ABC located Paul Gilmore, who wrote the letter when he was 13, through his family in Australia and England, who say that he’s currently on a cruise in the Baltic and he doesn’t know his letter has been found yet.
But his family was pleasantly surprised by the resurfacing of his letter.
“It’s amazing, absolutely incredible,” his sister Annie Crossland said, according to ABC. “He’ll be chuffed to bits.” She added that “he sent about six of them.”
Paul’s younger brother, David, said the letter belonged to him, according to ABC. “It’s really strange,” he said. “I’m looking at the message now and yeah, I can see it’s my brother’s writing — he’s obviously a bit younger then.”
Gilmore threw the letter overboard while on a ship traveling with his family from England to Australia, where they emigrated, according to ABC. He was looking for a penpal.
According to ABC, he included his future address in the Australian state of Victoria and wrote: “We are 1,000 miles east of Fremantle, Western Australia … please reply.”
The ship traveled from Southampton in the U.K. and sailed via the Canary Islands and Cape Town before a layover in Western Australia. After the stop, it went on to Melbourne. Gilmore’s family thinks he dropped the bottle during the last stretch of the journey, according to ABC.
Nine-year-old Jyah Elliott found the bottle on a beach in South Australia, according to ABC, and wrote back on Tuesday.
ABC says that the siblings have assured them that Gilmore will send a response when he’s back from his cruise.