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Message in a bottle from peripatetic Biker Bob, deceased

Caleb Harding doesn’t want to speak for the man directly, never having met him. But he’s pretty sure anyone named Biker Bob had a big thirst for adventure.
Caleb Harding found a bottle washed up on the shore at China Beach containing ashes and a message from Biker Bob. The message reads, “If you find me turn me loose.”

Caleb Harding doesn’t want to speak for the man directly, never having met him.

But he’s pretty sure anyone named Biker Bob had a big thirst for adventure.

Harding, a 21-year-old University of Victoria student, is headed for Tofino this weekend with a bottle containing the ashes of Biker Bob along for the ride. Harding found the informal urn — which appears to be a large beer bottle equipped with a swing-top cap — last weekend on China Beach, near Jordan River.

Tucked inside was a note that read: “If you find me, turn me loose.”

Harding and his girlfriend will honour Biker Bob’s last wish this weekend with what they hope will be a fitting ceremony.

“He probably liked to travel and see new things,” Harding said. “I can’t think of a better way than floating around the ocean in a bottle.”

Harding, a political science student, came upon the bottle during the 8th Wave Hunt, a non-competitive surfing event held Feb. 20 at China Beach. Harding and his girlfriend were walking along the shoreline after Harding’s heat when they stumbled upon a bottle nestled among kelp.

“When I went to pick it up, I noticed there was a message in the bottle,” Harding said.

“At that point, I thought it was just some note a kid had written, because when I was a kid I did that all the time. But my girlfriend noticed there were ashes in the bottom of the bottle, so I knew it was something a little bit different.”

Another note was scribbled on the back of Biker Bob’s de facto last will and testament. It was from a Nanaimo man who had found the bottle containing Biker Bob’s remains and “took him out for a beer,” Harding said.

The urn was brought by the Nanaimo man down to Victoria, where it was tossed in the water, Harding said. It would have made its way up the west coast of Vancouver Island by current, landing in China Beach. Or perhaps it was taken there by another link in the Biker Bob chain.

Harding has been in contact with the previous bottle-holder, but has not yet been able to track down any relatives of Biker Bob.

A search of area obituaries turned up nothing. “I still haven’t come into contact with any of his friends or family, because I don’t know how long the bottle had been out in the water. It’s still a mystery to me.”

He believes the bottle is no more than three years old.

Harding said he took the ashes of Biker Bob to school with him Thursday to ensure they were kept safe.

“I want to treat it with the sensitivity it deserves. I don’t want to make a big show out of it, I just want to see if I can find his friends or family so that they know he didn’t smash against the rocks somewhere. I would hate for this to be a good story and then I lose the bottle.”

As for what the weekend will entail, Harding is going with the flow.

“I don’t just want to throw him into the waves and him wash right back up at my feet. Ideally, we’ll go out in a boat and put him in the currents a little bit offshore. If I can’t organize that, I’ll probably tuck him into my wetsuit and paddle out past the breakers, say a final good-bye, and then give him a good throw.”