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A voice from the past

FEB. 2 — When the 62-foot steel schooner Patanela sailed out of Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 8, 1988, no one could have predicted she would disappear without a trace. The only leftover from her existence was a lifebuoy found seven months later — until now, that is.

On New Year’s Eve, a resident of Esperance, Western Australia, found a beaten-up Bacardi bottle on a beach near Eucla with a note inside from one of the crewmembers, according to a report in PerthNow, a news Web site for Western Australia.

In faded blue handwriting, 23-year-old John Blissett said nothing about Patanela, but rather offered the finder of the bottle a free holiday in the Whitsunday Islands in North Queensland, according to the report.

“It was totally unexpected. It is not going to solve the mystery, but it is a little piece of John we never had,” says Blissett’s mother, Marj, in the report. “It showed what an enjoyable and interesting trip they were having.”

Patanela enjoyed three decades of sailing to Antarctica and circumnavigating the world before her fateful last voyage, according to the report. Many believed she was unsinkable with her four watertight bulkheads and steel construction.

— Elizabeth Ellis