A few days after Meagan Bilodeau dropped a bottled message into the Atlantic Ocean during a cruise near Bermuda, the girl was home in Massachusetts.
A month after that, the bottle nearly came home, too.
The 8-year-old recently learned the message she dropped from a cruise ship roughly 600 miles off North Carolina's coast on June 18 was found in late July by a girl whose family was boating in Massachusetts' Vineyard Sound, Meagan's family says.
The spot was perhaps 15 to 20 miles from Meagan's home near Falmouth.
"It was almost as if the bottle had been equipped with a homing device," Meagan's mother, Denise Acquaviva, said in a telephone interview this week.
The family was on a cruise to Bermuda when Meagan's father persuaded her to write the message, which included Meagan's name and address, Acquaviva said.
"I always wished someone would find my bottle if I sent one. If found, would you kindly write back to me? Please? Please? Please?" the letter read.
The message was put in a water bottle, and Meagan tossed it into the Atlantic Ocean not long after their two-and-a-half-day return cruise to Massachusetts began, Acquaviva said.
Meagan's father told her the currents could take the bottle to Europe. Meagan said she wondered who would find it and couldn't wait to correspond with whoever did.
"I hoped that it would end up somewhere far away," she said by phone this week.
On July 28, hundreds of miles from Bermuda, 11-year-old Teddy Herrick was boating with her family between Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard and Cuttyhunk Island when the vacationing group spotted the bottle in the water. Teddy fished it out with a net, and she read the message.
Teddy, who lives in Telluride, Colorado, was excited to find it. She had just read a book whose characters became pen pals after one found the other's bottled message.
"I was very surprised. I thought it was a cool thing to do, and it was cool that the current would take it close to her home," Teddy said by telephone this week.
Teddy wrote to Meagan late last month, letting her know where the bottle was found.
The most likely path for the bottle would have been to or near the United Kingdom, but an eddy could have broken it away from the Gulf Stream, allowing it to float to Massachusetts, said Jenifer Clark, a satellite oceanographer who works for her own company in Maryland after years of employment with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.