The Mystery of the Empty Rum Bottles

I pick up a lot of litter along paths and roads. In recent weeks I’ve found ~15 empty bottles of Captain Morgan’s Dark Rum along the road I cycle into town, the scenic bit where kids go with take-out food for the view. I couldn’t come up with a story to explain a) how someone ends up with 15 identical empty rum bottles at one time, and b) how that person comes to strew them along a scenic piece of seaside road.

But librarian and Wikipedian Einar Spetz understood immediately.

“Is there a yacht club nearby? Everyone I know who does night-watch duty at yacht clubs drinks Morgan all the time.”

I found the bottles just across the road from the Morningside Marina. Has somebody there told a lazy teenager to get rid of the empty rum bottles that have accumulated over the years? I don’t think the night watchers themselves, who are often senior citizens, would litter like this.


Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

6 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Empty Rum Bottles”

  1. Haha, tell the old-timers at the marina their gopher messed up.
    I have never tried rum, my principle is “never drink so much you may feel nausea afterwards” and rum is rumored to give bad hangovers, possibly because of the chemicals left from the sugar canes.


  2. One ex-British Army psychiatrist I talked to told me that the worst spirit is gin, because it has the most chemicals in it of any spirit – not what you would necessarily expect from a colourless spirit.

    If you really want to wipe yourself out, try a Long Island Iced Tea – it is a mixture of all of the light coloured spirits (vodka, gin, ‘white’ rum, tequila and triple sec), topped with a splash of CocaCola to give it the colour of tea, and some ice of course. Guaranteed to make a person very drunk, followed by very sick.


      1. OK, this is my theory.

        Living somewhere in the general area, probably not too close to the road you mentioned, is a closet chronic alcoholic – someone who drinks heavily every day, but needs to keep his drinking a secret, so he won’t lose his job or whatever. He only drinks at night after work (people who turn up drunk to work or who drink excessively during the day get found out very quickly). I am not well informed on the price of alcohol, but I imagine he chooses rum because it has a big enough kick, while being one of the cheaper spirits. And I don’t know but imagine that Captain Morgan is one of the cheaper brands, but still palatable enough for our friend – he might mix it with a bit of Coca Cola or something, or maybe he just dilutes it a bit with water, or he might even drink it straight. In a Swedish winter, drinking a straight spirit without ice would not be too surprising.

        For a hardened alcoholic like him, it would not be difficult to drink half a bottle of rum every night. Numerous well known people have admitted to drinking more than that every day (e.g. Elton John, who drank a bottle of vodka every day, on top of whatever pills he was popping). But let’s be generous to our friend and assume he’s a half bottle per night guy, not a whole bottle per night guy. That leaves him with a problem – at the end of a month he would have 15 empty rum bottles that he would need to get rid of secretly. If he is actually a whole bottle per night guy, that leaves him with an even bigger problem – 15 empty bottles every two weeks, that he needs to get rid of without anyone knowing about it.

        So what he does is load them all into a cardboard box or whatever, put that into his car, and one night at say 2.00 am or 3.00 am when there is no-one around, he goes for a drive along that road, and he dumps the empty bottles beside the road, maybe opposite the marina to try to cast suspicion on them, rather than on some phantom bottle-dumper. He is careful not to smash any of the bottles, because that would create a hazard that could attract the attention of the cops, which he definitely doesn’t want. What he hopes is that one or more good citizens will come along, pick up the bottles and cart them guiltlessly to a recycling centre or wherever. Which you have obligingly done, having no fear of being mistaken for a chronic alcoholic, because you’re not.

        If my theory is right, and if he intends to keep using the same road, in about a month’s time or maybe less you are likely to find another 15 or so empty bottles. But I suspect he will use different roads, to avoid creating a pattern and getting caught doing it.

        What do you think – plausible?


      2. There is one hole in my theory, though, that I can’t think of an answer for – I don’t know how he manages to buy that much rum while keeping it a secret, at least from anyone who knows him. Buying 15 or 30 bottles of the same brand of rum every month is the sort of thing that could attract attention, unless he can access a whole lot of different alcohol outlets within a reasonable radius of where he lives or works. And I don’t know how alcohol sales work in Sweden.


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