It is a mystery what can wash up on a beach and be discovered by someone strolling by. Awanui man, Ken Ferguson, found something interesting during his stroll on the end of the Ninety Mile Beach in Australia.
Ferguson picked up a glass bottle along the way but, what he found inside blew him away. At first, he picked up the bottle purely so it wouldn't end up smashed and cut someone's feet, but discovered a business card of Captain John Karavolos was placed inside.
Once home, Ferguson tried his best to contact the Greek master mariner who put his business card in a bottle, date and place unknown.
Soon, Ferguson figured out that the name obviously meant something to the woman who answered the phone when he called the number.
However, the conversation didn't go very far as she didn't speak English and Ferguson didn't speak Greek. But the name prompted gales of laughter from the woman, who clearly knew Karavolos.
Closer to home, the vice-president of the Greek Community in Auckland offered his services and a hall in Auckland, should he wish to deliver a presentation.
Ferguson eventually contacted Karavolos, by email, in English, who said he left the message in a bottle and tossed it into the sea somewhere between China and Australia. Captain John Karavolos is now retired and living on a Greek island. He's delegated the job of researching the whole story to a small group of Awanui School children, who already had a photo of Captain Karavolos' ship pinned to the wall.
Karavolos told Ferguson that he had thrown numerous bottles into the sea over the years. He had written details of exactly where and when he jettisoned the bottle on the back of the card.
However, the ink had faded, which made it hard for Ken to read. Karavolos said that he couldn't be sure when he launched this specific bottle but suspects it was about a year ago en route from China to Newcastle, in Australia.
The children might have better luck trying to get the card out without breaking the bottle as they are set to do. But, even if it's still illegible, they now have dozens of texts and emails to reply to.
Ferguson said the children would be starting their project from Square 1 by extracting the card from the bottle. The second thing they would have to do would be to locate Ninety Mile Beach's Little Bluff.
The story has also gone global on social media after the Northern Advocate put it on its website and Facebook page.