Naming the Lost: A Look at the Forgotten Shipwrecks and Lost Souls of Cape May, New Jersey – Part II

Looking across the long stretch of the sandy beach at Wildwood, New Jersey, I can see the shadowy form of a schooner, sails full coasting across the Atlantic Ocean on the windy night. Likely a trick of the mind brought on by the swirl of related thoughts in my brain. Yet, the shadow poses a reminder of the numerous secrecies of the sea. Beyond the sphere of the shoreline where one finds: lighthouses, harbors, and areas where bodies and spirits washed ashore; because beyond the beaches lies a question, for all the spirits who could reach the shore, how many did not?

There are accounts of activity on the water, phantom ships being the most common and fantastical stories from the tourist on the shore to ship captains to members of the Coast Guard. Scientific theories ha e been offered to explain this activity: Saint Elmo’s fire and the reflection of the moon on the water, for instance, but they tend to fall short.  The next series of accounts comes from people on boats in the water hearing the sound of voices pouring in from the ocean. This particular phenomenon occurs in the stillness of the night over or near areas with a lot of shipwreck. In the water, the depths offer something more terrifying. In the area of Cape May, New Jersey, a popular vacation site leftover from the Victorian era, people have experienced or felt sensation drowning. Either the splashes or cries from help from an unseen force nearby or they feel as though they are the ones gasping for life and air. In all of these cases, that is not what is actually occurring, it is only a feeling.

Sensing and personal accounts are one thing, investigating the possibility of spirits in the water is quite another and vastly more difficult. How would one go about such? With all the proper safety guides and procedures in hand one could take a boat in the water and see what voices they can hear. A standard or cheap digital recorder may not be the best tools to use on such an investigation. The more controversial spirit boxes and Oculus would tend to offer better results.

Thanks to evolutions in technology, those who are capable of swimming or diving in the water can bring along specialized or water proof cameras to snap a few pictures under the water. Underwater photography is a specialized skill, where one needs to consider the differences in sunlight reflections and sandy and sediment underwater that would make photographs look cloudy.  Murky photographs and videos are not going to equate paranormal activity.

For the more open-minded, water divination can offer results; though it is certainly less than scientific. Divination is a technique that has been around since ancient times in various forms; the reading of tea leaves, palms, the moon, sand, and the list goes on. The technique of scrying can be done using water, mirrors, or crystal balls. It typically depends on personal preference. How one would use water scrying in relation to contacting the dead is to take a bowl of water, ask questions, and see what forms in the water. In this specific case, a bowl of ocean water would be used; and then pictures are taken of the results. For the water experiment I tried, I used ocean water from Cape May.

Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 1
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 1
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 2
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 2
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 3
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 3

Images of faces and ships have been seen while using water to communicate with the deceased. Though one can see faces in nearly anything, it is a common psychological occurrence known as pareidolia. It occurs because a human’s mind sees patterns in objects. All I really noticed with the pictures I took is a change in the cloudiness of the water between the photos. There is a valid skeptical stance on water scrying; nonetheless, those who practice it swear by the results.  Another tip if one is going to try this technique is to have a voice recorder nearby to record additional results; hence giving some credence to any images that come up.

It is a difficult stretch to take paranormal investigation from the shores into the water. There are dangers to working on the water; boating and diving have their risks. Just like on land, all personal and team safety should be considered, and common sense is a required tool. Investigating on land is imperfect, and it faces skeptical criticism even using the most advanced scientific techniques. But the mysteries of the afterlife stretch far beyond this realm and dry land. Every spirit should have the right and chance to tell their story and to have assistance moving on to the other side. The greatest difficulty lies in reaching and hearing them, on land or at sea.

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