The Miami Triangle

I live in Bermuda. I know. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

No one knows where Bermuda is. Even the British Broadcasting Corporation (Bermuda IS a British Overseas Territory, after all) refers to is as being “in the Caribbean”. One fairly recent Hollywood movie kept placing it in the south Atlantic (confusing it with the Falkland Islands, perhaps?). Just for clarification, Bermuda is in the north Atlantic, a thousand miles north of the Bahamas and approximately 700 miles east of North Carolina.

The one thing everybody in the world has heard of is THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE. The citizens of the Soviet Union were not allowed to know what was going on in the rest of the world during the existence of the USSR, but I visited a year after its collapse and everyone I met asked me about the Bermuda Triangle, and how I had managed to fly out of there without disappearing. My cousin, coming here a few years ago, wasn’t sure what he feared most, the disappearance of the plane he was travelling on or being eaten by sharks as soon as he dipped his toe in the turquoise waters. The fact that no one in living memory had been killed by a shark in Bermuda did not mollify him. It just confirmed that he would die. Needless to say, he survived the round trip AND several swims in the ocean. The only shark he saw was at the Bermuda Aquarium.

Back in the forties and fifties, when planes started disappearing after setting off from Florida – especially the famous Flight 19 from Fort Lauderdale in 1945 – the area in question was known as The Triangle, a vague area with shifting borders. By the 1960s it had been named The Deadly Triangle, which made it far more sinister-sounding, and added the thrill of constant danger. Then journalist Vincent Gaddis, writing in Argosy Magazine, gave it the name The Deadly Bermuda Triangle, and all of a sudden one corner of the location was specified.

It’s also been bruited that the Triangle was to be named the Miami Triangle (as that was the location where most of the disappeared planes left from or were headed towards), but that the Florida tourism authority said it would ruin Florida’s tourism industry. Thus they stuck it to us and called it The Bermuda Triangle.

Now if you look at lists of planes and ships/boats which have disappeared in the so-called triangle (Bermuda-San Juan, Puerto Rico-Miami), you may notice that only TWO FLIGHTS concerned Bermuda in any way or shape: one was on its way to Bermuda from Jamaica, the other had left Bermuda for Puerto Rico. ALL other flights were going to or from Florida, and had nothing to do with Bermuda. Not fair! We Bermudians will spend the rest of our lives explaining to people that life in Bermuda and travel to Bermuda is really amazingly safe.

As for Flight 19, a BBC documentary filmed some 12 years ago (The Bermuda Triangle: Beneath the Waves) set out to investigate and came up with a very plausible explanation: Flight 19’s plan, setting out from Fort Lauderdale, was to fly to Hen & Chickens Islands, do a mock bombing, then over Grand Bahama and back to Fort Lauderdale. There were strong winds that night and, after the mock bombing, the winds took the flight north-east, and the pilots overshot Cistern Cay and mistook Abaco Island for Grand Bahama. Captain Taylor was suffering from spacial disorientation – he thought they were over the Gulf of Mexico at one point and mistook the string of islands by Great Abaco for the Florida Keys. The flight went down about 100 km east of Daytona Beach. The Mariner rescue plane which was sent to search for debris also disappeared, but it was a model which was prone to explosions, so not too much of a surprise.

In an area of sea where there are no visual landmarks, maybe just small islands without houses, it is easy to get lost, and numerous boats and small planes get lost every year.

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DON’T watch any movies about The Bermuda Triangle – they’re all *&Q@Z&%!!! But for a hoot you could watch Arthur Rankin’s THE BERMUDA DEPTHS, which was filmed here. It is total balderdash, but worth seeing for the scene in which a giant devil’s turtle rears up from the sea and knocks Burl Ives’s helicopter out of the sky.

Petet Benchley, author of JAWS, fell in love with Bermuda and based his next novel, THE DEEP, here, and here it was filmed, too, starring Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset. It’s by no means a terrific movie – pure hokum – but it’s got some glorious footage of Bermuda, and hundreds of us filled Marley Beach for land scenes (but ended on the editing floor).

 

 

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