Thursday, December 16, 2010


Victoria, November 1872.

The Victoria was a brig that "departed New York for England the moment the Mary Celeste got under way" and "vanished completely with all hands." (Nash, p. 336.)

Kusche investigated three of Nash's alleged Triangle victims, the Lotta, the Viego, and the Miramon, and in none of the cases found evidence that the ship in question even had the good grace to exist in the first place, let alone vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. With a track record like this, I doubt there's much to this case.

I'll have to research this one in more detail when I get around to it, which won't be easy, as Nash gives a bibliography, but no inline citations. It should also be noted that Nash's book is subtitled as an anecdotal history of missing persons, so even Nash himself doesn't claim all his stories are demonstrably true. If the Victoria ever existed, I note as in all such cases that any number of things could have happened to a nineteenth-century sailing ship crossing the Atlantic without radio, without anybody ever hearing about it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

City of Boston

City of Boston, January 28, 1870.

The City of Boston, built by Todd and McGregor [sic] in 1864, was an iron vessel with strong engines. For safety, she was ship-rigged as well. In those days, canvas was carried both to steady the ship and to be used in an emergency if the engines broke down. The Boston was 332 feet long. She had a beam of 39 feet, and a tonnage of 2,278, and was propelled by two engines. Repairs had been made after her last trip to New York. At that time the damaged propeller was changed for another with a new type of flange. There were several engineers who claimed that if the Boston ran into a bad storm with the new two-flanged propeller, she would be in danger. But the vessel received the highest ratings from Lloyd's of London, and few paid attention to the warnings of the maritime engineers.

In the winter of 1870, the Boston was given the stamp of approval and left New York under the command of Captain J. J. Halcrow. She stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 28. After she sailed from that port with 199 persons aboard, the Boston was never heard from again.

Icebergs were considered, and, in view of what happened to the Titanic years later, they may indeed have caused the loss of the Boston. January, however, is not a month of extreme danger from icebergs on the North Atlantic. Stories that she was overmasted were dismissed as ridiculous, and a statement that she had probably turned turtle was also considered highly improbable. The two-flanged propeller came in for discussion, but since there was no gale or storm at the time, this was considered unlikely.

The fate of the Boston is still a mystery, and her name must be added to the long list of ships which have sailed into the unknown from the great seaport of New York. (Snow, Mysteries and Adventures Along the Atlantic Coast, pp. 270.)

No gale or storm? Not so fast, bucko.

From The New York Times:

February 22, 1870, p. 8.

Captain Brooks, of the City of Brooklyn, which arrived here on Sunday evening, reports strong easterly gales during the whole voyage, and the officers of ships which arrived yesterday report heavy ice fields on the course the City of Boston must have taken. The propeller attached to the vessel is a new two-flange one, fitted during her last visit to this port, her original three-flange propeller having been broken during her last voyage from Liverpool. Captain Brooks is of opinion that the strength of the new propeller would not be sufficient to enable her to make headway against the adverse winds which she must have encountered, and therefore, that the worst to be feared is that she has been driven out of her course; but he and other Captains recently arrived express confident opinions that she will ultimately reach Liverpool safely.

February 23, 1870, p. 4.

All the great transatlantic lines have their own tracks as distinctly charted down and separated as if they were rival railways. The Inman track, after leaving Cape Race, curves considerably towards the north, and runs in higher latitude than any other of the main sea-tracks, except that of the Glasgow steamers.

The season is somewhat early for icebergs, but the abnormal tropical blasts we have had until lately, and which have been traced on the American coast beyond the Canadas, may have begun the work of dislodging the ice masses on the southern coast of Greenland.

March 17, 1870, p. 1.

A Report of Overloading

One thing which has tended to increase the anxiety respecting the safety of the steamer — if any thing could add to the apprehensions regarding her — was the dispatch from London, printed in the Times of yesterday, to the effect that in the House of Commons, on March 15, "Sir J. Parkington said it was reported that the City of Boston left America loaded twenty inches deeper than the underwriters allowed. He gave notice that he should ask the Government to inform the House if there was any truth in this report."

This statement Mr. Dale, the agent in this City, emphatically declares to be untrue. The cargo of the ship was as follows: 390 tons of beef, 200 barrels of flour, 486 bales of cotton, 12 cases of sewing-machines, 18 tons of oil-cake, 88,500 pounds of flour, 189,700 pounds of bacon, 10,376 pounds of wheat, 14 bales of varieties, 82,672 pounds of tallow, and 36 bales of hops.

The Gale She Probably Encountered

A passenger who went over in the Russia, which left here on Feb. 2, when the City of Boston had been four days out, says in a communication to the London Times: "We heard of no gales on that side at that time, and for the first two or three days of our voyage we found the sea smooth and the sailing fine — no signs whatever of previous bad weather. But afterward it became very rough. During the latter half of our passage we were beset by a most ugly tempestuous sea — such a one as, in four previous passages across the Atlantic, I had not known. The wind was ahead, and continued so up to the port of Liverpool. We were constantly shipping the most tremendous seas, and our noble vessel, strong and steady and magnificent as she is, seemed yet put to her utmost resources to hold her position: It was indeed a stormy time, and instead of making the passage in nine days, as is usual with the Russia, we were eleven. We were all grateful enough, however, to get through as we did. I have no doubt that this was the weather from which the City of Boston suffered. Indeed, we heard apprehensions expressed for her safety the first moment of our arrival at Liverpool. She probably encountered the storm several days before we did, and it may then have been even yet more violent. I cannot imagine how a vessel could make her way through such a sea without being very strong and perfect in all her parts. If there was any weak spot in her machinery it must inevitably have succumbed. If, therefore, the steering apparatus of the City of Boston was defective, as is alleged, she was no doubt disabled by this weather, and may be lost.

From Mitchell's Marine Register:

April 2, 1870.

The City of Boston, on the 29th of January was off Nova Scotia, and on that night a hurricane set in from the south-east to south-west. As already mentioned in this journal, Capt. Bulmer, of the Helene Marion, on arrival at Spithead, reported that he left New-York with the City of Boston, that his ship fell in with the hurricane, and while hove to, lost his ship's foretopmast and jibboom, although no canvas was on her at the time, and his new sails were blown away out of the gaskets. This hurricane was felt more or less severely in that part of the Atlantic for several days, so that the City of Boston could not have escaped it. In the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of February 23 the following appeared in the maritime intelligence:

"Halifax Feb. 11. — The Master (Hackett) of the Charles Tupper schooner, arrived here, has just reported that on 31st January he saw to the southward of Sable Island a steamer, which threw up rockets three times and shifted her position round all points of the compass so that he could not make out the position; at 5 p.m. it was a lat. 43.30."

On the 11th of February the City of Boston was behind time, but the terrific weather alone was enough to account for a few days over-due. When fears began to be entertained, the paragraph just quoted was canvassed; and so confident were all parties that the steamer in distress could not have been the City of Boston, that the report was discredited. It was stated that search had been made for wreck between Sable Island and the main land, but none could be discovered. Capt. Hackett however, it will be seen, speaks of the southward, which would be to seaward of the island. Bearing in view the fact that the gale veered round to north-west, the steamer in distress would be about where the City of Boston might have been expected to be fallen in with on the 31st, particularly if the machinery broke down, and the Captain determined to put back. We have not seen any statement tending to clear up the doubts as to the steam-ship in distress seen by the Master of the Charles Tupper; and to discredit is not to disprove. The Master of this schooner, we must suppose, did not invent the tale, and his crew could confirm or contradict the report. If this steamship from which rockets were thrown up was the City of Boston, she, no doubt, foundered on the night of the 31st January; and if no tidings are heard of any of the crew, it would be owing to her boats having been destroyed by the fury of the elements previous to her sinking. This is the only incident reported in any way bearing to her loss. If we discard it, we must speculate upon other causes. The first is — was she in a seaworthy state? The ships of this line are uninsured, and have the reputation of being well found, and kept in a sound state of repair. What the waves might do during a hurricane it is beyond any human power to predict. Machinery is liable to break from excessive strains, and it is a common occurrence for the blades of screws to break off, or the shaft to meet with accident. Granted, therefore, that her hull and equipment were in an efficient state, we come to the question of her lading. The City of Boston called at Halifax after leaving New-York, and Mr. Inman's agent there wrote to say that, on steaming out of that port, she drew twenty-one feet seven inches. This, it is said, is less by seven to ten inches than she had been loaded on previous voyages; and the professional Officers of the Board of Trade have pronounced an opinion that it was quite impossible that, with the declared weights of the cargo put on board, and the great accommodations set apart for passengers, she could have been overloaded. There is, after this authoritative opinion, but one theory left to discuss. We discard altogether fire and ordinary leakage; when either of these takes place there is usually time to get boats into the water.

The only theory, therefore, that we can revert to as a last resort, is that of a collision with ice in heavy weather. Larger quantities of drift ice and bergs have been encountered in the Atlantic this season than for many years past, and the ice has got detached, and thus fetched away to the southward and westward much earlier than usual. The steamship Aleppo, which arrived at Boston on the 20th February from Liverpool, reported that "on the 15th she passed south of some immense fields extending about 100 miles east and west; her position at noon that day was, by dead reckoning, latitude 48°, longitude 46°." The City of Baltimore, (steam-ship) from New-York on Feb. 19, "passed several small icebergs on Feb. 23, in lat. 44 N., lon. 49 W. and subsequently spoke the Euxene (ship), bound east, lat. 51 N. lon. 14 W." There were a few arrivals, also, of sailing ships, during February, which brought still earlier intelligence of the disruption of ice from the Polar regions. The America (steam-ship), which arrived at New-York on the 13th March, reported passing, in lat. 40.05 N., lon. 48 W., two immense icebergs; and the Nebraska (steam-ship) which reached New-York about the same time, reported heavy ice in lat. 44 N., lon. 48 W. The master of the Etna (steam-ship) on his last voyage, also reported that a considerable amount of field ice was seen. We could extend this list to the reports of between seventy and eighty vessels arriving in Europe or America during the past two months. The New York steamship had much difficulty in working out of the mass of ice, and for security the steamers are ordered to be kept to the southward of their tracks. There is no great stretch of the imagination required to conceive that the City of Boston may have received such injury from the ice as to cause her to founder rapidly. She was certainly one of the first vessels this season to cross when the ice appeared, and may have been caught in a dangerous position for ships and boats. As to the ship being in such a high latitude as to be out of the drift or eastward recurvation of the Gulf Stream and where she would find but little if any current to carry her toward Ireland or the Azores, we give no credence to it. If the City of Boston did not go down in the hurricane of the 31st of January, or founder from contact with ice, she would have been heard of before this; and her passengers and crew are, we fear, beyond human aid.

August 26, 1870, p. 2.

Philip H. Warner, a machinist, who was in the habit of visiting the steamers almost every time she came to Halifax, went on board to see the Chief Engineer the day before she sailed. He went into the engine-room with that officer. He saw that her shaft had been heated, and had some conversation in regard to that fact. As the statements made to him by the Chief Engineer were admitted by the Judge subject to the objection of the plaintiff's counsel, we quote that portion of the evidence:

"The Chief Engineer said the main shaft had heated, and that it was not running true, the same as it had done with the three-winged fan, and that he had to drive the engine faster and the shafting faster, which was the cause of the heating; he said the steamer had been over-driven in her last trip from New-York to Halifax, and still she was not doing the same amount of work she had been doing; and he never approved of a two-winged fan, and never ran a boat with one all the time he had been an engineer; he helped to put on the two-winged fan in New-York; he told me the two-winged fan would heat her, and be likely to set her on fire; he was not very willing to go home in her with the two-winged fan."

So the City of Boston may or may not have been overloaded. She may or may not have hit an iceberg. There's even an outside chance she was dynamited for the insurance money.

But what we know is that her three-winged screw had been replaced with a two-winged screw, which was less effective. Thus, engine and shaft had to be driven faster, overheating the shaft.

The storm the City of Boston must have encountered was so severe that there would be no margin of error and all parts of the ship would have been subjected to extreme stress. If the report of overheating is true, the shaft broke, disabling the ship in one of the worst storms imaginable, so that she was sure to sink, or the overheated shaft set her on fire.

What's more, while the City of Boston is sometimes listed as lost in the Bermuda Triangle, she was definitely lost outside the Triangle. The icy seas off Halifax surely do not belong to the Bermuda Triangle.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Viego, 1868.

"The Spanish merchant ship Viego vanishes in the Bermuda Triangle." (Nash, p. 362.)

Kusche could not find any records that this ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, vanished outside the Triangle, or even existed in the first place. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 46.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Lotta, March 1866.

"The Swedish bark Lotta bound for Havana from Göteborg disappears in the Bermuda Triangle north of Haiti." (Nash, p. 362.)

Kusche could not find any records that this ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, vanished outside the Triangle, or even existed in the first place. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 46.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

James B. Chester

James B. Chester, February 28, 1855.

Sometimes erroneously referred to as the James Cheston. (Group, pp. 22.)

On February 28, 1855, in the general vicinity of the Azores, the crew of the merchantman Marathon sighted the bark James B. Chester. The bark was sailing erratically, as if no one was at the helm, and did not answer hails.

Mate Thomas boarded her and found her deserted, as if in a great hurry. The cabins had evidently been ransacked: Tables and chairs were overturned and clothes and books lying around. The ship's papers and compass were missing, but the wool cargo and provisions were still there.

The captain of the Marathon had a prize crew take the Chester to the Albert Docks in Liverpool. There the Chester became a spooky tourist attraction.

There was a lot of speculation as to what had happened to the crew of the Chester on the lonely expanse of the Atlantic, but every theory met with objections. Pirates or mutiny might explain the chaos on board, but what about the lack of blood? The crew might have looted the ship, but what was missing was not really worth abandoning a ship for an open boat in the middle of the ocean. Some said a giant octopus might have gotten the crew and ransacked the cabins in the process, which usually serves as the springboard for the mystics to suggest that then the Atlanteans might have gotten them just as well. (Snow, Mysteries and Adventures Along the Atlantic Coast, pp. 308.)

Some claim that none of the boats were missing. (Chaplin, p. 32.)

Group specifies that the three-masted bark James B. Chester was found some 1,100 kilometers southwest of the Azores.

Could the crew have so misjudged the condition of the ship as to take to the lifeboats in a storm? Or had some unknown terror driven the crew overboard?

Group found the answer in the archives of The New York Times. It had in vain been waiting there to be found by any sensationalist writer who cared to do a thorough search.

April 3: The news that the Marathon found the Chester reaches New York. The cargo is valued at $150,000. Someone tried to bore holes into the hull. Two out of three boats were missing. It is believed that the crew murdered the captain and fled. Another article on the same page reports that the crew of the James Cheston [sic] was picked up by the Two Friends on March 15.

April 6: The owners are notified that the captain arrived in Wilmington, Delaware.

April 10: Eight crewmembers of the Chester disembarked the Dutch ship Two Friends in Savannah on April 7 and were arrested for murder.

April 11: Two crewmembers testify that the captain was sick, bored holes into the hull with the mates, and offered hush money to other crewmembers. One sailor states there was only one foot of water in the hold, not seven as the log claims. Captain White of the Chester arrives in Boston and denies any knowledge of the holes in the hull and asserts the crew abandoned the ship because she was in danger of sinking.

April 12: Captain White and the Mates Chason and Packwood are arrested for barratry. Six crewmembers testify that there was only one foot of water in the hold and that nothing else was wrong with the ship. The article hints that rum may be to blame for the whole affair.

April 13: The two mates accuse the captain of unnecessarily abandoning the ship, as there was only one foot of water in the hold and she was seaworthy. A crewman calls the voyage a "Bacchanalian frolic."

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Bella, April 6, 1854.

According to Berlitz, the Bella was a schooner abandoned in the West Indies. (Berlitz, Without a Trace, p. 21.)

As Kusche observes, this case originates with Harold Wilkins (Wilkins, Strange Mysteries of Time and Space, pp. 7.), who did not give any sources. The London Times and standard works on shipwrecks don't mention the Bella. Lloyd's confirms she existed, built in Liverpool in 1852 and bound for Brazil, but doesn't mention any accident. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 28.)

The "strange mystery of time and space" Wilkins means is not the Bermuda Triangle. It is rather the Roger Tichborne mystery. Tichborne was lost with the Bella, and the mystery was an imposter claiming to be him.

Wilkins writes that the Bella was overloaded to the point that her cabin furniture was stowed on deck to make room for cargo. She was bound for Kingston, Jamaica. Six days after the Bella had sailed from Rio de Janeiro, another ship found wreckage on her presumed course, including an overturned long boat marked, "Bella, Liverpool." The night before the wreckage was found, the weather had been gusty, but not stormy.

Although Wilkins does not mention where the wreckage was found, Kusche calculates that in six days the Bella could not have sailed farther than Cape San Roque.

So whatever happened to the Bella, as far as the Bermuda Triangle is concerned, the mystery is solved: She met her fate in the South Atlantic, far from the Triangle. This is not a Bermuda Triangle mystery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

City of Glasgow

City of Glasgow, January 1854.

The City of Glasgow, 1,080 tons [sic], black iron hull with sails and a steam engine, owned by the Liverpool and Philadelphia Steamship Company, sailed from Liverpool for America on March [sic] 1, 1854, with 399 passengers, mostly emigrants, and 81 crewmen. She vanished without a trace. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 86.)

When she became overdue, her owner's agents, Richardson Brothers and Company, suggested engine trouble. Later, the papers printed rumors about her having become icebound, been taken by pirates, been wrecked off Africa, and been seen near the Bahamas.

With that, Winer informs us that this North Atlantic mystery should indeed be chalked up to the Bermuda Triangle, as she would have taken a southerly course to avoid icebergs and storms. From the Irish Sea, she would have sailed southwest past the Azores to at least latitude thirty-five degrees north, then west to at least longitude sixty-five degrees west. This would put her in the vicinity of the Bermudas, from where she would proceed northwest to Delaware Bay.

Yet even if you assume that the Bermuda Triangle extends some distance north of Bermuda or that the City of Glasgow ended up passing south of Bermuda through the Triangle proper, only a tiny part of her course would have been in or only near the Bermuda Triangle.

With his narrative sleight of hand, Winer, at other times one of the more reasonable Bermuda Triangle writers, succeeds in placing another mystery ship in or near the Triangle. But if he were to get away with it, each and every loss of a ship crossing the Atlantic could be blamed on the Bermuda Triangle, as long as it is not proven that that specific ship was on a northerly course or met her end outside the Triangle.

Thus, as far as the subject of this blog is concerned, we have a solution for the mystery of the City of Glasgow. As she was very probably lost outside the Bermuda Triangle, whatever mystery she is, she is not a Bermuda Triangle mystery.

As for the solution of that mystery, the loss of an early steamship is as unsurprising as that of a sailing ship. There was no radio, and any number of things might have happened without anyone ever hearing of it. Apart from the usual suspects like icebergs and storms, the novel iron hull may have been faulty and broken in two, or the propeller shaft may have broken and pierced the hull.

First ocean going iron steamship.

The Glasgow shipbuilding firm of Tod and Macgregor had the idea that an iron screwship would pay and accordingly built as a speculation the steamer City of Glasgow which they intended to run on a new service between the Broomielaw, in Glasgow, and New York.

Her dimensions were 227 feet in length by 32 in beam, giving her a tonnage of 1,610 by builder's measurement, while she had 2 beam engines totaling 350 nominal horsepower geared to a single shaft with a propeller 12 feet in diameter by 18 feet pitch. The arrangement was peculiar. The engines were on one side of the ship and a beam crossed the keel line. On the other side of the ship was gearing which reduced the engine speed 3 to 1. With her 3 flue boilers, working up to 10 lbs. pressure, the machinery was heavy for its type, 428 tons, and with the coal it accounted for 42 per cent of her displacement.

For what it's worth:

City of Glasgow left Liverpool on 1 January, New Year's Day, 1854, with an estimated 480 passengers and crew, but was never heard of again. Her fate remains a mystery to this day. Some official registries mark her final date of departure as 1 March 1854; the reason for the discrepancy is unknown. It was reported that a portion of the bow of a ship, bearing the name City of Glasgow in gilded letters, washed ashore at Ballochgair near Campbeltown on 25 October 1854.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Modest Proposal for the Mystics

Don't you think it's funny that of the last dozen triangular ships, most were Navy ships? Did the Martians or Atlanteans have an extraordinary appetite for US government property during the first half of the nineteenth century?

Or is it maybe that the loss of a Navy ship, presumably built well enough to survive a sea battle, was more noteworthy, enough to fill the papers for weeks, months, and years, while the loss of a merchantman was nothing special and did not make a splash in the papers at a time when a person about to embark on a sea voyage would make their will?

Here's one that did make a splash: the President. The world's largest ship, vanished crossing the Atlantic, "the first steamship to founder on the transatlantic run when she was lost at sea with all 136 on board in March 1841."

True, she had a weak hull and was top heavy, underpowered, fitted with inferior paddlewheels for the crossing, overloaded, and last seen struggling in a gale. But who's to say she was a storm victim? Who's to say she didn't vanish in the Bermuda Triangle?

President encountered a gale and was seen on her second day out laboring in heavy seas in the dangerous area between Nantucket Shoals and Georges Bank. She was not seen again.

But who's to say she went down off Cape Cod? Did anyone see her sink?

No. She may well have gone off course, struggled on into the Bermuda Triangle, and gotten by the Atlanteans.

Or even better, take the Naronic. That one's even more mysterious.

"After leaving Liverpool, she stopped briefly at Point Lynas, Anglesey, North Wales, to put her Maritime pilot ashore before heading west into heavy seas, never to be seen again."

But can we be sure that heavy seas, or icebergs, or a bomb, got her? If we can't be sure which one of the above got her, why can't the Atlanteans have gotten her?

We don't know that her course wasn't southerly enough to take her through the Bermuda Triangle. And if it wasn't, we can always extend the Triangle northward to cover her course. After all, it has been made to cover the Gulf of Mexico, the Azores, and even the Pacific.

Mystics, I propose you add the President and the Naronic to your triangular rolls without further delay.

And while you're at it, go forth and, like the beachcomber combs the beach, comb the old-time newspaper archives for merchantmen and small craft vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. There must be not hundreds, but thousands and thousands before the invention of radio alone.

It's like with cockroaches: If you see one, you've got a thousand. There must be a thousand civilian ships lost in and around the Bermuda Triangle for every Navy ship. The Ardilla and the other newfound victims of Quasar's pages 56 and 57 are only the tip of the iceberg.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

USS Grampus

USS Grampus, March 15, 1843.

The USS Grampus vanished on her way home to Charleston. She was last seen by the Madison off St. Augustine, Florida, on March 3, 1843. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 67.)

"Subsequent mysterious disappearances include another U.S. schooner/warship: Grampas [sic] in March of 1843 after sailing south of the Carolinas."

Now, ladies and gentlemen, in my line of business we call this a howler. Thankfully, my grandpas have never been wrecked… I mean, my family has done a lot of crazy things, I can tell you that… They've often been wasted… But they've never been wrecked… At least not to my knowledge.

Schooner USS Grampus presumably foundered in a gale off Charleston, South Carolina with all hands. At least 25 drowned. Last heard from on 15 Mar. 1843.

How would The Donald put it? Location, location, location:

Grampus was last spoken to by Madison off St. Augustine, Florida on 15 March 1843. She is presumed to have foundered in a gale off Charleston, South Carolina with all hands. Because of that location, some credit her otherwise unremarkable loss to the Bermuda Triangle.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Rosalie and/or Rossini, August 3, 1840.

London Times, Nov. 6, 1840 -- the Rosalie, a large French ship, bound from Hamburg to Havana -- abandoned ship -- no clue to an explanation. Most of the sails set -- no leak -- valuable cargo. There was a half-starved canary in a cage. (Fort, Lo!, p. 138.)

The article:

SHIP DESERTED. — A letter from Nassau, in the Bahamas, bearing date the 27th of August, has the following narrative: — "A singular fact has taken place within the last few days. A large French vessel, bound from Hamburgh to the Havannah, was met by one of our small coasters, and was discovered to be completely abandoned. The greater part of her sails were set, and she did not appear to have sustained any damage. The cargo, composed of wines, fruits, silks, &c., was of very considerable value, and was in a most perfect condition. The captain's papers were all secure in their proper place. The soundings gave three feet of water in the hold, but there was no leak whatever. The only living beings found on board were a cat, some fowls, and several canaries half dead with hunger. The cabins of the officers and passengers were very elegantly furnished, and everything indicated that they had been only recently deserted. In one of them were found several articles belonging to a lady's toilet, together with a quantity of ladies' wearing apparel thrown hastily aside, but not a human being was to be found on board. The vessel, which must have been left within a very few hours, contained several bales of goods addressed to different merchants in Havannah. She is very large, recently built, and called the Rosalie. Of her crew no intelligence has been received." (Times (London), November 6, 1840, p. 6, col. 3.)

Kusche reports that there were no more articles in the London Times. The New York Times and The Nassau Guardian did not yet exist then. The Library of Congress and the British Library told him that there are no libraries with copies of August 1840 newspapers from Nassau or Havana. The Musée de la Marine in Paris had no information on this allegedly French ship.

Yet Lloyd's proved helpful:

I… regret that a search of Lloyd's Records has failed to reveal mention of any incident involving a vessel named Rosalie in the Bahamas in 1840.

However, I am enclosing extracts from Lloyd's Records, which contain references to a vessel named Rossini, which would appear to be the vessel in which you are interested.

Lloyd's List, September 25, 1840: Havana, 18th Aug. The Rossini, from Hambro to this port, struck on the Muares (Bahama Channel) 3rd inst.; Crew and Passengers saved.

Lloyd's List, October 17, 1840: Havana, 5th Sept. The Rossini, from Hambro to this port, which struck on the Muares (Bahama Channel) 3rd ult. was fallen in with abandoned, 17th ult. and has been brought into this port a derelict.

(J. F. Lane, Assistant Shipping Editor, Lloyd's, letter to Kusche, August 15, 1973, in Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 25.)

Kusche found enough similarities between the Rossini and the Rosalie to make him agree they might be the same ship. "The names were so close that one could have been mistaken for the other, especially if they were handwritten, which most messages were in 1840." The correspondent in Nassau might have written Rossini, and the editor in London might have read Rosalie.

Both vessels were bound from Hamburg to Havana. Both were found near Nassau.

The dates were a good match, too: "It was reported on August 27 that the Rosalie was brought into Nassau 'within the last few days,' and the Rossini was found on August 17 and towed to Nassau."

Kusche examined the vice admiralty court minutes on the salvage of the Rossini, to see if the circumstances of the discovery of the Rossini match those in the tale of the Rosalie, which would prove that both were one and the same. But the only clue he found was the minutes mentioning "curious circumstances" under which the Rossini was found. This certainly would be a fitting description of the Rosalie story, but is too vague for a definite proof. The government in Nassau lost the affidavit with the exact description of the discovery of the Rossini, so unless someone feels like searching the Bahamian government's files high and low…

Here the matter could have died. Yet, just as love never dies, the mystics never rest:

The first recorded merchant ship disappearance was in 1840, when the Rosalie vanished in the Sargasso Sea. Rosalie has often been listed as a derelict ship instead, confused with the very non mysterious drifter Rossini, and claimed to have never existed at all. However, the British Maritime Museum does hold a record of her. She was built in 1838, of 222 tons. There is still some debate whether she vanished or was found derelict. The London Times of 1840 listed her as derelict.

This is pathetic — a prime example of how the mystics grasp at straws to stay afloat in their self-made Bermuda Triangle. All that the British Maritime Museum record proves is that a ship called Rosalie existed at that time. It does not prove that she ever had an accident, let alone in the Bermuda Triangle. As for the Times article, I quoted it above, and it may refer to the Rossini.

The Rosalie was indeed a real ship. She was built in 1838 of 222 tons of wood. In 1840 she was found deserted but in ship shape near the Bahamas. She was not the Rossini.

I don't know about you, but I feel much better now that I know that the Rosalie was built of wood, and not out of cookie batter like most ships of her era.

Yet one thing about the only fact Quasar could find and consequently waves about like a castaway waves his shirt is interesting: In the Times, the drifter was referred to as "very large" and "recently built." Quasar's Rosalie certainly was recently built, but would 222 tons (plus the weight of the non-wooden parts) empty displacement be very large, even in 1840? Observe that she was not just referred to as large compared with the small Bahamian coasters, but as "very large" in absolute terms.

The Cutty Sark, which was built in 1869 and admittedly contains iron reinforcements, weighs 963 tons. The USS Constitution, built in 1797 and more sturdily than a merchantman, displaces 2,200 tons, of which, of course, not all is wood.

The Charles W. Morgan was built at the right time (1841), displaces 313.75 tons (loaded?), and was "comparable to many whaling ships of the time." Would she have been called "very large"? If I got that right and gross tons means weight, the Mary Celeste weighed "198 Gross Tons as built 1861" and "282 Gross Tons after rebuild 1872." She was always considered a small ship.

Would be interesting to know what the Rossini weighed. I'm not an expert on mid-nineteenth-century sailing ships, but if I'm right, Quasar has shot himself in the foot with his 222 tons of wood.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

USS Hornet

USS Hornet, 1829.

"The USS Wildcat, with 31 crew; the schooner Lynx, with 40 men; and the schooner Hornet (which had won a notable victory over HMS Peacock in 1812) all vanished in 1824." (Quasar, p. 55.)

Brig USS Hornet lost with all hands in gale off Tampico, Mexico on 29 Sep. 1829. 145 lost.

Radio Yerevan was asked: "Is it true that in Moscow, Mercedes cars are being given to citizens?"

Radio Yerevan answers: "In principle, yes, but it is not Moscow but Leningrad, not Mercedes but Ladas, and not given to but stolen from."

Radio Yerevan was asked: "Is it true that comrade cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's car was stolen in Moscow during the celebrations?"

Radio Yerevan answers: "In principle, yes, but it was not in Moscow, rather in Kiev, and it was not his car, but his bike, and it was not comrade cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, but comrade high school teacher Gagarin, and his first name was not Yuri, but Leonid."

Radio Yerevan was asked: "Is it true that the schooner USS Hornet vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in 1824?"

Radio Yerevan answers: "In principle, yes, but it was not in the Bermuda Triangle, rather off Tampico, and she was not a schooner, but a brig, and she did not vanish, but was lost in gale, and the year was not 1824, but 1829."

Then again there was a schooner Hornet, but the rest of the data doesn't seem to fit… If she vanished in the Bermuda Triangle four years after the Navy sold her, I can find no account of it. And of course it was the brig Hornet that "had won a notable victory over HMS Peacock in" 1813, actually, not 1812.

The mystics wouldn't be called mystics if they ever got their facts right.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

USS Lynx

USS Lynx, January 1820.

"The USS Wildcat, with 31 crew; the schooner Lynx, with 40 men; and the schooner Hornet (which had won a notable victory over HMS Peacock in 1812) all vanished in 1824." (Quasar, p. 55.)

Remaining off the southern coast through the end of the year, Lynx departed St. Mary's, Ga., 11 January 1820, bound for Kingston, Jamaica, to continue her service suppressing pirates. She was never seen nor heard from again, and despite the searchings of schooner Nonsuch, no trace of her or her 50-man crew was ever found. The disappearance of Lynx is one of the continuing mysteries of the sea.

Obviously, during the Age of Sail, all kinds of things could happen to ships, and without radios, no one would ever hear about it. Doesn't mean the Martians got her. Doesn't mean they didn't get her, either. Tossup. Think or believe what you want.

Quasar didn't bother to get the year right, though.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USS Epervier

USS Epervier, July or August 1815.

The voyage of the Epervier in 1815 was an auspicious occasion. She carried the peace proposals for the War of 1812. She left Algiers for Norfolk and vanished, delaying the ending of hostilities. Here is one instance where the possible phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle could have played a crucial role in world politics.

As for the facts:

Sloop-of-war USS Epervier disappeared in the Atlantic with 132 sailors and 2 marines after transiting the Straits of Gibraltar on 14 July 1815. She may have encountered a hurricane reported in the Atlantic on 9 August 1815.

(BTW, it was a treaty with the Dey of Algiers, and not the peace proposals for the War of 1812. But why let such a minor fact get in the way, or go out of one's way to check it? One war or other… All the same, huh?)

Observe the cherry picking by the true believers: In reality, the ship may have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle or somewhere in the Atlantic outside the Triangle. The ship may have been hit by the hurricane or not. But to them, to be able to claim another mysterious victim, she was of course lost inside the Triangle and of course not hit by the hurricane.

A sane person would assume she was sunk by the hurricane, until shown evidence to the contrary. Occam's razor, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

USS Wasp

USS Wasp, October 9, 1814.

"The USS Wasp, October 9, 1814, sailing in the Caribbean with a crew of 140." (Berlitz, Bermuda Triangle, p. 64.)

"The USS Wasp, which mercilessly pummeled British shipping in the War of 1812, mysteriously disappeared in the Caribbean in October 1814." (Quasar, p. 55.)

Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey gives you a lengthy write up in The Bermuda Triangle, pp. 63.

As for the facts:

The American warship continued her ravages of the British merchant marine. On 12 September, she encountered Three Brothers, a brig, and scuttled her. Two days later, she sank the brig Bacchus. On the 21st, an eight-gun brig, Atlanta, ran afoul of Wasp, and she, too, suffered the ignominy of capture. Deemed too valuable to destroy, Atlanta was placed under the command of Midshipman Geisinger and was sent home to the United States. She entered Savannah, Ga., safely on 4 November. From the time Wasp and Atlanta parted company, nothing was heard from the former. She was last seen by a Swedish merchantman bound from Rio de Janeiro to Falmouth, England, about three weeks after the Atlanta capture and was said to be headed for the Caribbean. Wasp apparently sank in a storm.

Snow identifies the Swedish merchantman as the bark Adonis, quotes from her log, and then elaborates:

At the time the Wasp was about two hundred miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. There was a rumor that a British frigate came into Cádiz, Spain, terribly crippled and with severe loss of men, and that the injuries had been caused when an American craft had engaged her in battle. The American vessel was said to have disappeared suddenly in the night, so suddenly that she might have gone down. Of course, if the relatively small Wasp had engaged a heavy frigate in battle, her fate was sealed before she began the engagement.

Another possibility which may explain what happened to the Wasp is that Captain Blakeley intended to run down toward the Spanish Main and then to pass through the West Indies. About the same time that the Wasp should have been in the area, two English frigates sighted and began to chase a craft about her size and type. A sudden heavy squall struck the three vessels, and when the squall ended the two frigates were afloat, but the Wasp, if it was the Wasp, had disappeared.

There is actually nothing surprising in a vessel of that size capsizing in a squall, especially when carrying every last bit of canvas to supply the needed speed to escape from her enemies. (Snow, Mysterious Tales of the New England Coast, pp. 238.)

Friday, August 6, 2010


Patriot, January 1, 1813.

During the week of January 1, 1813, the schooner Patriot disappeared. On board was Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of former Vice President Aaron Burr and the wife of Joseph Alston, governor of South Carolina. (Snow, Incredible Mysteries and Legends of the Sea, pp. 167; Thomas Jeffrey, Bermuda Triangle, pp. 45; Winer, Devil's Triangle 2, pp. 34.)

On December 31, 1812, Theodosia sailed aboard the schooner Patriot from Georgetown, South Carolina. The Patriot was a famously fast sailer, which had originally been built as a pilot boat, and had served as a privateer during the War of 1812, when it was commissioned by the United States government to prey on English shipping. She had been refitted in December in Georgetown, her guns dismounted and hidden below decks. Her name was painted out and any indication of recent activity was entirely erased. The schooner's captain, William Overstocks, desired to make a rapid run to New York with his cargo, and it is likely that she was laden with the proceeds from her raids.

The Patriot and all those on board were never heard from again.

Mystics have made much hay of the dismounted guns and the safe conduct granted by the blockading British. Of course, all lost ships not sunk by enemy warships can safely be assumed to have been beamed up to a Martian mothership.

Thomas Jeffrey trots out the old canard that the Patriot cannot have been sunk by a storm because no wreckage was found, as wreckage is found from every ship that sinks in a storm.

A perennial popular favorite is that pirates got her. Bermuda Triangle writers relate all kinds of deathbed confessions by would-be pirates that wanted to immortalize themselves with such a final yarn. They said they made Theodosia walk the plank or kept her as their sex slave until she died from exhaustion. Historically, walking the plank was much less popular than keeping sex slaves.

Winer very reasonably objects that pirates would not have dared to plunder in the presence of the British blockading fleet and that seas would have been too rough to board any ship.

Here some stories from the Wikipedia article, in case you don't have any of the Bermuda Triangle books handy:

Following the Patriot's disappearance, rumors immediately arose. The most enduring was that the Patriot had been captured by the pirates Dominique You or "The Bloody Babe"; or something had occurred near Cape Hatteras, notorious for its wreckers.

Her father refused to credit any of the rumors of her possible capture, believing that she had died in shipwreck, but the rumors persisted long after his death and after around 1850 more substantial "explanations" of the mystery surfaced, usually alleging to be from the deathbed confessions of sailors and executed criminals.

One story which was considered somewhat plausible was that the Patriot had fallen prey to the wreckers known as the Carolina "bankers." The bankers populated the sandbank islands near Nags Head, North Carolina, pirating wrecks and murdering both passengers and crews. When the sea did not serve up wrecks for their plunder, they lured ships onto the shoals. On stormy nights the bankers would hobble a horse, tie a lantern around the animal's neck, and walk it up and down the beach. Sailors at sea could not distinguish the bobbing light they saw from that of a ship which was anchored securely. Often they steered toward shore to find shelter. Instead they became wrecked on the banks, after which their crews and passengers were murdered. In relation to this, a Mr. J.A. Elliott of Norfolk, Virginia, made a statement in 1910 that in the early part of 1813, the dead body of a young woman "with every indication of refinement" had been washed ashore at Cape Charles, and had been buried on her finder's farm.

Writing in the Charleston News and Courier, Foster Haley claimed that documents he had discovered in the State archives in Mobile, Alabama, said that the Patriot had been captured by a pirate vessel captained by John Howard Payne and that every person on board had been murdered by the pirates including "a woman who was obviously a noblewoman or a lady of high birth". However, Haley never identified or cited the documents he had supposedly found.

The most romantic legend concerning Theodosia's fate involves piracy and a Karankawa Indian chief on the Texas Gulf Coast. The earliest American settlers to the Gulf Coast testified of a Karankawa warrior wearing a gold locket inscribed "Theodosia." He had claimed that after a terrible storm, he found a ship wrecked at the mouth of the San Bernard River. Hearing a faint cry, he boarded the hulk and found a white woman, naked except for the gold locket, chained to a bulkhead by her ankle. The woman fainted on seeing the Karankawa warrior, and he managed to pull her free and carry her to the shore. When she revived, she told him that she was the daughter of a great chief of the white men, who was misunderstood by his people and had to leave his country. She gave him the locket and told him that if he ever met white men, he was to show them the locket and tell them the story, and then died in his arms.

Another myth about her fate traces its origin to Charles Etienne Arthur Gayarre's novel Fernando de Lemos: Truth and Fiction: A Novel (1872). Gayarre devoted one chapter to a confession by the pirate Dominique You. In Gayarre's story, You admitted having captured the Patriot after he discovered it dismasted off Cape Hatteras following a storm. You and his men murdered the crew, while Theodosia was made to walk the plank: "She stepped on it and descended into the sea with graceful composure, as if she had been alighting from a carriage," Gayarre wrote in You's voice. "She sank, and rising again, she, with an indescribable smile of angelic sweetness, waved her hand to me as if she meant to say: 'Farewell, and thanks again'; and then sank forever." Because Gayarre billed his novel as a mixture of "truth and fiction," there was popular speculation about whether his account of You's confession might be real, and the story entered American folklore. The American folklorist Edward Rowe Snow later put together an account in Strange Tales from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras incorporating the Gayarre story with later offshoots; for example, on February 14, 1903, one Mrs. Harriet Sprague issued a sworn statement before Notary Freeman Atwell, of Cass County, Michigan claiming to corroborate the details of You's confession in Gayarre's 1872 novel. Mrs. Sprague described the contents of an 1848 confession by pirate Frank Burdick, an alleged shipmate of You's when the Patriot was discovered. The pirates left most of Alston's clothing untouched, as well as a portrait of Alston. Later, "wreckers" (locals known for rifling stranded vessels in often-criminal fashion) discovered the deserted Patriot and one of them carried the painting and clothing ashore, giving it to a female suitor. Years later, a physician caring for the now-elderly woman noticed the unusually expensive oil painting in the Nag's Head shack and it was supposedly confirmed to have belonged to the Alston family. The detail of the painting in Mrs. Sprague's story appears to be derived from a separate legend that first appeared in print in 1878. In 1869, Dr. William G. Pool treated Mrs. Polly Mann for an ailment; in payment she gave him a portrait of a young woman which she claimed her first husband had discovered on board a wrecked ship during the War of 1812. Pool became convinced the portrait was of Theodosia Burr Alston, and contacted members of her family, some of whom agreed, though Pool conceded "they cannot say positively if it was her." None of them had ever seen Theodosia in life. The only person who had actually known Theodosia that Pool contacted was Mary Alston Pringle, Theodosia's sister-in-law. To his disappointment, she could not recognize the painting as one of Theodosia.

A popular (though very improbable) local story in Alexandria, Virginia, suggests that Theodosia Burr Alston may have been the Mysterious Female Stranger who died in Alexandria at Gadsby's Tavern on October 14, 1816. She was buried in St. Paul's Cemetery with a gravestone inscription that begins: "To the memory of a / FEMALE STRANGER / whose mortal sufferings terminated / on the 14th day of October 1816 / Aged 23 years and 8 months."

The truth, however, is probably more prosaic.

A less romantic analysis of the known facts has led some scholars to conclude that the Patriot was probably wrecked by a storm off Cape Hatteras. Logbooks from the blockading British fleet report a severe storm which began off the Carolina coast in the afternoon of January 2, 1813, and continued into the next day. James L. Michie, an archaeologist from South Carolina, by studying its course has concluded that the Patriot was likely just north of Cape Hatteras when the storm was at its fiercest. "If the ship managed to escape this battering, which continued until midnight," he has said, "it then faced near hurricane-force winds in the early hours of Sunday. Given this knowledge, the Patriot probably sank between 6 p.m. Saturday [January 2] and 8 a.m. Sunday [January 3]."


Thursday, April 15, 2010


Ardilla, 1808.

The "eighteen-gun Spaniard Ardilla… was probably carrying silver when she vanished en route from Louisiana to Spain in 1808." (Quasar, p. 57.)

Obviously, like with the Anne, during the Age of Sail, all kinds of things could happen to ships, and without radios, no one would ever hear about it. Doesn't mean the Martians got her. Doesn't mean they didn't get her, either. Tossup. Think or believe what you want.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

USS Pickering

USS Pickering, August 20, 1800.

"The USS Pickering disappeared on August 20, 1800, with a crew of ninety, en route to Guadeloupe in the West Indies from Newcastle, Delaware." (Berlitz, Bermuda Triangle, p. 64.)

"The USS Pickering disappeared on a voyage to the West Indies in 1800, around August 20." (Quasar, p. 55.)

From the Navy:

Brig USS Pickering believed lost with all hands in a gale in Sep. 1800. Last seen 20 Aug. 1800 when she departed for the West Indies. Approximately 105 drowned.

Monday, March 29, 2010

USS Insurgent

USS Insurgent, August 1800.

The USS Insurgent vanished in August 1800 with 340 men. (Berlitz, Bermuda Triangle, p. 63.)

Alternatively, "In September 1799 the USS Insurgent, a thirty-six-gun French-built warship with 340 crew, vanished." (Quasar, p. 55.)

From the Navy: 

Frigate USS Insurgent departed Hampton Roads, VA on 8 Aug. 1800 for West Indies. Never heard from again. Ship and crew of 340 presumed lost in severe West Indies storm on 20 Sep. 1800.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

General Gates

General Gates, 1780.

In 1780, the General Gates went missing. No British warship laid claim to sinking her.

But the Navy happens to have some records:

General Gates returned to Boston harbor 13 April 1779, so unseaworthy from battering gales that her crew, at times, had despaired of ever reaching port. She was ordered sold 2 June 1779. In August she was loaned by the Navy Board to the Deputy Commissary of Prisoners at Boston to convey prisoners to New York. On completion of this mission, she was sold.

One wonders how unseaworthy the General Gates was when she sailed for her final, fatal voyage.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Seabird, 1750.

One day in 1850, fishermen saw a large sailing ship cutting through a rough sea, heading for the reefs off Easton's Beach near Newport, Rode Island. The men on the beach shouted and waved in warning. The ship swung around, navigated the narrow channel, and beached itself. 

Although she had apparently been under manned control when she had turned into the channel, and no one had been observed leaving the vessel, when the fishermen boarded her, they found her deserted, except for a dog. Coffee was boiling on the stove, breakfast sitting on the table, and tobacco odor hanging around the cabin. 

She was the Seabird, due back home in Newport from Honduras with a cargo of lumber and coffee. Her captain was one John Durham or Huxham. 

The last entry in her log was about sighting Brenton Reef several miles offshore. The crew of a fishing boat reported that they had exchanged signals with the Seabird at sea, about two hours before the incident. 

It is not clear whether a lifeboat was missing. The crew of the Seabird may have jumped overboard when they thought their ship was going to hit the reef and been drowned, but what strange guidance had then steered her into the channel? If human agency had guided her, how could the crew vanish unobserved after she had attracted everyone's attention through her near miss at the reefs? In any event, no bodies where ever found. 

The Seabird was wedged too deeply into the sand to be floated off. When a storm hit the area, folks expected to find her shattered to pieces in the morning. 

Yet, when the storm had blown over, no trace of her was to be found on the beach. She had once more negotiated the channel on her own and vanished out to sea as mysteriously as she had appeared from there, never to be seen again. (Gaddis, Invisible Horizons, pp. 131.) 

According to Group, the captain's sleeping gown was found lying in a companionway, but the longboat and logbook were missing. Consequently, there cannot have been an entry on sighting Brenton Reef, and thus there is no evidence that there was any human left on board the Seabird (or Sea Bird) at that point. 

There had been a storm in the morning, but fishermen had allegedly communicated with the captain afterwards. No traces of violence were found aboard. (Group, pp. 21.) 

Group cites C. P. Beauchamp Jefferys, who found that a detailed report was not written down before seventy or eighty years after the alleged fact, and then by an uneducated man who had been a child at the time the story is set. As can be expected, the details are very uncertain: The year was not 1850, but rather 1750, or might have been 1749 or 1760. The name of the captain might be Huxham, Maxham, Hayden, Buffin, or Durham. 

Jefferys' solution is a mutiny against a tyrannical captain. Two crewmen, who had been unjustly imprisoned and were to be murdered by the captain and his cronies, escaped from the brig of the brig, killed off the others one after another as they woke up, deep-sixed the bodies, and made off with the longboat. That's what one of the mutineers allegedly told Captain Henry Robinson of the Soldan

But how could the derelict Seabird then swerve to clear the reef and navigate right into the channel, of all places? Were the winds and currents just right? 

If we don't have a mystery about a supernaturally vanishing crew here, then we have a mystery about a ship with a mind of her own, right? But did that part ever happen, or is that just sailor's yarn grafted onto the story during the decades and decades of oral tradition? 

I rate this one a minor mystery. It may be worthwhile to look into it to see if more evidence can be unearthed as to whether the solution is correct and whether the story ever happened at all. It is, however, not such a high quality mystery as, like, the Carroll A. Deering, where we at least have photos and credible witnesses so we can be sure that the ship existed in the first place and that the incident happened at all. 

Much like the Columbus case, this one's a tossup. What little evidence there is can be selectively dismissed to arrive at any number of theories. 

If you accept the laws of identity and causality implied by any everyday observation (things are what they are and behave according to predictable laws of nature), you'll be looking for a naturalistic explanation like the one outlined by what little evidence there is. If you prefer to believe in a mysterious, unknowable, awe-inspiring universe, you'll conclude that zombie ghouls from Mars beamed the crew up to the mothership for dinner. (They don't seem to fancy dog, though.) 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Galleons

Three galleons, fall 1750.

In fall of 1750, the annual treasure fleet of five galleons, commanded by Captain Don Juan Manuel de Bonilla, on his flagship Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, sailed from Havana to Spain. Off Cape Hatteras, the fleet encountered a hurricane.

The Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe barely made it through the hurricane, and so did another of the galleons, which was captured by English colonists with 32,000 pieces of eight. The three other galleons vanished in the hurricane. No wreckage or bodies were ever found or washed ashore. (Thomas Jeffrey, Bermuda Triangle, pp. 35.)

Mystic Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey tried hard to mystify this non-mystery by harping on how no wreckage or bodies were found, not even by the bankers, the wreckers living on the Outer Banks, who captured the other galleon.

But the assumption that floating wreckage will be found after any shipwreck is wrong, particularly if it is scattered by a storm, particularly if it is scattered by the Gulf Stream, particularly if there are no aircraft for a bird's-eye view. Her attempt is disingenuous on its face, as she mentioned the maelstrom the Gulf Stream causes off Cape Hatteras earlier in her highly fictionalized account. As for the wreckers, had they any motive to tell if they found something anyway?

This is just another tale Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey added, maybe because she was too lazy to do some real research on the true mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, or maybe to pad her collection of Age of Sail stories she seems to have been fond of.

No mystery here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Anne, 1733.

The Anne, a "stout vessel of 200 tons," from Beaufort Town, Georgia Colony, to England, with returning colonists, "utterly vanished." No survivors. (Thomas Jeffrey, Devil's Triangle, p. 155.)

Obviously, during the Age of Sail, all kinds of things could happen to ships, and without radios, no one would ever hear about it. Doesn't mean the Martians got her. Doesn't mean they didn't get her, either. Tossup. Think or believe what you want.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Longboat, September 1, 1609.

The longboat of the wrecked Sea Venture was sent for help by the colonists stranded in Bermuda. It was never heard from again. Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey calls it the first rescue vessel to vanish in the Bermuda Triangle and the first unsolved vanishing there. (Thomas Jeffrey, Bermuda Triangle, pp. 25.)

The longboat with Mate Henry Ravens and seven volunteers set sail for Virginia on August 28. After two days, they were back and reported they could not find their way out of the reefs. On September 1, they sailed once more, never to be seen again.

Little wonder in my opinion that a longboat didn't make it all the way from Bermuda to Virginia. The Gulf Stream probably carried them all the way to Iceland.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sea Venture

Sea Venture, July 28, 1609.

The Sea Venture, carrying colonists en route to Virginia, was wrecked on a reef off Bermuda, which led to the accidental colonization of Bermuda. (Snow, Mysteries and Adventures Along the Atlantic Coast, pp. 76.) By the wreck, William Shakespeare was inspired to write The Tempest.

The wreck itself was totally un-mysterious:

On June 2, 1609, the Sea Venture set sail from Plymouth as the flagship of a seven-ship fleet (towing two additional pinnaces) destined for Jamestown, Virginia, as part of the Third Supply, carrying 500 to 600 people. On July 24, the fleet ran into a strong storm, likely a hurricane, and the ships were separated. The Sea Venture fought the storm for three days. Comparably-sized ships had survived such weather, but the Sea Venture had a critical flaw in her newness: her timbers had not set. The caulking was forced from between them, and the ship began to leak rapidly. All hands were applied to bailing, but water continued to rise in the hold. The ship's guns were reportedly jettisoned (though two were salvaged from the wreck in 1612) to raise her buoyancy, but this only delayed the inevitable. The Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers himself, was at the helm through the storm. When he spied land on the morning of July 25, the water in the hold had risen to nine feet, and crew and passengers had been driven past the point of exhaustion. Somers deliberately drove the ship onto the reefs of what proved to be Bermuda in order to prevent its foundering. This allowed all 150 people aboard, and one dog, to be landed safely ashore.

But wait, we're in the realm of cheap horror writers. So before the wreck, Somers saw a mysterious light dancing in the rigging, "like no phenomenon of heaven or earth he'd ever seen before." (Thomas Jeffrey, Bermuda Triangle, p. 24.) William Strachey, secretary-elect of the Virginia colony, mentioned it in his journal, and Shakespeare fashioned the "apparition" into the spirit Ariel.

Dare I say, St. Elmo's fire? Yep, my man Billy agrees, and he was there:

Only upon the Thursday night, Sir George Somers, being upon the watch, had an apparition of a little round light, like a faint star, trembling and streaming along with a sparkling blaze, half the height upon the main mast and shooting sometimes from shroud to shroud, 'tempting to settle, as it were, upon any of the four shrouds. And for three or four hours together, or rather more, half the night it kept with us, running sometimes along the main yard to very end and then returning; at which Sir George Somers called divers about him and showed them the same, who observed it with much wonder and carefulness. But upon a sudden, toward the morning watch they lost the sight of it and knew not what way it made.

The superstitious seamen make many constructions of this sea fire, which nevertheless is usual in storms, the same (it may be) which the Grecians were wont in the Mediterranean to call Castor and Pollux, of which if one only appeared without the other they took it for an evil sign of great tempest. The Italians and such who lie open to the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Sea call it (a sacred body) corpo sancto; the Spaniards call it St. Elmo and have an authentic and miraculous legend for it.

Thanks, Billy. Ragnar 1, Adi-Kent 0.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Seventeen Caravels

Seventeen caravels, July 4, 1502.

Thirty-two caravels carrying treasure and slaves sailed from Santo Domingo for Spain despite Columbus' warning that the westerly winds meant an approaching hurricane. (Chaplin, pp. 21; Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 25.) In the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, the hurricane struck. Only five ships made it through the storm. The flagship of Admiral Antonio de Torres El Dorado and twenty-six other ships were lost.

Ten wrecks were found on reefs and beaches, but seventeen caravels vanished. No trace of them has ever been found. They were the first known ships to vanish in the Bermuda Triangle.

Not hard to figure out how. They were not as lucky as ending up on reefs and beaches.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus' flotilla: Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria, September/October 1492.

Christopher Columbus is the first European on record crossing the Bermuda Triangle. Conveniently for sensationalists, he supposedly observed some weird things. (Chaplin, pp. 22; Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 17; Thomas Jeffrey, Bermuda Triangle, p. 20.)

He saw a "marvelous branch of fire fall from the heavens into the sea," (Columbus, log, September 15) which obviously was a meteor.

I doubt that it was a meteorite. They would be commonplace to seamen and hardly cause for such a furor. (Chaplin, p. 23.)

That's a prime example for how sensationalists work. According to the log, there was no furor over the meteor, only later on over the long journey and the malfunctioning compasses. Plus, in that day and age it wouldn't at all have been strange for folks to make a furor out of a meteor, commonplace or not. After all, in those Dark Ages, celestial phenomena were considered omens.

Columbus saw lights, which may or may not be called strange and which may or may not have been luminous fish, or torches belonging to Indians on a native three-hour tour.

His compasses may or may not have malfunctioned more or less, for which there may or may not be a simple, naturalistic explanation, like his being confused by his discovery of magnetic variation, or some iron object wreaking havoc on the compass.

Sunday 23 September
 Since the sea had been calm and smooth the men complained, saying that since in that region there were no rough seas [Sargasso Sea], it would never blow for a return to Spain. But later the sea rose high and without wind, which astonished them, because of which the Admiral says here that the high sea was very necessary for me, a sign which had not appeared except in the time of the Jews when they left Egypt and complained against Moses, who took them out of captivity.
 The sea "rising" without any reason might be explained that they encountered the North Equatorial Current while exiting the Sargasso Sea. Without this, it is hard to explain, except as undersea tremors.

From this grudgingly reasonable explanation for the waves, the same author in another work veers into UFO territory regarding the light:

The unexplained light, rising and then hovering in the west, is perhaps the most propitious phenomenon recorded in the Triangle. It happened on the eve of discovering the New World, and it inspired Columbus and his crew to sail on and discover the Bahamas. Columbus saw it first, then Pedro Gutiérrez, then "After the Admiral said it, it was seen once or twice; and it was as a small wax candle that arose and lifted up." What both arose (alçava) and lifted up (Levatava) imply is hard to say — whether it means it rose up, hovered, and then disappeared upward or merely vanished while levitating is unclear. (Quasar, p. 116.)

To me, it implies that someone lifted up a torch. Like the Statue of Liberty. Not so hard to imagine.

Rule of Ragnar: If any language can be interpreted to be that of a UFO sighting, someone will.

Today, it is hard for landfall specialists to explain it, since Columbus was too far at sea to have seen any bonfire or torch on land and local island fishermen would not have been so far at sea at night with torches to attract catch.

Apparently, for some people it is harder to believe in venturesome native fishermen than in venturesome aliens.

Some say high winds made the presence of a fisherman unlikely, but others say there were no high winds. As Columbus' original log has been lost, we don't know exactly what the weather was like at landfall.

Then again it is possible that the light did come from an island. The exact location of the island where Columbus first made landfall, called Guanahani by the natives and named San Salvador by Columbus, is disputed. The island today called San Salvador was known as Watlings Island until 1925, when historians prevailed with the theory that this was the one true place. Yet it is just as likely that Columbus unwittingly passed the light-bearing island in the darkness and landed on a more westerly island.

Of the arguments I've read, Pickering makes a convincing case for the Plana Cays with his plot boxes. Ultimately, however, due to the shapes and sizes of the islands, I tend to agree with Verhoog that the Caicos chain was the one true place. I'm convinced that Island IV was Great Inagua, and from there pretty much everything falls into place.

I'm not an expert on Columbus though and may very well be wrong. Still I wonder whether a changing sea level and shifting sands may be the causes why no combination of islands seems to fit perfectly.

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you are a skeptic or true believer. A skeptic would accept that Columbus & crew may have been fallible and medievally ignorant of the true workings of a compass enough to put some iron object near it. A true believer would paint Columbus as a renaissance superman who would never do something like that. Thus the mystic conveniently leaves intact and unsolved the mystery he craves.

After all, if the Bermuda Triangle is so all-encompassing and powerful, how could the very first man known to have traversed it have escaped its spell? (Permit me to editorialize some in this first article, this first, so representative, case.)

The Columbus case (if you want to call it a case) sets the tone for the whole Bermuda Triangle legend, puts it in a nutshell. It's a perfect example of the tug of war between skeptics and mystics, the former ready to accept any naturalistic explanation, even if it is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the latter fighting tooth and nail to discount any naturalistic explanation not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to preserve the mystical worldview they crave for kicks or to feel how insignificant and ignorant they are. Call it an armchair traveler's Grand Canyon:

"You've never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean."
 He laughed. "Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man's magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes."
 "Yes. And that particular sense of sacred rapture men say they experience in contemplating nature — I've never received it from nature, only from…" She stopped.
 "From what?"
 "Buildings," she whispered. "Skyscrapers."
 "Why didn't you want to say that?"
 "I… don't know."
 "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window — no, I don't feel how small I am — but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."

— Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, p. 446.

A mystic will try to preserve a mystery as another excuse to feel small and remain a helpless victim of nature. A proud, reasonable person will use his mind to solve any mystery he encounters.

Or in a nutshell:

"Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge. Others only want to gargle."

— Lawrence Kusche, The Bermuda Triangle Mystery — Solved, p. xiii.

That's what Bermuda Triangle Central is here for — to separate the wheat from the chaff, the truly mysterious cases waiting to be solved from the zombie cases kept alive undead by the mystics. And of course, if possible, to solve the mysteries.