We all have our little rituals when it comes to travel but some people are downright superstitious.
There are certain things we must do – or avoid doing – so we feel that we’ll be granted safe passage.
And while a lot of our travel quirks are all in our heads, sometimes there really are mysteries out there we just can’t explain.
That’s the last thing you want to hear about a destination you may be traveling to. You don’t want to hear that people are disappearing – poof – into thin air, especially when there’s no trace of what happened to them.
Well, that’s the mystery behind the strange events that have been documented in the “Bermuda Triangle.”
In fact, the very name itself is associated with unusual phenomena and loss of life that’s never been explained.
Just hearing it inspires curiosity, dread, even crippling fear — the “heebie-jeebies,” if you will — because of all the stories involving this area in the western Atlantic Ocean.
The Bermuda Triangle does not have specifically defined borders, but one of the first authors on the subject, Vincent Gaddis, determined its points as connecting Miami, San Juan, and Bermuda.
So what’s the deal?
Why has this swath of ocean earned the nickname the “Devil’s Triangle?” What happens there – or is it all just a good story?
Well, what is fact is that the Bermuda Triangle is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world.
The earliest mass media coverage of strange happenings in this part of the ocean started in the early 1950s about the mysterious loss of ships and planes in the area.
They include a rundown ship called the Ellen Austin that disappeared in 1881, with some stories claiming the ship eventually reappeared – minus her crew.
Then in 1918, the USS Cyclops, a naval ship carrying more than 300 crew members, disappeared without a trace after leaving Barbados with a load of cargo containing magnetic ore. It was the largest non-combat related loss of human life in the Navy’s history.
In 1919, the Caroll Deering, a schooner, was found adrift with her crew completely missing.
During World War II, two sister ships of the Cyclops – the Proteus and Nereus – were also lost in the same area, carrying the same cargo.
At the end of the war, in one of the most publicized losses in the Triangle, five TBM Avenger bombers – referred to as ‘Flight 19’ – left on a training exercise. None of the five planes returned to base. Neither wreckage nor crew were ever found.
Two British South American Airways passenger flights disappeared within a year to the day of each other in January of 1948 and 1949 en route from Bermuda.
And the list goes on and on.
There are plenty of other unexplained disappearances, from passenger aircraft to personal yachts to cargo ships, and nothing has ever been proven or disproven about any of these incidents.
But human beings are a curious and skeptical lot. We like to see proof, and if we don’t have proof, we like to make up a reason so we can explain what we do not understand.
Otherworldly forces at work…
Mystery-seekers have come up with all sorts of reasons for the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle.
Aliens. Sea serpents. Powerful lost souls trapped in the depths of the ocean. The famed City of Atlantis (thought to have been located in the vicinity). Even Satan’s handiwork.
Then there are the scientists who don’t believe anything without concrete proof – but also have no explanation. They have tested and studied and say there are plenty of possible non-supernatural reasons for all this loss in one area.
Many of the stories surrounding early disappearances cite contact from the crew where compass or navigational problems were recorded. But even if these ships got lost, wouldn’t they eventually turn up somewhere?
Another theory is there are unique magnetic forces in the Earth in this area of the Atlantic. They might easily knock a compass reading out of whack, and may explain the disappearance of the Cyclops and her sister ships carrying magnetic ore. But again, no identifiable shipwrecks have turned up.
More believable is that the powerful Gulf Stream with its surface currents could carry a ship off course or cause problems for a plane that needed to make an emergency water landing. But still, nothing has been found.
The Triangle is also called Hurricane Alley, but ironically, many of these disappearances occurred when no major storms were reported in the area.
And then there’s the favorite excuse when something unexplainable happens and we don’t know why – human error.
Of course, playing the blame game is one of the favorite human pastimes, but that’s an awful lot of mistakes to be made by highly-trained crew members over decades.
Yeah, but we have technology now…
So, since we are now so advanced in our navigation and communications systems, we would certainly have proof if something were to happen in the Triangle, right?
Well, not so fast.
In the past 15 years, several planes have either been lost or have reported technical difficulties in the area of the Triangle. Sometimes wreckage was found; sometimes not.
Whatever the case, more than 900 people have disappeared by air or by sea since 1945. Some wreckage has been found in a few cases, but no bodies have been recovered.
It’s disturbing, but scientists and more recent authors on the Bermuda Triangle have determined that the disappearances and accidents in this part of the Atlantic are no more frequent than in any other part of the world.
Early reports are said to be exaggerated — for example, that news reports did not mention the fact that there were, indeed, storms reported at the time of some of these tragedies.
Because the Bermuda Triangle has no documented boundaries, many of the reported incidents occurred well outside of the unofficial area of the Triangle.
Passenger flights and cruises travel this stretch of the Atlantic daily, and we don’t hear about incidents too often.
When we do, the advancements in technology that have been made usually provide us with some type of cause.
And then, there’s that age-old media trick – sensationalism.
An accident with a reasonable cause may make news, but not for long. Creating a legend requires putting a spin on things in order to keep the story going.
We seem to like mysteries. We are always searching for answers to the phenomenas we don’t understand.
As long as we exist, we’ll be curious about the world around us. And we’ll always like a good story.
You be the judge of what’s really going on in the Bermuda Triangle – but remember, if you’ve ever taken a Caribbean vacation, you’ve probably been on a boat or plane right in the middle of it.
And if you’re reading this, you made it out alive.