sumeren is also dubious.
Van Sumeren, director of Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, said it is possible that the bottle traveled The Great Loop, which is a series of natural and man-made waterways that loop around the eastern United States and parts of Canada.
Possible, but not very likely, Van Sumeren said.
Boaters often travel the loop, going north through the Straits of Mackinac and through the Erie Canal to the Eastern Seaboard and south around Florida to the Gulf. They can also start from Chicago, where they’ll connect with the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to get to the Gulf.
But the bottle would have been at the mercy of channels and locks and currents and winds, making its chances of spilling out into the Gulf of Mexico minuscule, Van Sumeren said.
It wouldn’t have floated all those years, he said.
“Usually things wash up on the shore after a certain amount of time,” Van Sumeren said.
The man who wrote the note texted the Record-Eagle that he was “totally surprised” when he heard from Henrickson. He declined to give his name.
Van Sumeren suspects the bottle is a hoax.
“I don’t want to be the naysayer, but that’s my guess,” he said. “I have never seen a whiskey bottle in the middle of Lake Michigan in all my travels.”
Henrickson, who has never been to Michigan, let alone Frankfort, said he nevertheless looks forward to having a drink with the mystery note-writer.