The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media

Larry Holzwarth - May 21, 2022

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The myth boomed with the 1974 release of Charles Berlitz’s book The Bermuda Triangle. Pinterest

11. The creation of the ghost ship Connemara IV

In 1955, following severe storms and gale force winds caused by the passing of Hurricane Ione, the privately owned yacht Connemara IV was discovered adrift in the ocean. There was no trace of its crew or any passengers. Clearly, here was an example of the mysterious nature of the Bermuda Triangle, and it is easy enough today to find web sites and magazine articles describing the discovery of the ghost ship, sailing alone, its crew gone to who knows where. In his book The Bermuda Triangle (1974) writer Charles Berlitz described as “mysteriously abandoned 400 miles southwest of Bermuda”. The book sold over 30 million copies and was instrumental in expanding the myth of the Bermuda Triangle in the 1970s. According to other writers the yacht endured three successive hurricanes while transiting from New York to Bermuda, which overwhelmed its crew.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
There are many stories of ghost ships in the Bermuda Triangle. Blogspot.

That story was patently false. Connemara IV was anchored in the roadstead at Carlisle Bay, Bermuda, on the morning of September 22, 1955. As winds and seas rose from the passing hurricane, its owner, unable to move the vessel to a more secure anchorage, reinforced the mooring lines and deployed additional anchors. The vessel was then left to ride out the storm at its moorings. The storm proved to be too much and the yacht broke from its moorings and drifted out to sea, driven by the storm and prevailing currents. No crew was found aboard when the vessel was discovered because no crew was aboard when the yacht drifted to sea. Richard Winer, who wrote the 1974 book The Devil’s Triangle, was informed of the fact in a letter which he quoted in a subsequent book on the triangle. Too little, too late.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The alleged ghost ship Deering hailed Cape Lookout light just days before grounding on Diamond Shoals at Cape Hatteras. National Park Service

12. The Mystery of the Carroll A. Deering

On January 31, 1921, lookouts at the Cape Hatteras Coast Guard station spotted a vessel aground on Diamond Shoals. The shoals are a major reason the area is known as the “Graveyard of Ships”. Foul weather prevented the Coast Guard from reaching the vessel until four days later, when it was discovered the ship had been abandoned. Two lifeboats, the crew’s personal gear, and the ship’s log were missing. After the Coast Guard determined the vessel was both unsalvageable and a hazard to navigation it was blown up using dynamite on March 4. Extensive investigations into the missing crew and abandoned vessel were conducted by the US Government, including investigation whether the vessel had been hijacked by rumrunners to use to carry illegal liquor (Prohibition then being in effect). But no official finding was ever released.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Carroll A. Deering. Wikimedia.

The ship had been sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Hampton Roads, Virginia, when whatever happened to it occurred. It was found off Hatteras, miles south of the Virginia Capes. It had hailed the Cape Lookout Light on January 28, 1921, and the Coast Guard there reported the vessel had several crewmen aboard. The crew informed the Coast Guard that the ship had lost its anchors in their hail. The Carroll A. Deering tale is an enduring mystery of the sea, but whatever happened to the ship and crew clearly took place well outside the defined borders of the Bermuda Triangle. That has not prevented the perpetuators of the urban myth from citing the Deering as a victim of the triangle. Some use the mystery to alter the vertices of the triangle expanding the allegedly deadly seas to support their theories.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
In Limbo of the Lost, author John Wallace Spencer placed a shipwreck in the triangle despite it resting on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of miles away. Pinterest

13. The Bermuda Triangle was not included in a 2013 survey of the world’s most dangerous waters

In 2013, the World Wide Fund for Nature conducted a survey of the world’s most dangerous seas, based on the number of shipwrecks and their potential impact on marine life. The Bermuda Triangle did not make the grade. Strange that an area alleged by supporters of the myth as being the most dangerous track of ocean in the world should not be considered so by scientific reasoning. Or, maybe not so strange. In creating the myth of the Bermuda Triangle, writers and researchers used sloppy techniques, circular reporting, and creative invention. Statistically, their claims of the numbers of sinkings and disappearances attributed to the triangle are skewed. Many moved accidents from outside the triangle into it. In one case, written by Berlitz, a ship was described as leaving an Atlantic port, never to be seen again.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
V.A. Fogg. Bing.

In truth, a ship of the same name sank in the Pacific, and no record exists of the voyage mentioned by Berlitz. Another often cited victim of the triangle is the tanker V. A. Fogg, which exploded and sank in 1972. In 1969 John Wallace Spencer in his book Limbo of the Lost described the only body to be found was that of the captain, sitting at his desk. The Coast Guard found and recovered several bodies from the wreckage, refuting yet another triangle myth. The V. A. Fogg wreck shouldn’t have been assigned to the Bermuda Triangle at any rate. The ship exploded off the coast of Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of miles from the accepted bounds of the Bermuda Triangle. The same is true of many so-called triangle victims, adding to the myth, but unsupported by facts.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Ghost hunter Richard Winer wrote several books and a film on unsubstantiated events in the Bermuda Triangle. Goodreads

14. The deliberate creation of the Bermuda Triangle was good for book and magazine sales

By the mid-1970s the Bermuda Triangle had generated a substantial number of believers in the mysterious body of water which claimed so many lives. It had also generated skeptics, who scoffed not only at the hints of supernatural or extraterrestrial activities, but at the number of disappearances attributed to the triangle. The supporters of the triangle added events and expanded the triangle, including its shape, in order to include other mysterious losses at sea or in the air. Several writers omitted facts, or added false information, to support their reports of the strange events at sea. Richard Winer, author of a documentary made for television called Devil’s Triangle, was a strong proponent of the supernatural nature of the area. Winer’s books reported events by omitting pertinent facts, such as weather conditions, or altering them from stormy seas to calm weather.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
1976 Bermuda Triangle Game. 1970 Now.

His documentary presented the triangle as an eerie, inexplicable region, in which people, boats, ships, and airplanes vanished without a trace. To lend the story an even more sinister air, he had the documentary narrated by Vincent Price, then known for his horror films. The film was aired in 1974, the same year as his first book on the triangle, The Devil’s Triangle. In both, he presented tales which were clearly refuted by contemporary Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force officials, as well as other government agencies official reports. When confronted with the inconsistencies by skeptics, the well-known hiding place of government coverup reared its head. The smell of conspiracy to keep the public from knowing the truth about the Bermuda Triangle was good for book sales. Book and magazine sales created the Bermuda Triangle, despite the Coast Guard loudly proclaiming such an area did not exist.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The US Coast Guard dismisses the idea of a supernatural Bermuda Triangle though it makes several assistance calls there in all forms of weather. US Coast Guard

15. The Coast Guard assigns the losses of most small boats to operator error

Even those who deny the supernatural effects of the Bermuda Triangle often claim the region is the site for more lost ships than any other in the world. It is not. In fact, though it is one of the highest regions of the world for sea traffic, it does not rank highly for losses. It does have an inordinate number of incidents involving small boats operated by their owners. According to the US Coast Guard the vast majority of those occur due to the inexperience and lack of preparation of the boaters. Boats departing Florida for the island of Bimini for example, frequently either fail to correct their course due to the northerly current of the Gulf Stream, which will push a boat northward as it travels across. Others overcorrect. In either case, they miss the island completely, and can quickly become lost, especially if the weather deteriorates.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Witchcraft Yacht. Pasadena.

Such was the case of the 23-foot yacht Witchcraft, which carried its owner, Dan Burack and a friend, a Catholic priest named Father Patrick Horgan, about a mile out from Miami in order to view the Christmas lights displayed in the city. According to the accounts by Winer, Berlitz, and others the water was calm. According to the Coast Guard, which received a distress call from Burack, the water was rough, with winds and sea rising. The Coast Guard responded to the area where Burack reported he was, but found nothing. A search over the following week failed to find the boat, or evidence of its two occupants. Burack had reported he was near a buoy which, if he was, he misidentified. To proponents of the Bermuda Triangle the boat simply vanished, in sight of land, on a calm day. Coast Guard reports indicate otherwise.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Bimini Road in the triangle, said to be a link to lost Atlantis. tripfreakz

16. The creators of the Bermuda Triangle created several explanations for its existence

While the creators built the triangle upon the backs of the writers before them, none of them concerned with factual accuracy, they also proposed causes for the phenomena they reported. Paranormal activity was a popular solution, unexplained disappearances as part of things that go bump in the night. UFO activity was also proposed by many, at a time when books, films, television, and other media speculated about extraterrestrial visitation heavily. Proponents of Edgar Cayce and psychic phenomena announced the triangle was influenced by magnetic fields emanating from the Lost City of Atlantis, evidenced by a rock formation in the region known as the Bimini Road. They claimed the “road” is clearly a man-made object leftover from Atlantis. Scientists state unequivocally the “road” is a natural formation. The scientists, as they so often are, were dismissed by the believers as being part of a cover-up.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The lost city of Atlantis. Pinterest

Compass variations and the Gulf Stream have been mentioned, both have been well known by navigators for centuries. In recent years, pockets of released methane have been offered as explanations for the loss of ships in the region. One would expect in a region where, according to the believers, so many ships above the norm are lost, shipowners would be required to pay higher insurance rates for their vessels transiting the area. They do not. Lloyd’s of London, the international insurance giant, does not charge higher rates for ships transiting the triangle, and never has. According to Lloyd’s it has no justification to, since the loss of ships is no greater in the region known as the Bermuda Triangle than any other similarly sized tract of ocean in the world. And it is considerably lower than some.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
A rendition of the generally accepted area of the Bermuda Triangle from the Boston Herald. Rare Newspapers

17. The US Coast Guard denies the existence of the triangle beyond creative imagination

The US Coast Guard recognizes the boundary descriptions of the region known as the Bermuda Triangle. Whenever it conducts rescue operations withing the area, the press reports their efforts with breathless headlines such as; “Coast Guard ends search for missing boat in Bermuda Triangle (Tampa Bay Times, January 2, 2021); “BREAKING NEWS: Coast Guard: Missing Ship Sank in Bermuda Triangle” (CBS News This Morning, October 5, 2015) and the like. But Coast Guard records, incident reports, vessel logs, and reports from air patrols contain much of the data which refutes the sensationalists and their descriptions of the events in the triangle. In this they are joined by the United States Navy. The United States Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the name Bermuda Triangle.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Multiple headlines have surfaced around the Bermuda Triangle over the decades. Pinterest.

The US Coast Guard maintains a Bermuda Triangle Fact Sheet, prepared jointly with the US Naval Historical Center. It stresses the need to consider human error when studying losses in those waters. “All too often, crossings are attempted with too small a boat, insufficient knowledge of the area’s hazards, and a lack of good seamanship”, states the Coast Guard succinctly. The Coast Guard also denies supernatural activity in the region. They state, “It has been their experience that the combined forces of nature and unpredictability of mankind outdo even the most far-fetched science fiction many times each year”. By the mid-1990s, boating in the region was so popular the US Coast Guard answered an average of 23 calls per day for assistance. Despite Coast Guard warnings the region is not for the inexperienced sailor, they continue to ply the waters, knowledgeable or not. Unfortunately too many become statistics, but from personal error, rather than paranormal activity.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
A waterspout, a frequent and frequently dangerous occurrence in the waters of the triangle. NOAA

18. The weather in the region of the triangle is unpredictable and can change dramatically and quickly

The Gulf Stream cuts through the Bermuda Triangle, bearing to the north on its journey to the North Atlantic and Europe’s western waters. At its center, the Gulf Stream flows along at a speed of four miles per hour. Essentially a river in the ocean, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream can encounter cooler winds and water while within the triangle. The result of such a collision is a turbulent, dangerous sea, with high waves, and low visibility. The speed of the Gulf Stream can also carry away evidence of disaster with rapidity. Even experienced sailors can be, and often have been, taken by surprise by the sudden changes of conditions. Waterspouts, essentially small tornadoes of water, are common in the area. So are sudden violent thunderstorms, formed by locally isolated air masses, which unleash high winds, lightning, blinding rains, and stormy seas.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
Bermuda Triangle with Hurricane. Hubpages.

The creators of the triangle frequently assert cases of missing ships and airplanes in calm, clear weather. Flight 19 is an example. Flight 19 did take off in clear weather for its ill-fated mission, but by the time it was apparent the flight was lost and a search and rescue mission was needed, the weather had deteriorated badly. In a 1974 BBC documentary, Richard Winer, confronted with errors in his book The Devil’s Triangle regarding the timing of events, the changing weather, and the radio contacts with the flight, asserted there were no errors. Conflicting testimony from professional Naval and Coast Guard officers were dismissed as evidence of government wrongdoing and subsequent coverup. The film may be seen here. In the same film Charles Berlitz mentions the loss of several nuclear submarines as further evidence of the existence of strange activity within the Bermuda Triangle.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The launch of USS Scorpion, lost in 1968 south of the Azores, but outside of the triangle. AP Photo

19. USS Scorpion was not in the Bermuda Triangle when it was lost in 1968

Charles Berlitz claimed the Bermuda Triangle was a factor in the loss of “several” nuclear and conventional submarines in the years following World War II. The only nuclear submarine lost anywhere near the region (but clearly outside its accepted boundaries) was USS Scorpion, lost in May, 1968. When Berlitz made his comments the mystery of what happened to Scorpion was still not fully understood, and rumors of hostile action, accident, and supernatural interference all were in play. It was necessary to extend the boundaries of the triangle in order to place Scorpion’s last resting place within, but sensationalist writers had been performing that exercise for years. By the time Berlitz referred to several submarines, Scorpion’s location had been found, though much regarding its loss remained classified, largely due to Cold War restraints.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
K-219. The National Interest.

However, in 1986, the Soviet Union did lose a nuclear submarine K-219, though it too was outside the widely accepted borders of the Bermuda Triangle. Its loss was due to a fire and explosion in one of its missile tubes. Nothing particularly mystical about it. Yet it quickly fell into the hands of the believers in the Bermuda Triangle mystery, and since the submarine was the property of the Soviet Union it was easy to claim a coverup among writers in the West. The accident followed Berlitz’s comments by more than a decade. It is further evidence that the sea is a harsh master, and mistakes by mariners frequently leave little time for correction before tragedy occurs. Though there is nothing supernatural about it. Sailors have dealt with its vagaries for centuries, the vast majority living through the passage, though many were no doubt eventful.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media

The loss of Navy Flight 19 continues to be attributed by believers to sinister elements at work within the Bermuda Triangle. Naval Aviation Museum

20. It’s impossible to disprove the supernatural nature of the Bermuda Triangle

One cannot prove definitively that there is no death ray powered by an ancient power source emanating from lost Atlantis, far below the Atlantic’s surface. One cannot prove definitively that no extraterrestrials use the Bermuda Triangle as a portal through which to transport humans to other realms. Nor can one disprove the theory the triangle is a window through which humans are whisked, through supernatural means, to another dimension of time and space. But one can prove that many of the incidents so described by believers in the Bermuda Triangle don’t meet the criteria they promote. The evidence of more realistic events aligning to lead to disaster and disappearance outweigh the speculation of supernatural action. Human error, lapses of judgment, and failure of technology appear as the main cause of accidents within the Bermuda Triangle, which does not have an inordinately greater number of such incidents so often claimed.

The Bermuda Triangle Myth Was Created by the Media
The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle lives on through the media sensationalism. Tech Explorist.

But one can trace, through the sequence of articles, books, films, essays, lectures, and discussions, how the urban myth of the Bermuda Triangle was shaped over the 1950s through the present day. One can also compare the assertions of those supporting the supernatural Bermuda Triangle to the official records and investigation reports and easily spot the discrepancies. The believers in the triangle shaped events, locations, and timing to support their hypotheses. The investigators attempted to determine, through scientific method, what led to the disaster in question. The result was the myth of the Bermuda Triangle, complete with government efforts to keep its true nature covered up from the public. “The Coast Guard is not impressed with supernatural explanations of disasters at sea”, reads an official document from that organization. And every day they venture into the triangle, trying to prevent those very disasters at sea.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Sea’s Puzzles Still Baffle Men In Pushbutton Age”. E. V. W. Jones, Associated Press. September 17, 1950

“Bermuda Triangle breakthrough: ‘Key clue’ to solve famous 75-year-old mystery revealed”. Callum Hoare, Express. July 10, 2020

“Loss of PBM Mariner in Bermuda Triangle”. Article, Bermuda Attractions. Online

“Lost Patrol”. Michael McDonnell, Naval Aviation News. June, 1973

“15 Things You May Not Know About Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Sean Hutchinson, Mental Floss. December 14, 2017

“Bermuda Triangle: How ‘unexplainable’ 500-year-old Christopher Columbus mystery was solved”. Callum Hoare, Express. October 17, 2019

“Exorcising the Devil’s Triangle”. Howard L. Rosenberg, Naval History and Heritage Command. Online

“What is the Bermuda Triangle?” Article, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Online

“Handbook of Magnetic Compass Adjustment”. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. 2004. Online

“Solving a mystery of military blunder”. Article, The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. February 9, 2011

“The Bermuda Triangle”. Charles Berlitz. 1975

“The Devil’s Triangle”. Richard Winer. 1974

“The Legend of the Ghost Ship: Carroll A. Deering”. Article, National Parks Foundation. Online

“The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Delusion: Looking Back after Forty Years”. Larry Kusche, Skeptical Inquirer”. November/December, 2015

“Why is there no map of the Bermuda Triangle? The US Coast Guard has the answer”. Paul Ratner, Big Think. February 9, 2018. Online

“Prevailing theories on the Bermuda Triangle”. Kalkomey, April 17, 2011. Online

“What happened to USS Scorpion?” C. J. Clancy, Irish Times. November 5, 2021

“Soviet nuclear submarine carrying nuclear weapons sank north of Bermuda in 1986”. Article, National Security Archives. October 7, 2016. Online

“Vanished without a trace: Inside the myths and mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle”. Natalie Colarossi, Business Insider. February 25, 2020. Online

“The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved”. Larry Kusche. 1986

Also Read: The Deadly Mystery of the ‘Lake Michigan Triangle’