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500 Leagues of Sea

The Jump-Off Port— Miami

Bermuda Triangle Index

     The busiest corner of the Triangle is the bustling port of Miami, Florida, and its environs extending south and southwest to the Florida Keys chain of islands. Miami is a veritable magnet for boaters, vacationers and sunbathers. They arrive during the peak tourist months to make this the quintessential American Riviera. Miami is also a pressure release valve for the millions of people who each year make it their jump-off port to the islands of the Bahamas nasabiminiand Caribbean— the Mare Nostrum of Anglo-American vacationers. Bimini, which is only 50 miles away, is the closest to the US and it is the gateway to the Bahamas.
   The waters off Miami are a seagoing freeway. Florida has over 800,000 boats registered,

Satellite photo of the Florida Straits (Gulf Stream) between Florida and Bimini. The land mass at top is the western tip of Grand Bahama. The light color around Bimini is the shallow and immense Great Bahama Bank

plus over 300,000 which regularly descend from other states. These figures will continue to rise in this Millennium. Included within these statistics are boats that can travel over 110 mph! This does not include the foreign yachts that weave in and out of freighters, or the commercial fishing vessels, tug boats, US Navy vessels, research vessels, and the big white cruise ships loading another bevy of passengers. Add spring break vacationers, plus a myriad of smuggling vessels, and it is no wonder there can be over 1,000 accidents and hundreds of deaths in a year’s time.
     Not surprisingly Miami is the center of the busiest rescue arm of the US Coast Guard— this is the HQ of the 7th District. They answer all calls for distress and swing into action in seconds, sending cutters, speedboats and helicopters to scour the sea. The familiar white planes and ships with a red stripe are a welcome sight to those in trouble. The beating sound of a helicopter on patrol is not uncommon. To see a chopper hover over a boat, and to hear the pilot over the loud speaker is routine.
   Thousands of freighters ply their trade along here out in the fast Gulf Stream, either on their way to or from Panama to the East Coast, West Coast or Europe. As routes go, not much has changed since the days of the Spanish treasure fleets which used the Gulf Stream’s 4 knot current to hasten their trip to Bermuda and thence to Spain.
   Today, the Florida depths are also a major draw for visitors. Underwater museums exist, like off KeyCANNON Largo, where items of old sailing ships can be seen by the stalwart tourist who wishes to don snorkels and fins. Searching for an old Spanish wreck lures other divers to this undersea panorama of turquoise waters and crisscrossing beams of sunlight. They scout for any sign of renaissance metallurgy amidst broken spars, tires and discarded Coca Cola® bottles.
   Yet amongst all this there has never come the report of the fuselage of a big DC-3 airliner which  vanished over the area of the Keys, within 40 miles of landing at Miami, on a palmy December night in 1948. Its captain, Bob Linquist, had just sent his last message saying he was on approach. Then he, his 31 passengers and crew, vanished forever.DC-3wreck,Exuma
     This strange type of disappearance is not a phenomenon of old records. In 1978 another passenger DC-3 headed south and disappeared

Wrecks stand out in the shallows. Even if 50 or 60 feet down there would be a shadow. The DC-3 is considered one of the most reliable aircraft ever built. This one crashed in the 1980s. Three have vanished in the Triangle, all in the Miami/Keys corner.

between the Keys and Cuba while on radar, yet searchers found nothing.
   With all the shallow water about, one would also expect to find at least some of the others that have vanished; for not only one, two or three others have vanished here, but dozens of aircraft and possibly a hundred or more yachts. For example, around Key Largo a Piper dropped from radar shortly after takeoff,  yet left no trace in the shallow water.  No one has noticed an accumulation of silhouettes below, yet a veritable fleet has gone missing.
     It is not just the number of the missing that captures our attention. It is the circumstances. Many of these disappearances are not just craft that left port and were never seen again. In such circumstances any guess is as good as another as to why they vanished. For boats, it could  be highjacking, reefs perhaps, seiche waves, minicanes. Yet frequently enough circumstances are well known and they make the disappearance quite mind-boggling. One wonders what could be so selective and so swift as to account for those losses that tempt the rational.
     The cabin cruiser Witchcraft,  for instance, with Dan Burack and Father Pat Horgan, vanished from Buoy No. 7 at Miami harbor within the 19 minutes between Burack’s distress call and the Coast Guard’s arrival. Burack’s last words indicated something was below.

ABOVE: A cabin cruiser like Witchcraft. She had built-in flotation, so she was unsinkable. However, no trace of the vessel was found in an immediate search. Dan Burack and Father Horgan went out to Buoy 7 to see the Christmas lights of Miami, then vanished after Burack sent an SOS about an object below.

   About 60 or so yachts vanish each year (conserv. est.). They fade away without much publicity. Some have caused excitement, like Revonoc in 1958, Witchcraft in 1967, Saba Bank in 1974, Polymer III and Kalia III in 1980, or when James Trindade’s donzi was found derelict in January 2006.
     Pirates and drug runners may account for missing boats, but what about airliners and freighters? Marine Sulphur Queen, a 504-foot T-2 tanker, vanished en route to the Keys in 1963, without a trace of its yellow liquid cargo of sulfur being found. Other freighters like Sandra (1950) radar_enlargehave vanished along here. Fishing smacks like the Dawn vanished near Key West, cabin cruiser Ixtapa must have been annihilated. Her cabin was found floating, blasted off the rest of her hull. Evelyn K. was found derelict, her three fisherman wiped off the sea (but their dinghy was found intact). A large rash of derelicts has been found in the first decade of the 21st century near Anclote Key, one with the owner’s dog still sitting peacefully aboard.
   Of course, most everybody has heard about Flight 19, one of the most famous multiple disappearances in history. They left Fort Lauderdale, just 20 miles north of Miami,  on December 5, 1945, and vanished several hours later while on a routine training flight. 
     Many of the planes to vanish over the Bahamas have done so in bizarre circumstances. Such is the case of a twin Cessna 402B in 1984 which mysteriously slowed to 90 mph over the Florida Straits, then plummeted from radar, only to be seen 35 minutes later to crash into the sea off Bimini Island, 20 miles from where it vanished. Two witnesses saw it. The water is about 18 feet deep. Yet it left no trace. Why had no SOS been sent in that 35 minutes? Why hadn’t it been on anybody’s radar scope? Where, in fact, had it been?
     These are only a few of the mysteries in this one corner of the Triangle. The body of evidence is no more amazing than the individual organs of mystery. Each case stands on its own, and together they form the quilt of enigma that has become the Bermuda Triangle legend.
  

    However, to solve one case— and no doubt some will be solved— does not solve the Triangle, for the disappearances have revealed more mystery to us than just the disappearance of planes and ships. They have revealed a very unique place on this already unique globe. Each mystery is equally a part of the Triangle’s enigma, such as “Electronic Fog.”
     This phenomenon is most frequently reported in the Miami/Keys/Bahamas corner of the Triangle than in any other section of the Triangle. Other electromagnetic anomalies must exist. Their presences is reflected in the sudden and alarming spinning of compasses, or moments where the compass drastically points in a wrong direction.  Often this does not recur in the same spot, so that it isn’t because of any metal source or wreckage below the surface momentarily deflecting the compass needle.
    On its own, the magnetic peculiarities of the Triangle cannot nurture the aura of deadly mystery that the Bermuda Triangle holds. Coupled with the disappearances, however, and it is hard not to question the relationship of unknown forces to at least some of the enigma.
     It is not nor ever has been the amount of traffic that causes the mystery anyway. It is the circumstances of many of those that vanished. There can be no statistically acceptable number of baffling mysteries under the greater heading of “accidents.” For some debunkers to claim that there are no greater number of disappearances in the Triangle than elsewhere is not only wrong, it is beside the point.
     Dismissing the Bermuda Triangle cases that way would be like ignoring a series of baffling murders in a big city because that city does not have a higher murder rate than others. Such unsolved crimes have rightly inspired journalists, even police investigators, to continue the hunt even after the case is closed. Jack the Ripper is a notorious case that makes a good example. In 1888 he sought to baffle the police and terrorize the greatest capitol on Earth. As late as the 1960s a City of London detective, Donald Rumbelow, continued the search to solve the crimes. Much later two FBI profilers tried to crack the identity of the famous killer.
     Although the Bermuda Triangle disappearances are not crimes (so far as we know), they fall into the category of the “unsolved.” Unlike the tragic accident, these planes and ships have been plucked from safety, silently, mysteriously. Hundreds of them.  After the search ends, questions remain. I am one of those who continues to hunt because the “scene of the crime” is not a normal one.
     The accident, with all her gambols, has scattered the remains of great vessels and giant aircraft over the area. But it is not these that inspire me.  It is those who are deftly taken. There is also one other thing: it is without doubt a part of the Triangle’s great enigma, the factor that removes these disappearances from common tragedy. 
     Just off Miami is the Bahamas, a huge archipelago situated on two very shallow seamounts. A searcher and potential rescuer can have no better accomplice in finding wreckage than these shallow banks. Yet although they reveal known wrecks and tragedies, they are mute about those that have vanished here.
     The Bahamas continue to be the most traveled archipelago in the world. They are very low-lying islands situated primarily on 2 immense banks called the Great & Little Bahama Banks. If the ocean were but 50 feet below its present level, these would be two huge islands in the Atlantic, the present Bahama islands representing only mere hillocks.

mapbahamas

Most good maps delineate the areas of the Great Bahama Bank in white to indicate its shallowness. This allows one to see the deeper blue and oddly formed canyon running down its middle called The Tongue of the Ocean: a place with its own lively reputation for mystery, geologic and otherwise. The large island to its west is Andros.

       The exotic appearance of the archipelago has inspired many to look upon the Great and Little Bahama Banks as the residue of a once huge island. However, in 1933 American physic Edgar Cayce predicted that part of the ancient continent of Atlantis would indeed be found here, and in trance sessions he even mentioned the island of Bimini. In 1968 oceanographer Dr. J. Manson Valentine dived in the shallow waters off this major fishing and entrydrop-off port (only about 50 miles off Florida) and discovered what have become famous as the “Bimini Stones,” a long wall or road made of megalithic stones that once must have been on land.
     Fun and very esoteric theories, deeply believed by those of  clairvoyant conviction, have intertwined Atlantis with

The”Drop-off” east of Andros, into the deep Tongue of the Ocean.NASA

the missing ships and planes of the Bermuda Triangle.  The many mysterious megalithic ruins that pepper the sea bottom are indeed intriguing, but the sea bottom of these shallow banks holds a greater intrigue for me. They are the true accomplice to the Triangle’s baffling enigma. Nowhere has any remains of those that vanished over these shallow waters Bimini02been found, then or now.
     In modern times over-flights have brought and continue to bring to light curious geometric patterns on the shallow banks below, apparently manmade when the banks were above water

The “drop-off” around Bimini, into the deep Florida Straits on one side and the Northwest Providence Channel on the other. NASA

thousands of years ago. 
     Almost every geometric pattern has been observed at one point, detected either by the growth pattern of underwater flora or its absence. Dives have uncovered floors with strange geometric patterns on them, and infrared has revealed mysterious prehistoric mounds (on Bimini). All of this, apparently, built by a civilization unrecorded in our own ancient annals.
   These ancient mysteries are matched by geologic ones, like the deep Tongue of the Ocean, a huge Tongue of the Oceanoddly shaped canyon which cuts through the Great

NASA photo of the cul-de-sac of the Tongue of the Ocean. Note how sharply it is cut into the surrounding shallow bank. Also note the deep rippling of the bottom of the surrounding bank, an indication of just how shallow it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bahama Bank and ends in a circular cul-de-sac about 40 miles in diameter. 
     USOs are another part of its modern mystery— “Unidentified Submarine Objects.” Some have been reported as traveling at incredible speeds, to be oblong in shape or oval, and from Dan Burack’s last Mayday, to be involved in disappearances. The Bahamas also happen to be a major spot for UFO sightings, but only USOs seem to be unique there. . . according to those who study such phenomena. A number of  unexplained straight lines have been photographed from the air on the banks below. They cannot be the wake of boats or of anchors that had been dragged since some have been noted ending at a little spit of land and continuing unbroken on the other side. . . (!).

     The next corner of the Triangle is the  bustling commercial port of  San Juan, Puerto Rico.  But in order to get there we must fly the busiest and most alluring corner of the Triangle. Let us head out to the Bahamas!

The Website of Gian J. Quasar

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