You’ve heard friends talk about The Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Or perhaps you saw a story about it on 60 minutes… but just how do you get there?
You know you’re heading in the right direction when the smell of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen and jabber pulsating from stereo speakers begin to fade.
Your bare feet, however, will have their doubts and pester you with every step. It can’t be this far away. Ouch. Just turn around. Ouch. Please. Ouch. It’s their cadence, and it’s your own fault that you didn’t wear shoes on this 1.4-mile walk from the pier at Sunset Beach to Bird Island.
But you keep walking anyway until you see the American flag flapping in the wind, just as locals promised. You walk not just because you want to, but because you need to. Like thousands of those who have journeyed across this shoreline before you, you have something to say, something you need to get off your chest. And you’ll need someone who will listen.
The best way to get to Bird Island is to start at the Public Beach Access located at West 40th Street on Sunset Beach NC. Take the access to the beach, and head Southwest (away from the pier). You can either walk or ride a bike, it is about 1.5 miles from the 40th Street access to The Kindred Spirit Mailbox.
The Mailbox is a little hidden but it’s visible from the beach. If you reach the jetty you’ve gone a little too far.
For decades visitors to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Sunset Beach, NC have wondered Who is the Kindred Spirit?
The keeper of the mailbox was Claudia Sailor, a woman originating from Hope Mills, NC.
She had a dream about a mailbox in the sand and she and her boyfriend at the time planted the mailbox on Sunset Beach. She left it as a spiritual refuge for those who might need it. Sailor passed away in 2013, but she wanted the legacy of the mailbox to live on.
Claudia Sailor maintained the mailbox in secret along with Frank Nesmith (the mailbox co-founder) since its inception. Over time her walks to the mailbox became increasingly difficult. She began contacting local author Jacqueline DeGroot because of her local ties to the area and the mailbox (it is featured in her novel The Secret of the Kindred Spirit). They communicated by email for years and Claudia asked Jacqueline to help replace the notebooks periodically.
Claudia passed away in Winter of 2013. DeGroot recruited a team of volunteers to help watch over the landmark. They walk or ride bikes to gather and replace the notebooks every week in the summer and do repairs on everything from the flag, to the dunes, to the mailbox itself.
Nesmith wanted to preserve Claudia’s life work by having the notebooks (over 30 years worth which were kept in Sailor’s home) accepted into UNCW’s Archive Library, where they would be saved for future generations. Each summer DeGroot brings the handwritten notes, prayers, and letters to UNCW to add to the collection.