A message in a bottle washed up on a private beach in Marathon, providing one special new year for a Florida family on vacation.
Ron and Nancy Owens spent their holidays vacationing in Marathon, but wrapped presents couldn't compare to the treasure they found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Their son Aaron spotted the elusive form of communication usually reserved for dreamers and children. He was sitting on their back yard beach and looking through a pair of binoculars when he spotted the bottle.
"He noticed a sparkle in the water and could see that it was a bottle and could see that it had something in it," said Nancy.
"All of a sudden, he jumps up and he said, 'I'm watching this bottle out there and I can see it's got something inside of it,'" said Ron.
Aaron grabbed a net out of the garage, ran to the water, and scooped up the bottle.
"Of course it was rolled like this into the bottle and it took quite a bit to get it," Nancy said as she showed off the faded and sunburned note paper.
The message is written in German. The Owens enlisted friends in Austria to help them translate it.
The message reads: "We wish that the world would be a smarter place and that every person will start to think before they act."
But who sent it and why?
"We could see that it had a picture of the ship, the Ms. Europa, and on stationary that looked very Christmas-y," said Nancy.
Contact with the Ms. Europa confirmed the yacht was near their back yard, overlooking the Key Vaca Cut, in December of 2011. A German tourist may have tossed the bottle in the ocean during the holiday season just one year ago.
"It's one of those kind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences," said Ron.
The Owens family is hopeful one day they will get to meet the letter writer.