Three Bermuda Triangle Stories You Haven’t Heard of - but Should
Updated: Mar 23
Have you traveled through the Bermuda Triangle and lived to tell the tale? Probably!
Although an unusually large number of boats and airplanes have mysteriously vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, this 500,000 square mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, roughly bound by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico is actually one of the world's most heavily trafficked water ways. Although there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of ships and airplanes that did not vanish in the Bermuda Triangle, the ones that have, vanished in some very mysterious ways
Background on the Bermuda Triangle
I was very surprised to learn that the Bermuda Triangle is actually a 500,000 square mile stretch of ocean because growing up I was always under the impression it was a very small area of ocean in Bermuda that was easy to avoid. In fact the Bermuda Triangle is actually one of the most heavily traveled waterways. This is pretty surprising because sailors are some of the most superstitious people around, so it seems out of character for them to be so willing to frequently travel through the Bermuda Triangle I figured they would want to steer clear of the area.
Since the nineteenth century, 50 ships and 20 airplanes have mysteriously vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. In almost all of the reported cases, the ships either vanished completely without a trace, or were found abandoned with no signs of damage, or a struggle from the missing crew. The one thing all of these cases have in common is that there is no apparent reason for the disappearance and often no distress signals were ever transmitted.
Columbus and the First Reported Incident
Way back in 1492, when Columbus “Sailed the Ocean Blue,” he reported strange happenings while traveling through what is now known as the Bermuda Triangle. When they first arrived in the region, Columbus reported seeing a “great flame of fire” crash into the sea and he alleged that the light appeared in the distance a few weeks later. I’m fairly certain Columbus saw a Meteor and had no idea what it was, but some people online think it was aliens. While I do believe in aliens, it seems far more likely that Columbus saw a meteor crash into the ocean not a UFO.
His Crew also experienced erratic compass readings and were unable to determine which direction was north. Experts now believe that these erratic readings were caused by a section of the Bermuda Triangle in which true north and magnetic north align. I’m going to be honest I’m not sure what that means. You can check out this article if you want to learn about magnetic versus true north.
I’m not at all surprised that the legend of the Bermuda Triangle has grown so much considering sailors are a particularly superstitious bunch and Columbus's men we’re experiencing strange occurrences in an “unexplored” land, at a time when people believed the world was flat. It is no surprise that these first explorers created the foundations of the rich supernatural Bermuda Triangle Folklore that has been built on by various tall tales and very unexplained disappearances.
The Ellen Austin (1880)
One of the most famous legends from the Bermuda triangle is the faithful journey of the Ellen Austin's crew. This is a story that was so popular among sailors that it has been retold and altered so many times that it’s hard to separate the truth from fiction. What makes this story so powerful is while we might not know what actually happened, we can corroborate some major pieces of the story.
According to legend, the Ellen Austin departed on its usual route from Liverpool to New York on December 5th 1880. This was supposed to be the ship's last journey as a packet vessel before being sold to a German shipping company. The voyage went swimmingly until early 1881, when the crew reached the Sargasso Sea. The crew spotted an abandoned Schooner that was eerily floating around the open water surrounded by a dense fog. The crew observed the ship from a distance for two days before the captain determined that it wasn’t a pirate trap and sent a crew on bored. When the expedition arrived, they found that the ship was well maintained and aside from the crew, captain’s log, and the ship’s name plate missing, all of the ship's rations and cargo were intact. The Ellen Austin’s captain saw this as the opportunity of a lifetime, to bring in a second vessel full of valuable mahogany wood. The captain sent a prize crew aboard the derelict ship and ordered them to sail in tandem to New York.
The journey went smoothly at first, but out of the blue, the ships were hit with a violent two day storm that separated them. Once the skies cleared, the derelict ship was nowhere to be seen. About a day later, the crew of the Ellen Austin found the abandoned ship drifting in the horizon, but when they approached it, the prize crew was nowhere to be seen. Once again all of the ship's belongings were left behind, except the Captain's log and crew were missing yet again. The superstitious crew of the Ellen Austin believed the ship had to have been cursed and wanted to get as far away from it as possible. Unfortunately, greed got the best of their captain and he convinced some of his bravest sailors to man the derelict ship, claiming there was no way the same thing could happen twice on his watch.
Unfortunately, he was very wrong and things got weird. The two ships sailed incredibly close to each other to ensure they would not get separated, but an impenetrably thick fog came out of nowhere and surrounded the two ships. Visibility was pretty much nonexistent and despite the two ships sticking very close together, they lost sight of the derelict ship. The fog suddenly cleared and there was no sign of the abandoned ship or her crew, so the spooked crew and captain of the Ellen Austin cut their losses and went full speed towards New York.
We will never know what exactly happened to the crew of the Ellen Austin because the story has been told and retold so many times that it has changed so much from the original. Despite the original incident occurring back in 1881, the story wasn’t picked up by any newspapers until 1906 and by that point the details of the story had been changed quite drastically. All we do know for sure is that the Ellen Austin really was a packet vessel that sailed between New York and England and during that time period was in fact captained by AJ Griffin. The Ellen Austin did in fact set sail from Liverpool to New York in December of 1880. A derelict vessel full of mahogany wood was in fact found, however, there is no record or where or when it was encountered. It's tough to say what actually happened and when, but elements of the story are true.
USS Cyclops (1918)
One of the most famous and mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle occurred in March of 1918, when the USS Cyclops disappeared on a voyage between the West Indies and Baltimore. Along with having one of the coolest ship names in Navy History, the USS Cyclops was a 545 foot long US Navy transport vessel that was manned by a 306 person crew. From 1910 to 1917, the Cyclops had been sailing between the Baltic Sea, Caribbean and Mexico transporting coal and rescuing refugees along the way. When the United States entered WWI, the Cyclops changed function and became a key asset for the US Navy, transporting soldiers and coal to power ships across the world.
In March of 1918, the USS Cyclops was on a mission, transporting around 11,000 tons of Manganese ore, used in steel making, from Brazil to Baltimore. The vessel stopped in Barbados to refuel and resupply the ship before the nine day journey to Baltimore. The last transmission from the Cyclops was a message that simply read “Weather Fair, All Well.” The ship never made it to Baltimore. The US Navy scoured the trade route, beaches, inspected remote bays, and radioed the ship for weeks, but nothing was ever found of the Cyclops or her crew. The ship just vanished with no SOS, no debris, no dead bodies or clothing, not even an oil slick. The disappearance of the USS Cyclops marks the largest loss of life, unrelated to naval combat, in the U.S. Navy History.
There have been many proposed explications for why or how the USS Cyclops could have just vanished, but most of them have some major holes. One suggests that German U Boats sunk the Cyclops in an act of war. While this might seem like a logical explanation, it fails to account for the fact that there was no debris or oil slick, or any signs of damage that are usually associated with war. Another theory suggested that a sea monster was to blame. This explanation was not based in reality, but would be pretty cool if the Kraken lived in the Bermuda Triangle. The most likely explanation is that the USS Cyclops was carrying a very heavy load and the ship was unbalanced. As a result, when a rouge wave hit the Cyclops, the ship flipped over and sunk before anyone could escape or put out a distress signal.
Flight 19 December 1945
This is one of the craziest, most mysterious disappearances in the history of the Bermuda triangle. At 2:00 pm on December 5, 1945, five TBM Avenger Torpedo bombers, with a 14 man crew, left Fort Lauderdale on a routine navigational training flight. The bomber squad, nicknamed Flight 19, successfully dropped practice bombs without incident and everything seemed to be going according to plan. However, at approximately 3:45 pm, the Ft. Lauderdale flight tower received a distress signal from Taylor (the flight captain), who sounded worried and confused.
The following are direct quotes from the tower's interaction with Flight-19.
“Cannot see land” “We seem to be off course” -Taylor
“What's your position” - Flight Tower
Then after a few moments of silence, the tower operators peered out into the clear day in the direction where the planes were supposed to be coming from but they were not there.
“We cannot be sure where we are” “Repeat cannot see land” - Taylor
Contact was lost for ten minutes and when it resumed the flight tower was speaking with a different member of flight 19.
“We can’t find west. Everything is wrong. We can’t be sure of any direction. Everything looks so strange, even the ocean” - Flight 19 crew member
After 20 minutes of radio silence a different member of Flight 19 contacted the flight tower.
“We can't tell where we are … everything is … can’t make out anything. We think we may be about 225 miles northeast of base” - Flight 19 pilot
Then the flight tower received the last ever transmission from Flight 19.
“It looks like we are entering white water … We’re completely lost” - Flight 19 pilot
Within a few minutes of the tower losing connection with Flight 19, they scrambled to dispatch two PBM Mariner flying boats equipped with rescue equipment to try and rescue the Flight 19 crew. About 10 minutes into the rescue flight, the tower made contact for the last time with one of the two rescue teams who also vanished. That day, six aircraft and 27 men vanished without a trace. For five days, the Coast Guard, Navy, and Naval aviation personnel scoured 250,000 square miles of the Atlantic Gulf, but nothing was ever found, no bodies, no wreckage, no life rafts, and not even an oil slick. The disappearance was so dumbfounding that the official Navy report declared “it was as if they had flown to Mars.”
While no one knows for sure why so many ships and airplanes have vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, there are a bunch of theories, most of which are completely unfounded. There are a lot of claims about UFO activity and an underwater UFO base located in the Bermuda Triangle. However, the sources on these are super unreliable and I decided not to even site my sources on this to try and quell the spread of misinformation. I have literally seen people sighting the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a science fiction movie, as a primary source. I have also seen people fabricating the flight logs I quoted above to include some lies about Flight 19 encountering UFOs. I don't want to poo poo on anyones parade, Emmy and I believe in aliens and UFOs, these are just unsubstantiated and often times fabricated claims.
Some people also claim that the Lost City of Atlantis resides in the Bermuda Triangle and their lost technology is responsible. While there are actually a lot of fairly credible reports claiming that the lost city of Atlantis is located inside the Bermuda Triangle, I actually couldn't find anything of substance supporting Atlantis being responsible for the disappearances.
The most likely explanation is that rough waves and sudden storms are responsible for these disappearance's. These are really not all the fun or interesting but an oversimplified explanation is that the topography of the ocean in the Bermuda Triangle is favorable for making massive rouge waves.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you did, please consider sharing it on social media or with a friend. If you’re interested in learning more about the Bermuda Triangle, check out our podcast about it and the Bennington Triangle. You can find the Misfits and Mysteries Podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and on your favorite Podcast Platform. Also sign up for our newsletter!
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