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Pirates, and the Eternal Sea.

The Mystery of the Devil’s Triangle

It can be a mysterious place out there on the high seas. No place is more mysterious than the Devil’s Triangle where many a mariner has met his fate.

In a few months, I’ll be headed to Bermuda to accompany my son on his honeymoon. Don’t even ask. His kids are going too. While I anticipate having a good time, I am filled with a little consternation because of the reputation the area has. I know you’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle, sometimes referred to as the Devil’s Triangle.

Depending on whom you talk to, the area covers an area approximately 500,000 to a million and a half square miles. Facing south from Bermuda, the right side of the triangle runs roughly to Miami, Florida. The left side of the triangle runs to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A lot of strange things have happened in the area, everything from small pleasure boats to military ships and planes disappearing, and nobody really seems to know why

Oh, there’s lots of speculation. Scientists are at no loss to offer countless hypotheses about what happened to these boats, ships, and planes, but in the end, they are just that. Hypotheses.

I’m not an anti-science nut like Donald Trump and many of the morons in the Congress and Senate of the United States who vehemently deny climate change. Its effects are palpable, measurable, worldwide.

It’s just that in the case of the Bermuda Triangle, science just doesn’t have a definitive answer. Let’s take a look at a few of the mysterious disappearances. On March 4, 1918, the USS Cyclops vanished after departing Barbados and heading for Baltimore, MD. Neither the ship nor the 309-member crew were heard from again.

In fact, there wasn’t so much as a piece of wreckage. You can be sure the United States government launched an incredibly detailed search of the area and found nothing. Not even a hint of sabotage by a foreign government. I’m sure if Donald Trump had been president then, he would have found someone to blame and pay for the missing ship.

Then there was the Carroll A. Deering, a five-masted schooner, found abandoned off Diamond Shoals, N.C. Jan. 31, 1921. With no crew left to tell what happened, the Carroll A. Deering continues to remain a mystery.

Add to these unexplained disappearances Flight 19 which disappeared while flying a routine training exercise in South Florida. When the squadron of five bombers failed to return, an experienced pilot with a crew of 13 was sent to search for them. In a bizarre twist, the APBM Mariner vanished as well.

If science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, wrote this kind of stuff, his editor would have rejected it, telling him it’s too far-fetched. The fact is, six military planes don’t just vanish into thin air. Neither do mega ton ships.

So what does science suggest might have happened? Let’s start with rogue waves. Until recently, most scientists pretty much scoffed at the idea of a rogue wave so immense that it could come out of nowhere, sink a ship, then disappear into the horizon like a ship filled with badly misbehaving pirates yelling “Aarrrgh!”

Scientists hypothesize that a rogue wave is formed when a wave steals energy from nearby waves. Conditions have to be right, but when they are, God help whatever is in its way. Yet, if this actually happened, the obvious question must still be asked. “Why wasn’t there even the smallest piece of wreckage?” For there to be none whatsoever defies logic and commonsense.

Then there’s the possibility of a storm so monstrous that it could sink a ship so quickly that it never had the chance to transmit an SOS. Unfortunately, for those adhering to this theory, there’s the small scientific fact that storms were not present in the immediate vicinity when a number of these disappearances occurred.

Squalls certainly do occur at sea, some so violent that they can sink small vessels and yachts. However, no sane person is likely to accept the premise that a squall could have sunk a ship as large as the USS Cyclops.

Pirates are another explanation proffered to explain the disappearance of ships, but if you seriously think pirates captured the USS Cyclops and then sailed her to a tropical isle to divide her booty, why you’re as daffy as the congressmen who think the world is only six thousand years old.

A much more logical explanation is that a ship had an accident due perhaps to mechanical failure or even human error. Pilots and those working in the engine room do have bad days, some of them very, very bad. That kind of thing happens at sea more often than you would believe.

This theory has two problems. With all the modern equipment on board, no transmissions were ever sent. The second problem is identical to the storm and rogue wave theory. No wreckage was ever found. The ships simply vanished with no mayday call or other transmission indicating it was in trouble.

Finally, there is the problem of magnetic anomalies. In this area of the world, compasses don’t always act the way they’re supposed to because the magnetic field of the earth acts rather unusual here. Because of that, it’s been suggested that men with thousands of hours of training and experience unwittingly sailed in the wrong direction.

This theory is, perhaps, the most baffling of all. Everywhere on earth the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I bet even a politician is smart enough to realize that. So how are you going to tell me that the expert crew manning the conn of a ship just didn’t notice they were heading in the wrong direction despite the position of the sun or the stars. Even my wife knows when I get lost, sooner or later, often later, I’m going to realize my mistake and turn around.

You’re probably wondering why more ships don’t vanish in the Bermuda Triangle. It’s a good question, and I admit I have no answers. Maybe we should be thankful more ships and planes don’t disappear. Perhaps now you can see my dilemma as the weeks turn into months. If you don’t hear from me after early August, I hope someone reading this blog will do me a favor and notify the Coast Guard. The men and women who serve are highly qualified and quite adept at Search and Rescue, or SAR as they like to call it. I just hope they have better luck than the APBM Mariner with its crew of 13.

See you out there on the high seas. Just don’t get too close to the Bermuda Triangle.

                                           Bill Hegerich

                                           The Uncommon Mariner

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“Uncommon Mariners”

Bill Hegerich


Welcome to the World of Mariners,
Pirates, and the Eternal Sea.