With all this, you might just be wondering exactly what shape is the “Triangle.”


You would not be the first. No two researchers or authors ever agreed, although most were in accord that the Sargasso Sea and the area of the strict triangle between Miami, San Juan and Bermuda embodies the greatest part.

Many have proposed an alternate nodal point, that is, Norfolk, Virginia, calling to mind that Cape Hatteras has been known for centuries as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” However, graveyard implies a burial place for ships, where their rotting carcasses can still be seen.


And that is quite true of Cape Hatteras. Many famous vessels can still be found on the bottom, slammed by the great gales and thrashed by the reefs, like the Union ironclad, Monitor, which foundered here.


But disappearance means no trace is found, implying destruction on a complete and total scale, something beyond even the great reefs and shoals of Cape Hatteras and her wild seas.

The seas off Norfolk are, of course, the Gulf Stream and the routes to Bermuda or south to the Bahamas and Caribbean.


All the ships coming or going to Panama and the East Coast pass by here, to Canada, New York, off to Europe, wherever. The seas of the Carolinas are perfectly juxtapositioned to put them in daily interplay with the greatest seaways of the Triangle.

But though these are hard waters, several mysteries share an uneasy grave here with the rusted relics of the sea.


The freighter Southern Districts passed by here in 1954 and vanished utterly, as have several yachts en route to Bermuda, like Windfall or Dancing Feathers or L’Avenir. The 5 masted cargo schooner, Carroll A. Derring, ghosted up upon the shores here in 1921, totally shipshape but mysteriously deserted.

Captain John M. Waters, once head of Coast Guard Search and Rescue in Washington D.C., wrote in his Rescue at Sea (Van Nostrand, 1966) about the curious disappearance of a Coast Guard commander, James Reed Hinnant. He was commander of the Coast Guard cutter Rockaway. It was a balmy night.


About 300 miles off Cape Hatteras, near the Sargasso Sea, the Rockaway’s propeller became fouled. He ordered diving gear and search lights. He was an experienced diver and was even commended for his diving under fire in the Philippines during WWII.


Suited up, he went over the side to the propeller. Dozens manned the rails and watched the brightened water, glowing from the underwater spot light. After a while they tugged his line to see if he was OK. However, there was no response.


The OD ordered it hauled in, yet it would not budge.





The search for Hinnant was intense, but in the end it offered no clues but this: his air hose and line were found fouled in the propeller. Capt. Waters finishes the narrative:

“What could have happened to an experienced diver only 10 feet below the surface? Had his retaining line and air hose fouled?


If so, he had only to release his weighted belt, take a deep pull of air, flip off the mask, and surface. It is a simple and basic maneuver for a diver. Many speculated that he had been hit by a shark.


There are many large man eaters in that area, and they are attracted to light. Commander Hinnant had been working beneath a large light, and a shark could have come in while he was busy working on the screw. However, no sharks were seen at any time, and there was no disturbance in the water, nor any evidence of a struggle.


No one saw him surface, though many men were watching the water at all times. What happened to him that night will never be known.”

Mystery also befell a Navy KA-6 attack bomber in 1978 while 100 miles off Norfolk.


The last words of the pilot, Lieutenant Paul Smyth, were: “Stand By, we have a problem right now . . .” In the radar plot of the carrier John F. Kennedy (Smyth’s intended destination), they continued to follow the jet and attempt contact for 10 minutes without any response. Then the KA-6 suddenly vanished.


Shortly thereafter, another blip reappeared, tracking in another direction, away from the carrier, then vanished off the radar scope forever. There was never a trace found of the jet, nor any reason why Smyth answered no calls in that period of time; no reason why there was no automatic alarm, nor why they could not eject (ejection also triggers an auto-alarm) And what was that second blip?

Three marines and three children departed in a launch off Surf City, North Carolina, in 1985, only to vanish. The launch was later found . . . at the end of a line of six unused life jackets. No explanation was found, and the launch was towed back in.

Along with dozens of more examples, far too many to recite without being repetitious, Norfolk or the Virginia Capes offer themselves as a point in the “Triangle.” Premier sailor, Alan Villiers, noted this in his Posted Missing (Scribners 1974) saying the Triangle lay between Key West, Chesapeake Bay and Bermuda.

The standard triangle of journalist Vincent Gaddis. Above this is superimposed the “vile vortice” of biologist Ivan Sanderson. While Gaddis sought to catalogue sea mysteries, Sanderson tried to use them to verify his theories of areas of electromagnetic anomalies and underwater UFO civilizations.


However, it was Vincent Gaddis who first tried to give shape to the area. In 1964 he wrote an article for Argosy magazine, entitled “The Mystery of the Deadly Bermuda Triangle.”


From that day on the sea of old mariner lore began to be called by no other name. It was he who offered Miami, San Juan, and Bermuda as the three nodal points.


Yet it wasn’t long before this was challenged. John Wallace Spencer, from whom the term “Limbo of the Lost” originates, wrote the first entire book devoted to the subject (Limbo of the Lost, Phillips, 1969).


He believed it extended from,

“. . . Cape May, New Jersey, to the edge of the continental shelf. Following the shelf around Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, it continues through Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and other islands of the West Indies, and then comes up again through the Bahamas... then up once more to Bermuda.”

Naturalist, Ivan T. Sanderson, who studied several phenomena from Bigfoot to UFOs, held a different view. He observed:

“The popular idea has been that there is a roughly triangular area with sides running from Bermuda to central Florida and thence to Puerto Rico...


This is a glamorous notion, but on proper analysis it does not stand up. It is not a triangle, and its periphery is much greater than the one outlined above.


In fact, the area... forms a large, sort of lozenge shaped area... which extends from about 30 to 40 north latitude, and from about 55 to 85 west.”


Author Richard Winer offered yet another novel shape, stating in his Devil’s Triangle (1974):

“The Devil’s Triangle is not a triangle at all. It is a trapezium, a four sided area in which no two sides or angles are the same.”

He concludes:

“And the first four letters of the word trapezium more than accurately describe it.”

There are any number of other novel shapes which promote an author’s imagination more than his knowledge of the Bermuda Triangle. But John Godwin (This Baffling World) not only identified the area most accurately, but also gave it its most humorous name, calling it the “Hoodoo Sea.”


To add injury to insult, Vincent Gaddis later retracted his statement because it implied the phenomenon had “boundaries,” although it is hard to imagine how there can be a phenomenon if there are no boundaries.


Three varied shapes: The Trapezium of Richard Winer extends far into the Atlantic and Sargasso Sea; Charles Berlitz’s triangle extends close to South America; and the broken line represents John Spencer’s “Limbo of the Lost.”

Drawing lines from the major nodel points of Bermuda, Miami, San Juan and Norfolk creates the “Sea of the Four Triangles.” This about covers John Godwin’s “Hoodoo Sea.”

It is therefore up to the reader to decide, based upon the maps, which shape he/she prefers.


One thing is certain: the “Triangle” is not a triangle at all, but an amorphous body of water in the proximity of the Sargasso Sea and West Indies.





A rough estimate of where major losses (marked by a triangle) may have occurred, based on last known position or course followed.