Donkeyman revealed – Scot whose message in a bottle was found 46 years ago


A SCOT whose message in a bottle was discovered 46 years after he dropped it in the North Sea has been identified as 75-year-old grandfather of two Jimmy Robertson.

Back in January, a search was launched to find the mystery “Donkeyman” who dropped a message in a bottle back in 1970.

The message was recently found by pensioner Pensioner Bernd Igwerks on the island of Norderney off the coast of Germany.

The discoloured piece of paper read: “This bottle was thrown over by “Donkeyman” James Robertson, 72 Sleigh Drive Edinburgh on September 19, 1970.”

James Robertson, now aged 75, has finally revealed himself, and has explained that he threw the message in the bottle off the MV Gosport whilst sailing south from Leith.

The ex-merchant navy member remembers writing the message on a bright evening in September 1970, and put it in a JAS Dunbar soft drinks bottle – after polishing off a bottle of juice.

Jimmy now
And Jimmy in the 1960s

He signed the message as “Donkeyman” because he worked on ship boilers, known as “donkey boilers.” The crew who worked on them became Donkeymen.

Robertson now lives in Larbert, Falkirk, with his wife Jean, whom he met in 1966, after retiring ten years ago.

Jimmy’s story was revealed after an American self-styled “message in a bottle hunter” tracked him down and contacted him via email.

Jimmy said: “I was in the merchant navy and we left Leith, where we had just unloaded coal. I can’t remember exactly where we were heading, but we were going south.

“We carried juice, because the water on board was so bad, so I wrote the message and quickly put it in the bottle. It’s incredible that was more than 46 years ago.

“I popped about 12 messages over the sides of ships during my time at sea, which lasted from 1966 until I retired 10 years ago.

“I only ever got one back, and it was from a woman in Amsterdam. That was back in about 1972, two years after I dropped it, but I was never able to get in contact with her.

“I lived in Sleigh Drive from 1968-70 but I’m Edinburgh born and bred, I only moved to Larbert four years ago, to help my daughter with her business out here.

“I haven’t yet spoken to Bernd, who found the note, but I’d love to. He’s gone to the bother to find me.”

Clint Buffington, 32, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first to track Jimmy down.

He said: “I scan the news every week for message in a bottle stories and this one I thought – I’ve got to find him.

“I basically started a social media campaign and it got spread around and shared. Usually I do the archival stuff myself but on this occasion James Robertson is such a common name, I had to rely on the social media.

Clint shared the story on his website –