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Ashes in a bottle that washed up on Palm Coast beach cast back out to sea

'She's going on another journey, just like I wanted'

PONCE INLET, Fla. – It was more than a month ago that a brightly decorated bottle holding a woman's ashes washed up on a Central Florida beach, four years after it was originally cast out on its journey.

On Saturday, that journey resumed as the ashes were sent to sea once again.

Stephanie Winnek was walking along Cinnamon Beach on Oct. 30 when she noticed something in the sand -- a weather-worn bottle with a message slipped inside.

"It intrigued me. There was something in there and I wanted to know what it was," Winnek said.

She opened it and found a letter from Athina McAleer, of Charlestown, Rhode Island, explaining that the bottle contained her mother's ashes. Cynthia Rounds, 53, had died of cancer years earlier.

"I decided to put a little bit of her in the bottle," McAleer said.

She and her three siblings decided that putting their mother's ashes in a bottle and sending them out into the water would be the best way to let their mother see the world, since Rounds had always wanted to travel.

"We ask you to send the bottle back to sea, so she could keep on her travel," the message in the bottle read.

When Winnek read the letter, she immediately contacted the family in Rhode Island to tell them that their mother's ashes had traveled more than 1,000 miles to Flagler County.

"She was so excited and she couldn't believe that four years had passed and she had given up hope," Winnek said.

From there, Winnek and McAleer started planning a new journey for Rounds' ashes.

Winnek and her husband scattered some of the ashes around their palm tree then got a new, hand-painted bottle decorated with a sunny beach scene that would hold the remainder of the ashes and sought someone with a boat.

McAleer and her children flew down from Rhode Island to Florida this weekend and together with Winnek and her family, they rode about 3 miles out into the waters of Ponce Inlet with the freshly painted bottle to cast it out once again.

"She's going on another journey, just like I wanted," McAleer said.

At the bottom of the original letter, Winnek wrote down the time and date of when she found the bottle and a short message in hopes that the next person who finds the bottle will do the same.


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