Scott Gutterson, a regular swimmer with the Werri Point Swimmers in Gerringong (the location of this Sunday’s Captain Christie Ocean Swim), recently found a message in a bottle when free diving that would start a journey of discovery that was closer to home than he could’ve ever imagined.
Mr Gutterson, an avid swimmer and free diver in the Gerringong area was heading out for a free dive at one of his favourite spots of Murray’s Beach when he found the ‘treasure’.
“I headed out around 100m offshore to say hi to a few fish like ‘Big Blue’ the Grouper and some octopus I love seeing out there,” said Mr Gutterson.
“I initially thought [the message in a bottle] was a log which isn’t unusual in the area but then, boom it was a mussel-covered glass bottle with a message in it.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was like all my Christmases had come at once. Like when you are a little kid and you get that present, you’ve been asking for, that is exactly how I felt.”
Mr Gutterson is no stranger to finding lost items and ‘treasure’ on his ocean swimming and free diving adventure but this time, the excitement was widespread throughout his family, who he waited to all be home to open the bottle
“I have found plenty of stuff on previous adventures in the ocean including hats, 2 x $5 notes, a dad’s fishing rod – which was actually a Christmas present that I safely returned to him – a beautiful umbrella from the Sistine Chapel in Italy and of course plenty of rubbish,” said Mr Gutterson.
“While most of that stuff is fairly boring, this message in the bottle is by far the best thing I have collected from the ocean and I was super excited to show my wife and kids.
“I actually waited for everyone to be home so we could all open it together and we played a guessing game of the location it came from and what the message would say inside.
“My wife Kellie thought it was from somewhere in New South Wales, my son Seth thought it was from New Zealand, as I am a Kiwi originally and then my daughter Lilly who is the cheeky one in our family reckoned it was from someone just at Murray’s Beach.
“But it is safe to say their excitement levels were at an all-time high which you can imagine after finding real-life treasure. I mean this is something you usually only hear about in stories.
“It’s easy to say that this is an incredible surprise the ocean gave me and one I will never forget.”
When Mr Gutterson and his family finally opened the bottle it turned out it was from a young girl named Vicky, from Canberra, who was ten years old at the time of writing the note.
“It turns out that Vicky had written the note in December 2020 and asked her dad, who is in the Navy to throw it overboard as he was leaving port in Newcastle, it then travelled over 300 km to end up at Murray’s Beach,” said Mr Gutterson.
“She had left her address and a phone number to contact her on, so I called the number and it was Vicky’s dad Ted. He was equally gobsmacked and excited by the discovery.
“This is where the story turns funny, after chatting with Ted, I found out that we were closer than we know, not only had I served in the Navy and Ted is still serving in the Navy, but Ted’s parents and one of his brothers living in Gerringong, which is where I live.
“Another strange coincidence is that during my time in the Navy, I actually did my first deck landing on the same ship that Ted launched the bottle from and I had actually flown with his brother while I was in the Navy.
“While all of this is crazy, we have actually arranged to meet up at Easter which will be great to meet Ted and Vicky in person finally.”
While chatting with Mr Gutterson, we also got on the topic of the Captain Christie Ocean Swim which is on this Sunday, 19 March.
Having previously participated in the Captain Christie Ocean Swim many times before, Mr Gutterson now swims the Captain Christie course weekly with his ocean swimming buddies in the Weri Point Ocean Swimmers.
“I love doing the Captain Christie Ocean Swim whether that be weekly with my Weri Point Swimmers or in the actual event which is held each year,” said Mr Gutterson.
“The swim course is truly breathtaking, and the sheer cliffs take my breath away every time I swim past them.
“It is just full of amazing scenery and on a perfect day, you will see the gorgeous reflection of the cliffs on the surface of the water, which is a sight you will never forget.”
This year Mr Gutterson won’t be swimming in the event, instead, he will be helping out volunteering.
“This year, I’m going to miss the swim and help out on the beach with the setup,” said Mr Gutterson.
“I’m also hoping to get approval to get the surf patrol drone up to help provide a lookout of the swimmers during the event.
“But, this time of year is really a perfect time to be jumping in for the swim, I always say the water and air temperature are near perfect here in Gerringong this time of year.
“So, I really encourage ocean swimmers to come down and do this stunning swim which they won’t forget and they will also be helping out in raising money to help out our surf club and patrols which allow us ocean swimmers to continue to enjoy ocean swimming.”
Check out the Captain Christie Ocean Swim listing to find out more about the event.
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