Mar 31, 2010

Diversity Corner Display: Hokule'a Bottle Message Project

Steve Soltysik has organized a very interesting display at the Diversity Corner. Below is some information on it. Mahalo to Steve....!

Posted by:
Kimo Perry
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"We're all bonded together by wind and current"
– Steve Soltysik

About the Hokule'a Bottle Message Project
On a voyage between Kaua'i and O'ahu, in November 1996, 433 bottle messages were cast adrift off the Hawaiian sailing canoe "Hokule'a."

All the messages were in wine bottles, assembled and sealed with wax by grade school students on the island of Kaua'i, with guidance from Steve Soltysik and their classroom teachers. Unlike plastic, glass bottles are made from quartz sand that breaks up into tiny pieces of quartz and returns to mother earth as part of a natural sediment.

The bottles were cast adrift mid-channel, with the winds blowing from the northeast at 20 to 25 knots. A large north swell of 15 to 30 feet was moving through the islands, caused by an early winter storm far to the north.

The objective of the bottle message project is to stir the imagination of young students to ponder distant lands, wind and current, different people who might find their bottle messages, and how we are all connected on planet earth.

To date, a total of 30 bottles have been found in places as far away as Oregon, Japan, the Philippines, Midway Island, and Palau. The last bottle was found after six and a half years of floating and traveling the Pacific Ocean!

The 3rd and 4th grade students from Kawaikini NCPCS, along with their teachers Lei Wann and 'Alohilani Rogers, colored and plotted the journeys of the 30 bottle messages. Kumu Lei was on board the vessel in 1996 as a student crewmember and so, like the bottles themselves, it can be said that her journey has come full circle.

About the Display
The display includes maps showing where the bottles were cast adrift and where they were eventually found as well as the likely route that they traveled. Folders rimming the display can be opened to see the original note written by the child, data on the distance and time that the bottle traveled, and copies of the letters that were written back to the children by the people who found the bottles.

The display also includes materials on ocean currents and a sample bottle complete with a note inside.


  1. How can I contact Steve Soltysic? Another bottle has been found near Coos Bay, Oregon!

  2. My Husband has just found one of these bottles this morning. (5/1/10)How exciting! We live on the northern oregon coast (Seaside). He is planning on following the instructions on the letter. The papers are in pretty good shape but the names and ages of the children have faded you can only read one completely. It is nice that glass bottles were used. My husband has been so discusted with how much plastic garbage has been floating up to the beaches. Every one needs to be educated on how we impact the world with the things we use.

  3. How exciting to hear that two bottles may have shown up 14 years later! It's a connection of not only wind and current, but also time!

    Dear Anonymous, I'm glad to hear you're planning on following the instructions on the letter. Mr. Soltysik and the children who participated would surely be pleased to know their project is still viable.

    Dear Ms. Farr, I don't have Mr. Soltysik's contact information. However, if you'd like to send a message to with your contact information, I'd be more than happy to forward it to someone who does.

  4. It's really interesting that another bottle has been found. The last one before that (I think) was found in 2003! So this one really sets the record....!

  5. Also, I just noticed that one of the students who sent the bottles is a current KCC student. He was six years old when the bottles were sent....!