Ray Pendleton Water Ways

Ray Pendleton

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Ever since the Star-Bulletin began posting Water Ways on its Web site, I've been surprised by the e-mail I've received in response to the column.

It's very apparent there are a lot more Star-Bulletin readers than those who subscribe or pick up the paper at the corner newsstand.

Still, who would guess that someone in Ohio, Florida, Japan, Australia or a Persian Gulf country like Qatar would have any reason to read the column, much less take the time to contact me about something in it?

I bring this up now because it's happened again, and although this message came from a reader in relatively nearby Oregon, its content had the essence of a TV drama.

"I just finished reading your Oct. 2 article on the yacht Silver Lining," wrote Kathy Schmid, a 40-something mother of two. "I have a story to tell and need your help contacting either its captain or its owner."

With an opening line like that, I was somewhat relieved to continue reading and learn that Kathy was just curious if Silver Lining, after visiting Palmyra Atoll before coming here, would be returning to Palmyra.

After all, it could have been someone trying, through me, to track down a wayward husband, or worse. Thankfully, there was a different twist to Kathy's story.

In June 2000, Kathy's fiancˇ took his own life and, as anyone can imagine, she was devastated. By October, in an effort to bring her some peace of mind, a girlfriend convinced Kathy to go with her on a four-day cruise to Mexico.

The two friends also discussed how it might be therapeutic to write a letter of aloha to Kathy's fiancˇ, put it in a bottle and toss it overboard at some point in the cruise.

So, one evening the two ladies gathered at the ship's rail and ceremoniously let fly with a bottle containing letters to the fiancˇ from both of them and a note of explanation to whomever might find the bottle.

Fast-forward two years and Kathy -- who had long forgotten about the bottle -- was suddenly confronted with a letter from Matt and Elizabeth Lange, the caretakers of Palmyra Atoll.

Somehow, Kathy's bottled letters had floated safely across nearly 5,000 miles of open ocean and been found by the Langes some 22 months after they had been launched.

Since that introduction in 2002, a friendship has grown between Kathy and the Langes, albeit long-distance through letters and e-mail only.

Recently, the Langes told her about Silver Lining's visit to Palmyra, so she did a Web search for the boat's name and came up with my column. That, in turn, led to her writing me with her request.

"I want to meet these two people (in person)," Kathy wrote. "They have no idea what they have done for me with their words of support, encouragement and caring."

Unfortunately, I had to tell her that Silver Lining's itinerary doesn't include another visit to Palmyra, so that won't be a transportation option for her.

But, I added I would put out the word to anyone planning to make Palmyra a port of call that there's a lady in Oregon who would love to join the crew.

They can contact me by e-mail.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at raypendleton@mac.com.



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