It's a time-honoured method of sending an SOS - albeit practiced more in fiction than fact - and, more commonly, a fun way to make random contact with someone in another part of the world.
Now, a message in a bottle found at the Ayres has revealed a correspondent with a rather more baffling motivation.
The bottle in question was found at Ballagennie, in early July, by Ayres National Nature Reserve Warden Erica Spencer.
Instead of a letter or a treasure map, it contained a single piece of lined paper, from a spiral bound pad, with neatly handwritten notes on both sides.
Dated 21/6/09, the notes consist of a series of 'significant' dates, names, historical 'accidents' and aviation references.
At the foot of one side is the acronym DMTNT - Dead Men Tell No Tales. With no further explanation offered, the recipient is invited to draw their own conclusions as to the connections between the details.
Erica, who came across the bottle while undertaking work on the botanical flora of the reserve, was perplexed by her find.
"I've found two bottles in the past but they've been from children on their holidays in Ireland, which is the prevailing wind direction," said Erica.
"I didn't know what to make of the message. I put it on display at the Visitor Centre to see if any of the public had any thoughts but nothing has come of it.
"There doesn't seem to be any conclusion to it - but I think someone has too much time on their hands!"
The Message in Full
Koncordesky Accident? Paris
31/8/89 Princess Anne
31/8/97 Princess Diana Accident? Paris
31/12/68 Koncordesky TU 144
31/12/99 Putin President of Russia
25/7/09 Bleriot France - England
25/7/59 Hovercraft England - France
25/7/00 Concorde Accident? Paris
12/8/00 The Kursk Accident?
Ken Gill MI5? Trade union Leader
1/2/85 Fliteform AIM GRP Heathrow
Steadman Starnes Bates
McBoon Nov 89
1/2/05 Wm Gray Heysham LA3
The Story Continues...
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the peculiar message, far from being an isolated effort, has set sail many times over and reached an impressive variety of destinations.
After discovering an almost identical message on Crosby Beach in Liverpool in November 2008, blogger Simon Jones posted a description of his find. Little by little, people responded to his article with reports of similar findings.
The mystery bottles have been washed up in Ireland (Portaferry, Wicklow), Scotland (Glen Luce), Wales (Penrhyn Bay) and most liberally, up and down the North West coast of England: Fleetwood, Whitehaven, Formby, Greenodd, Aldingham, Morecambe, Overton, Bayliff, Lune Estuary, Cleveleys, Poulton le Fylde and Piel, Walney and Holme Islands.
On each occasion, the message has been written in the same format, yielded the same details (give or take a couple of variations) and borne no clues as to the sender.
Clearly, the author feels compelled to share their thoughts without being traced or identified. But are the messages an obscure practical joke or the product of a troubled mind? The question, for now, remains unanswered.
Have You Been Bottled?
Have you found a mysterious message in a bottle - or some other puzzling object - on the Island's shores? Email email@example.com and share your story!
Pictured: A detail from the anonymous 'message'