Cupertino man's message in a bottle from 2009 found

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A Salt Lake City man found a message in a bottle thrown by a Cupertino man on a cruise ship in 2009 west of Africa. (KGO)

Part of the romance has disappeared from taking a cruise. The cruise lines now frown on passengers tossing messages overboard in bottles. But some people keep trying, and they often end up in unlikely hands.

Here's to the romance and the mystery; the random fortune of combing a beach and having fate deliver a message in a bottle.

"This is going to sound crazy, but I have found 60," said Clint Buffington.

Or, so he claims.

The Salt Lake City resident is a man so enamored with finding messages in ocean trash that he blogs about them, vacations in search of them, and produces videos about how to open them.

One bottle, found in the British West Indies, particularly vexed him.

"It says '7, May, 2009. Please return this note to John,' and it gives his last name as well as his address," said Buffington.

That would be John Buckel of Cupertino, who has thrown more than a few in his life.

Freedman: "There is a rumor, sir, that you have been littering the ocean."
Buckel: "I'm afraid so."

Two strangers who have never met nor talked, now linked by a repositioning cruise
for Holland America's Prinsendam near the Azores.

Buckel: "It was a veranda cabin right here, off this deck."
Freedman: "Out the window?"
Buckel: "It's a veranda like a balcony. Off the balcony!"

Once launched, all Buckel wants to know is where a bottle came ashore and if can he see the message.

In the meantime, Buffington is obsessed with making connections.

"As a kid I had this dream of meeting every living person in the world," he said. "And as I got older I realized that it was not going to happen. But this, this has revived that feeling. It's a free pass to talk to strangers."

Now, Buckel is on his list.

"I want to ask him about why he does it," Buffington said. "If he does it as a hobby, why?"

Two men brought together by tides and junk mail from the sea.
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