“I know, what are the odds?” said Emanuel of his discoveries. “I guess I was just in the right places at the right times.”
Emanuel’s first sighting occurred in 1993 while serving with the Air Force in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. While walking along the beach one afternoon he stumbled upon an old, worn bottle sticking up out of the sand, containing a letter written in Arabic.
It wasn’t until nearly five years later when Emanuel’s tour was over and he had returned home, that he finally learned what the message said. “I was working at the time for Hewlett-Packard and there was an intern working there from Kuwait,” said Emanuel. “So I brought the letter to him and he was able to translate it for me.”
The short note turned out to be just a friendly greeting to the recipient of the bottle. “Thank you for reading this letter and please contact me to know the place and time of finding this,” it read in part. Unfortunately, there was no number or return address.
Emanuel’s second discovery in 2006 was a little more detailed. “I was scuba diving with my daughter just north of Bodega Bay and there was this thick, thick carpet of jellyfish and it was hard to see and get through the water,” he said. “At one point my foot brushed against something and I took a closer look and found the bottle.”
The note, tucked in a milky green wine bottle, was written in Chinese. When Emanuel returned home, he had the message translated. “It was from an instructor at a driving school to his long lost love,” said Emanuel. “The letter said how much he misses her and loves her and hopes to see her again some day. It was a romantic letter, even though it was pretty clear he knew he wouldn’t see her again.”
Messages in bottles have long been the subject of songs, novels and romantic inspiration. While neither of Emanuel’s letters ended in an epic tale of love reunited or discoveries of a buried treasure, he’s perfectly content with the outcomes. “It’s just a fun thing to find no matter what the message,” he said. “I saw in the news recently where someone was cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf and found a letter in a bottle from a woman in England. They’re everywhere.”