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Charleston Sailor’s Message in a Bottle to King Neptune Found

Know what’s weird? Sometimes it takes more time to find the sender of a message in a bottle than the bottle spent at sea! Case in point: This sailor’s message in a bottle I found way back in 2012. I could tell right away that it wasn’t very old. The note was wrapped in plastic bags inside a plastic bottle and plastic doesn’t survive intact long at sea. Surely, it would be easy to read and solve, right?! Well, one thing I love about messages in bottles is that they capture so well the chaos of life. This message in a bottle would remind me that the only constant in human life is change. We move, change phone numbers, delete old email accounts, and so on. And that makes solving bottled messages a bit tricky.

Clint Buffington with Jerry McCarthy the Sailor's Message in a Bottle on the Beach

What Did The Sailor’s Message in a Bottle Say?

I found this message in a bottle back in 2012. When I first opened it, I was surprised to find that although the writing down the center of the message was still visible, everything to the right and left was faded and invisible! I could just barely make out the date – December 21st, 2010 or 2011.

Either way, I was right that it wasn’t very old. But as I always say, the magic of a message in a bottle has nothing to do with its age. It’s all about the letter’s surreal ability to make friends out of total strangers.

Jerry McCarthy the sailor's message in a bottle.

Jerry’s message in a bottle under normal light.

So, sure, some of the writing had faded. But I was able to recover the missing parts by using a black light in my makeshift / CSI: Message in a Bottle lab. Ultimately, I was able to read the entire message, and it seemed so promising! It included a full name, an email address, and a phone number! Jackpot!

Jerry McCarthy the sailor's message in a bottle under UV black light.

Amazingly, the entire message is legible under a black light!

                Sailing Catamaran “Jangada”

Position 21.02.3 N   Charleston, SC ~ Tortola B.V.I.

066.31.5 W        Day 7 21 December 2011

Dear Neptune,

Thank you for a safe trip so far on this rough delivery. Even though we’ve had 30-45 knots of wind and 25 foot seas, the boat and crew has done well.

We apologize for the catching of two fish that we didn’t eat. I do believe it a waste, though I am not the captain on this delivery.

We ask for a safe passage for the next 150 miles to our destination @ Soper’s Hole, Tortola BVI, and we will write again soon.

Yours, Jerry McCarthy

$100 dollars for the return of this letter & bottle to whom ever finds it. jerrysailsagain@XXXXXXXXXX



Charleston, SC XXXXX


Isn’t that a great message?!

So often, message in a bottle authors leave out critical information. Sometimes they don’t even include their names! If I’m really lucky, I’ll find a date and / or some contact info.

In contrast, Jerry McCarthy the sailor’s message in a bottle is nearly perfect! Except for the use of plastic, of course. But his letter includes his full name, the name of his ship, the date, their location, his phone number, and his email address! On top of that, the letter itself is practically a philosophical tome on the condition of man!

Thanking King Neptune? Pleading for safe passage? Apologizing for the taking of marine life without reason? I’m telling you, this is one of the deepest messages in bottles I have ever found!

Jerry McCarthy the Sailor's Message in a Bottle side by side under normal light and UV black light.

Most of the writing is invisible on Jerry McCarthy’s message in a bottle, but it jumps off the page under black light!

Searching for Jerry McCarthy of Charleston, SC

I am a little chagrined to admit I didn’t get around to opening the bottle until 2014 — but there were other, more fragile ones I had to to deal with first.

I still thought I had a pretty good chance of reaching Jerry. Sadly, even though I reached out to Jerry using the contact info in the letter, I never heard back. He must have changed his email address and phone.

Years went by and I sort of gave up hope. But one day, I helped solve this message in a bottle from Connecticut, which led me to meeting an awesome private investigator named Jacquie who heads up New Light investigations.

When I asked for her help solving this Charleston sailor’s message in a bottle to King Neptune, one of the things she turned up right away was this article from the Boston Globe about a shipwreck involving a Jerry McCarthy of South Carolina.

The article reads in part:

…two men were rescued Saturday from a sailboat 55 miles east of Cape Lookout, N.C., after nasty weather battered their sailboat. Their 40-foot boat, At Ease, was caught in rough water after leaving Newport News, Va., on Thursday for a voyage to Charleston, S.C.

The vessel’s owner, Robert Cummings, 40, of Newport News, and Jerry McCarthy, 35, of Charleston, S.C., were aboard the sailboat when it had engine problems and a wave knocked out a hatch. The men told the Coast Guard that waves had rolled the boat and knocked them overboard at least twice

This at least confirmed that Jerry McCarthy was real, and had a real connection to South Carolina. Of course, the article is from 2005, so there’s no telling if he’s still in Charleston. Heck, I’ll just be happy if he isn’t in Davy Jones’s locker!

Help Solve a Sailor’s Message in a Bottle!

That brings us up to today.

YOU, dear readers, are my only hope!

I need your help to spread the word in Charleston, South Carolina, to let Jerry McCarthy know that I found his message in a bottle. If he was 35 in 2005, he’d be 48 or 49 today, I think.

Based on what I know about sailors, like my message-in-a-bottle friend John who has sailed his whole life and completed his first circumnavigation of the globe at age 74, I bet Jerry is still sailing today.

If you know anyone in the boating and / or sailing community in Charleston, SC, I hope you’ll share this with them! It would mean a lot to me, and I bet Jerry would love to know that his message in a bottle has been found — especially since I have no intention of collecting the $100 reward 😉 Finding Jerry the sailor’s message in a bottle was reward enough for me!

More on Real Messages in Bottles

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Closeup of sailor's message in a bottle.