Published March 31. 2014 4:00AM
Fishers Island, N.Y. - When Ryan Rodd, 26, tosses bottled messages into the Atlantic Ocean, he doesn't dare to hope that they'll reach any place too exotic.
So he was thrilled recently when someone from England contacted him on Facebook and sent him a picture of an old liquor bottle with seaweed caught in the top, asking if it had any meaning to him.
Rodd has tossed an estimated 25 bottles into the sea since 2010, a tradition that started as a unique way to use some of the empty wine bottles from his work at the Fishers Island Club. Each bottle includes a short message about life on Fishers Island, Rodd's address and his signature well-wishes.
"Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whenever it is you find this, I wish you the best of luck in life," is Rodd's closing line.
But the "wherever you are," as far as he can tell from the letters he's gotten in return, is usually close by. A few letters came in from Watch Hill and Block Island - which is "still pretty cool," said Rodd - and one came from about 72 miles up the Atlantic coast.
He likes getting old-fashioned, handwritten letters, which he said is a "romantic part of the whole experience."
Letters are "the original form of social networking," said Rodd, who tosses the bottles from the beach during a receding high tide to prevent them washing back ashore.
It may have been a modern medium, but the Facebook message from an English woman was still thrilling to Rodd. He didn't allow himself to make any assumptions based on her listed location on Facebook, waiting for her to confirm where she found the bottle before reflecting on its journey.
"I couldn't believe that it had really happened," he said.
Rodd began documenting where and when he throws the bottles, what he writes and when he received a return message in January 2012.
The message that washed up on Bognor Regis Beach in West Sussex, England, traveled 3,351 miles in 493 days. Rodd slipped it into an old liquor bottle he found while helping clean up after Hurricane Sandy and included a brief account of the storm's impact on the island in his message
"Fishers Island is such a unique place," said Rodd. Encapsulating life on the island in a bottle and sending it out to sea "seemed like a cool way to reach out."
Rodd said he's "not much of a believer in fate," but feels like there's some sort of reason a specific person finds his message, a deeper meaning behind why they've connected.
And he said he loves being able to "catch a glimpse of what's going on on the other side, where that bottle's found."