07/15/2015 07:23 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Messages in bottles connect Tignish man with the world

Harold Hackett likes to communicate with people around the world in a unique way.

Rather than use social media, Hackett sends his messages in a bottle.

The Tignish resident has thrown about 8,000 bottles in the ocean over the last 20 years.

Now 62, Hackett says he threw the first one overboard in May, 1996.

"I was out fishing one day with my cousin Jason Hackett, tuna. And tuna is a waiting game so I drank a bottle of Pepsi and I decided to put a little white note in it and I tossed it over," he recalled.

"Taped it with electrical tape. Then the bottles were glass so I didn't figure it was going even get to anybody."

But three months later, Hackett had a letter from someone in the Magdalene Islands.

Since then, he's had 4.300 responses to the 8,000 bottles he's thrown in the water.

"Feels good. Pretty near every time I go to the mailbox I get a letter," said Hackett.

Hackett throws about 500 bottles in the water at North Cape each year. All he puts in the cranberry juice bottles is a note with his mailing address.

"And then I write back every single person. Every single person I write back to. All over the world."

Hackett has had letters from people in Africa, South America, Europe, and San Francisco.

A couple from Holland who found one of his messages even showed up on his doorstep.

"They didn't even know P.E.I. existed. When they landed in the yard, me and my mom and dad were eating dinner," he said. "A big motor home drove in. Lady come to the door. I seen her coming. I knew she was coming about a letter cause she had my letter that she had found in the bottle. She had in her hand."

Hackett was invited to sail around the world by a couple from South Carolina. But he turned it down.

"I don't like the water. I almost drowned a few times."

Instead, the couple came to P.E.I. to visit him.

Hackett has travelled to see others he corresponds with.

"I'd just like to be able to visit them all. It's really nice like in Newfoundland when I visit the people and take them and show them their letter. It was wonderful," Hackett said.

Hackett says he has no plans to stop throwing his bottles in the water. He said he's thought about getting a computer but hasn't.

Hackett says he rather enjoys getting the letters at the post office.