Bermuda Triangle: Where have you gone?

It’s still there. It’s more or less me who is gone. I’m still regarded as the “world’s authority” on the subject, but it is a typecasting I don’t like. Much has happened since Into The Bermuda Triangle was published by McGraw-Hill. I am working on the sequel. Everybody knows I have been. But everybody knows I am dragging my heels. There are several reason.

One, tragedy overwhelms me. Everything I investigate but D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot– two very opposite poles– has tragedy. There is just so much I can take, especially considering this is just a hobby.

But mystery still abounds in the Triangle. Mystery is alluring, of course. But in the last decade it has become confusing. Plane disappearances are almost nil. Naturally, that is a good thing. But travel in the area is also greatly reduced in terms of weekend wing flyers. So there is less mathematic likelihood of seeing the stats of previous decades, where roughly 20 vanished in the 1990s alone. The 1970s was the decades for plane disappearance. About 20 vanished over 1978-79 alone.

A lot of derelict boats have been recovered in the last decade. They, too, follow a pattern– the lone sailor aboard was invariably in his 60s or 70s. It is easy to assume they fell over. In one case one of the skippers reported a mild heart attack but that he was OK. Later his sailboat was found near one of the Windwards, his decomposing body still aboard.

Those now in their 60s and 70s were the generation of the age of pleasure boating. They read Men, Ships and the Sea by National Geographic. They learned as kids. The 1950s and 1960s was the golden age of the American middle class. Sailboats were the new thing to have. Those young teens are now in their 60s and 70s, and they continue to sail and most prefer that if they go they go at sea. Their disappearances have been accidents, but they have been numerous.

Aliens aren’t grabbing seniors in hopes of learning something. But there is no question that strange disappearances continue to follow a pattern, seen most notably in pleasure boating stats.

Pleasure travel in the area has sharply declined since the economic woes of Y2k and thereafter. Boats are being abandoned. They are sinking at anchor or being towed out and let drift away, to such an extent that Bermudans are becoming familiar, all too familiar with  derelict boats from Florida floating by.  Others are being taken to remote lagoons and let to rot. Some are beautiful old Browards and Chris Craft.

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Signs of the times– an old Broward.

Those skippers who are still taking their boats out are remaining closer to shore these days. Blue water sailing is expensive and time consuming, and it is simply not the way to go even for those who have the experience.  You might not think it strange therefore that more disappearances and derelict boats are being found closer to shore than ever before. This is where the traffic is; logically this is where it is more likely that boats now vanish.

However, there is a kink in this reasoning because I left out one point. The traffic around the coast is no greater than it ever was, even in the days of long blue water sailing to the islands. There is simply fewer going further out. Far out at sea or on extended cruises was the province for disappearance, not close to shore. As fewer go out, the disappearances come closer.

The most dynamic historic case of a close-to-shore disappearance, of course, is that of the 25 foot cabin cruiser Witchcraft in 1967. Owner Dan Burack and his friend Father Patrick Horgan were the only ones aboard. They went to  Government Cut at buoy No. 7 to see the Christmas lights from shore, December 22. In the span of 19 minutes between Burack’s call for assistance and the arrival of the Coast Guard cutter, they had vanished. Burack radioed he had hit an underwater object and he didn’t know if his propeller was bent. He requested a tow. There was no emergency. This mystery is compounded by the fact that the Witchcraft had floatation and was therefore unsinkable.  A huge search found no trace.

At the time the disappearance of the Witchcraft was an oddity. Most disappearances occurred on longer routes. It was an incident such as this that encouraged us to believe in the extraordinary.

Today, such a disappearance is more commonplace. Why then are there so many more closer-to-shore disappearances? Is something being deprived of its prey further out?

There are those who will trot out the theory of aliens kidnapping specimens of humans, and indeed my question evokes something sinister. But the answer is “nobody knows.” The sea, even a mile out, is far from our gaze.

That’s not a Cop Out.  There is no easy way out. Alien kidnapping isn’t an easy theory, nor is there any prosaic reason.  When something vanishes, it vanishes. How to draw comparisons?

It is a fact that in all my years of research I have only come across one case that indicates any kind of intervention by a “weird object.” Can this be extrapolated to apply to all the strange disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle? No, but it is a comparative. It did happen. It was in 1980 off Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, the center of UFO reports in Puerto Rico.

The Case.

Yet how to explain the case of the disappearance of Bobby Powell in 1998? His outboard was found anchored in only 7 feet of perfectly clear Bahamian water off Andros Island, the fishing line still leading out. Where did he go? Was it a barracuda? I’ve known those villains to spring off a shallow bottom and jump into a boat or at a kayaker. One kayaker had to be medivacked in 2010 when a barracuda jumped and bit her in her chest, piercing one of her lungs.

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There are many ways to die in the Triangle, but when disappearances still occur they are often quite odd. Boats are still found derelict, engines running. Sometime parts of bodies are found floating about and assumed to be the boat owner who must have fallen over. On one occasion a bale of cocaine was found floating. Since drug runners do not stack these on decks like crates of bananas it testifies to some mystery which befell a drug runner or a clash between modern pirates of the Caribbean.

There is much that needs to be worked still. Records from the 1950s for aircraft disappearances are still lost. If the stats hold up for the decades, 20 aircraft must have vanished in that decade and we know nothing about most of the incidents. Aircraft have vanish more recently and they are not even in extant archives because so little is known. It takes family or friends to come forward and give what information (and theories!) they can. One such case was in those two years of crisis– 1978-79. It is the case of Ken Brodacki. The RCMP declared him missing in Canada, but it later turned up he and another man were in Florida and took a trip in a twin Beech N7959R. They were never seen again.

Grahamplane2

Great acrimony followed the disappearance on December 15, 2008 (N650LP), of the charter Britten Norman Islander. Twelve vanished near the Turks Islands. A scrambled mayday,  a suspected ditching. No trace.

The world is still very large and the oceans around us still mysterious. Though not in the Triangle, the oceans have recently swallowed up MH370, and nobody thought it was possible for a jumbo jet to go missing anymore. It is not mystery that takes the pilots unaware. It is the unexpected.

The mystery of the Triangle is that more vanish here. The mystery is that it really doesn’t happen that far out at sea. The Bahamas are a huge island archipelago sitting on a very shallow bank. Most of the disappearances happen here. They don’t leave wreckage, not even an “eye.”

In our next Triangle post, let talk about “eyes” in the Triangle.

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For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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