Message in a Bottle: NYC Fashion Designer and Albatross Fleet First Mate Reunited Nine Years After Ocean Found Them
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2023 at 4:04 pm
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A Message in a Bottle brings together independent fashion designer Anna Molinari and Albatross Fleet with Sumner Mattingly for the first time when they were teenagers. It’s been nine years since Molinari found the message 27 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, but the two have kept in touch and recently reunited on the Outer Banks.
The story of this message in a bottle began in 2011. It is in 2014. Anna was a 16-year-old military girl, recently moved to Rhode Island for her family’s orders, and received a full scholarship to attend a local boarding school. “Part of that scholarship includes one semester at sea on the school’s 70 feet. sailboat,” Molinari shared in an interview with Coastal Times
The trip began in the Dominican Republic and the students and staff traveled to the Bahamas, Florida and then to Charleston, South Carolina. While sailing between the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, the fashion designer said there was no wind for five days. “Five days out on the water was too much for us,” she said. “We were running out of food and very bored, so one of the first mates suggested we make a message in a bottle to pass the time.
Molinari wrote about what she learned from being at sea and applied it back home. She wrote about her feelings, she shared a piece of her life journey with anyone (if any) who wanted her letter. The bottle quickly made its way to the beach and found a reader: 18-year-old Matli.
The first mate was fishing on the Albatross III about 27 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras in late spring/early summer. Sumner, a native of the Outer Banks, shared. Coastal Times It was a calm, beautiful day on the water. Matley sees the message in a bottle as two dolphins catch it. The boatman turned back to grab the bottle and took it to shore, where he worked hard to open the bottle (because it was so well sealed). “And it ended up being Anna,” he said.
Two months after returning home from a semester at sea, Molinari received a handwritten letter from Matley at her school. “If I put a message in a bottle and someone finds it, I want them to write me back,” Mattitli said. “He wrote that he echoes everything I wrote in my letter,” Molinari said.
The two connected on social media. Molinari’s grandfather owns property on the southern beaches, and the family typically vacations in the area every summer. They agreed to meet that summer when they were both at the beach, but Molinari called him before they could meet. “Everyone at my boarding school said, ‘No, this is too crazy and dangerous’ … so I listened to everyone who told me not to date him,” she said. “It really freaked me out, and also, I was very shy as a sixteen-year-old.”
The following summer, Molinari put her fears aside and invited Matlin to dinner with her family. The fisherman said he had to go north to pick up some surf anyway and was happy to meet Molinari and her family.
“He showed up barefoot, in board shorts, hair after surfing, with his friend and they had corned beef for our family dinner,” Molinari said. “We got biographies, compared them and talked a little bit about the message in the bottle.” Mattingly said he stayed for two hours, gave Molinari an Albatross fleet shirt and the two posed for their photo. “And then we broke up,” Molinari said.
Over the years, the two have kept in touch through Facebook and Instagram. At that time, both the message and the bottle were stolen. Matti said it had been at least five years since the memorabilia was taken directly from the ship’s small office museum. “One day they came in and the display case was broken and the message in the bottle was stolen,” Molinari said.
The two reunited a few weeks ago. Molinari came down for a girl’s trip, and Mattingly took the ladies on a charter fishing trip on June 12. They boarded the Albatross III. The New York-based fashion designer wrote a new letter to Summer, who gave him a gift in a new bottle. Afterwards, the two hit up a local bar, and talk about how their lives have changed since meeting nine years ago.
Although Molinari and Mattingly met by chance, their lives proved to be headed in the same direction. Both are pursuing their passions, happily pursuing careers outside of the “norm.” Molinari said, “I personally think it’s great because he’s been fishing since he was a kid and that’s what makes it fun…and I’m the same with fashion design. I’ve been making clothes since I was a little girl and that’s what I enjoy. She added, “In our generation, people are very indecisive about what they want to do, and finding an interest is very stressful. It’s great that even though Summer and I have very different passions, we both have and have been following them since we were little, and that’s what we’ll be doing for the rest of our lives.”
Both agree that it’s important for everyone to embrace their freedom, not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone, and be your own best advocate. “Make your own way, regardless of what is common or stereotyped among your peers,” Molinari says.
While in town, Molinari posted videos on TikTok about his message in the bottle story, which gained a lot of attention. Her fashion brand, Instinct Brand LLC, features clothes made from second-hand scraps and fabrics. Mattingly has been with Albatross Fleet for 16 years and regularly takes clients on charter fishing trips. “Next time, we want to take a fishing trip to the place where he found my bottle,” Molinari said. “We’ve been connecting more and more,” Mattingly said. “It was good to meet again.”
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