Does a message in a bottle have to follow the Gulf Stream?

A friend recounted a story of tossing a message in a bottle in Massachusetts and then getting a call a few years later from a couple who discovered it while walking on the beach in the Bahamas (or possible an island further south in the Caribbean, I forget)…

He is certain that the bottle traveled with the Gulf Stream; across the North Atlantic, down the western European shores, past the Canaries and West Africa and back across the Atlantic into the Caribbean. I don’t know a thing about these currents but want to know if its possible the bottle simply traveled southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and never traveled in the roughly clockwise direction of the Gulf Stream. Is it most likely that the bottle actually crossed the Atlantic twice or could it have followed some other path or shipping lane?

I’m not an oceanographer but looking at current maps it looks to me like the Gulf Stream complete dominates currents along the eastern seaboard of the US. Looks to me like two atlantic crossings is the most likely route.

The only exception I can think of would be for wind. Winds may have prevailing directions, but they can be blowing in just about any direction at any given moment. I don’t know how likely it is to get all the way from MA to Bahama on wind alone, but my money would be on the ocean currents.

A bottle released in Mass. and later picked up in the Bahamas almost certainly made the trip by circumnavigating the whole N. Atlantic Gyre, i.e. took the Gulf Stream north and east towards Portugal, headed south in the Canary Current, and then rode the N. Equatorial Current back to N. American shores. While longshore currents inside the Gulf Stream sometimes flow south, they do so only for short periods. It might be possible (but highly improbable) for it to make it down to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay by that route, but virtually impossible to get past the Outer Banks. And to get to the Bahamas from the east coast of the US it would HAVE to cross the Gulf Stream at some point, at which time it would just get swept north and east across the Atlantic.