KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville woman's message in a bottle floated over 4,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean until it reached the beaches of France in 2022.
If every drop in the ocean counts, Victoria Kay's contribution created a kinship through the current.
"To me, the power of connection is everything," Kay said. "I'm a real big believer in that."
It's a trait she carries with her.
"I just enjoy people and I paint everywhere I go," Kay said. "I travel a lot."
At the beginning of 2020, the painting hobbyist and her boyfriend flew from Knoxville to the sandy beaches of St. Simon's Georgia for lunch.
"When we were on St. Simons Island, I was painting out at the park," Kay said. "I had brought a bottle and I had thought about putting a message in it. Then, I started thinking. My watercolor paper that I travel with is really small, so it makes it easy to travel."
Kay painted the Maritime Forest with live oaks, which is one of her favorites. Once she finished the watercolor, she took a fine tip Sharpie and wrote a message on the back of the page.
Her boyfriend suggested Kay should write her email on the picture at the last minute. Once she did that, the cork popped in the rum bottle, and Kay heaved it out to sea from the pier.
She thought a fisherman or beachcomber might find the bottle. The chances were high of the bottle breaking or being misguided to the bottom of the ocean.
The bottle bobbed in the ocean for over two years, until an email popped up in Kay's inbox in March 2022.
It traveled over 4,000 miles from the sand of St. Simons to the beaches of Brittany.
The email read: "'Hi Victoria, my name is Martine Bosc. I live in France in Brittany near the ocean. This morning while walking my dog near the beach, I found your bottle with a message of January 5, 2020. I discovered your message and your painting and I was delighted to read it. It’s amazing how far the bottle has traveled. Thousands of kilometers. Best regards.”
The message and watercolor didn't break or get lost while traveling across the Atlantic to find Bosc.
"I just think it's really cool that she's the one who found it," Kay said. "What are the odds that she would find it? What are the odds that someone who's bilingual would pick it up?"
To Kay, the delayed discovery shines a light on how positive messages can defy the odds and make an impact.
"My dad always said, if you want good things to happen to you in return to you, you always have to throw out good boomerangs," Kay said. "If you throw out good boomerangs, good boomerangs come back. I feel like this was a good boomerang."
It's a lesson in connection.
The pair have connected on social media and plan to visit each other one day. Bosc has been to Tennessee before, but never to Knoxville. Kay has never traveled to France.