Message in a Bottle





GC Notes:

CANULOST is what you get if you diagonalize the islands in the route.


Teams are handed a dirty old wine bottle with a cork stuffed in the top. There appears to be bunch of material stuffed inside. Removing the cork and unraveling contents reveals three browned tattered pieces of paper. Or three crisp pristine laser-printed pages. Whatever.

The first two pieces of paper are duplicates, and include a finely written/typed (that didn't exist then did it? Buxton Sketch to the rescue!) shipping manifest for a wine trader. It appears to list numbers and types for various types of wine in the cargo.

The back of this manifest has a hand scratched message from a random sailor imploring the reader of the message to follow his route (because reasons). Rough directions that his shipping route followed to pin-point his location are listed.

The two copies of the manifest/note are identical, using whatever the old-timey pirate equivalent of two-sided photocopying would be.

The third piece of paper has a hand-drawn map of a set of islands with major landmarks labeled.

Suggested Hints:

  • If they can't figure out how to get the cork out of the bottle, remind them they received a toolkit/goody bag at the opening.

  • If they shove the cork into the bottle, a web search will turn up a cool video showing how to extract it using a plain plastic bag.

  • If they want to break the bottle, gently suggest that there may be a better option.

  • If they go ahead and break the bottle anyway, they're good until the final step of the puzzle. If they get the clue phrase and can articulate what they would have done had they not been so headstrong, give them the final answer. Then make them clean up their mess of broken glass.

  • If they jump right in looking at the note and map, and ignore the manifest, and get stuck, have them read the very last line of the note, that pretty much tells them to go look at the manifest first.

  • If they ruin the cork trying to get it out of the bottle, they can look up the standard wine cork size online. For reference, it's 3/4" x 1 3/4".

  • If they're having trouble being accurate when using the actual cork to measure, suggest they create a cork-sized paper template/ruler and use that instead.

  • If they're having trouble figuring out which islands to hit, they should go point-to-point using the dots provided on the map. If they do this correctly, the path may come close to other islands, but won't actually hit them.

  • If they've got the path, but stuck on what to do next, have them focus on the island names. Is there something they all have in common? (steer them to the fact they're all two-part hyphenated names).


Index into wine name/type using the volume value. And get the phrase:

Use Cork

Day Length

Hour Width

Using the cork as a measure on the map and the directions provided from the starting point (the ship), map out the course the trader followed from dot to dot, noting each island that he travelled to.

Each island name contains a hyphenated compound word, selecting the right word (alternates between first and second half of hyphenated compound) from each name gives the phrase:


Teams cut out the ninth line of the manifest, and wrap it around the base of the bottle which has tick marks engraved into it. The first tick mark aligns with the first letter on the line. Reading the ticked letters gives the final word:



PDFs for the map and manifest:

Island names on the path: