Photography and text by Sara Caruso

Anyone who beachcombs has a dream find. If you ask a sea glass collector what their dream finds are, they will probably tell you a glass stopper, marble or red piece. Perhaps the most romantic and amazing discovery is a message in a bottle. For hundreds of years before the advent of technology and GPS tracking systems, a message in a bottle may have been the only way to tell how a ship wrecked – and that’s only if it the bottle was found. The story of the bottle is less romantic when you think about a boat filled with forlorn sailors. However, the real treasure within the bottle is connecting with someone new. In a way, the bottle hearkens to simpler days when technology didn’t take over our lives.

I was walking the beach in Holgate late in November at low tide. There were quite a few pieces of sea glass and other finds along the way. On my way back up the beach I saw something glisten in the surf. As I bent over to pick it up I noticed it was a fairly new bottle. That alone would have been enough to make a sea glass hunter’s day. Then I noticed a message inside it. It was sealed with a cork and scented candle wax (which unfortunately didn’t smell pleasant after being in the sea). The wax had chipped, allowing water inside and soaking the note. I could only make out the words “instantly connected.”

Once I got home I chipped off the rest of the wax and uncorked the bottle, dumping out the water to let it dry. Using long tweezers I gently teased out the scraps of the note, careful not to rip it any further. Even though it was obviously not that old, it felt like I was about to decipher an ancient text. After getting it out I gently unrolled the note onto a plate for drying. It took all night to dry and most of it was in pieces. Like a puzzle from an Indiana Jones film, I carefully put the note back together. I could make out a date, October 24, 2015 – it was only in the water for about a month. Any longer and the note may have disintegrated. Slowly I began to make out the text, which was on both sides of the little note.

Side 1:

October 24, 2015
We love each other
Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Beach Haven
39.5760 N Latitude
-74.2518 Longitude
We are together again…
Lisa, Jaymie, Tammy, Kelly
So if you find this email us at…

Side 2:

…and we will be instantly connected for life…
Jersey Shore for the 1st time and we love it!!!

I sent an email and got a reply from Tammy from Long Island, NY. She explained that every year she and three high school friends have a reunion. They go to a different beach and this year was the first time they chose LBI. With family and work separating them by states, they only have one time of year to personally connect and catch up.

Some argue that throwing a message in a bottle into the sea is polluting. The bottle managed to travel about five miles south before I found it based on the coordinates Tammy and her friends wrote on the note. These girls always dreamed of finding a message in a bottle so they did this to make another beachcomber’s dream come true. It was nice connecting with someone from far away and I hope to find another bottle some day. You just never know what you’ll find with each tide.

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