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Cape Cod Sea-Jug Post

The “sea-jug post” was established many long years ago by the old sailing ships. Vessels that had long been at sea could not always be certain of meeting other vessels homeward bound, and the men aboard from skipper to cabin boy, were often anxious to send word back to the folks at home of their health, whereabouts, and adventures since leaving home.

Very often such ships would make some island, where the men would go ashore to get fresh water and perhaps vegetables and fruits for the ship, if such were obtainable. On a tree or post on such an island, someone had usually put up a box and this was used for messages and for not-too-important letters, which would be picked up and carried home by a vessel sailing there.

Another method, however, the “sea-jug post,” was also used. This method was the use of a sealed can or “jug,” into which letters or messages were placed, and the “jug” tossed overboard to be carried by currents to coastal waters or to be picked up earlier by any vessel that might spot it. Such a can — a metal can, painted yellow, and complete with little flag and mast, caught the attention of a Wareham man who was quahoging off Codman Point many years ago. Investigation showed that the can was from the Steamer John W. Powell. In it were about eight hundred letters that had been tossed into the sea off Cape Cod. Interestingly enough, this sea-jug had been tossed into the sea by the chief engineer of the ill-fated steamer Arizona Sword, which ran ashore at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal.

There have been many “message in a bottle” stories where bottles containing letters that were tossed into the sea thousands of miles away and sometimes many years earlier, have been found by beachcombers worlwide.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 04/18/06
Categories: History
Keywords: history, maritime


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