Thursday, 15 October 2009

Bermuda, "Isle of Devils"

Bermuda, known officially as the Bermuda Islands or Sommers Islands is a British Territory located approximately 65miles off the coast of the United States.

Being settled in 1612 , it's capital , Hamilton, is most populous and oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas Although usually referred to in the singular, the territory consists of approximately 138 islands, with a total area of 20.6 sq mi. The largest island, Main Island, is sometimes itself called Bermuda. Compiling a list of the islands is often complicated, as many have more than one name.

With finance being it's largest sector, Bermuda has a very affluent economy, tourism is the second largest industry on the islands..

Discovered in 1503 by Juan de Bermudez, it became a stopping off place to replenish ships with water and meat. Because of legends concerning spirits and demons, it soon gained the name "Isle of Devils" The many stories of ships and airplanes disappearing in confines of the Bermuda Triangle soon fed more fuel to the fire. To this day a certain mystic surrounds the whole area of Bermuda as well as many miles to the south.

Judging from first hand exerience, the seas can be treacherous. While on a 7 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda and Nassau, we experienced 20 foot seas for 30 hours,all while the weather was perfectly sunny and beautiful. I can appreciate how ships from an earlier era would not survive.

Surviving the high seas, landfall was made at the Royal Navy Pier around 4 pm on Sunday. Upon walking ashore, it was soon discovered that despite that fact a large cruise ship had just docked, all the stores were closed and wouldn't open until the following morning. It was nice to see there is still somewhere on this planet where the observance of Sunday and traditional values out weight the power of the almighty dollar.

Spending an enjoyable evening rambling around the Royal Navy Pier and discovering the many unique features thereof, it was time to retire and await the next day's adventures.

One of the nice things about Bermuda is the inexpensive transportation, a full day's fare on all the available forms of transportation, everything from water taxis to buses can be had for a paltry $6.

Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda is a modern, clean upbeat city, with all the amenities and shopping found in any American city, combine this with the British formality and one has a recipe for an enjoyable experience.

Our excursion to St. George's was delightful with the driver filling us in on all the history and unique features of the island.

Following a sea side lunch and a walking tour of the town of St. Georges, it was back on the bus for the returning ride to our floating hotel.

Gary has traveled to many parts of the world, see more articles and photos at:

Gary has developed a line of novelty gifts featuring some of his photos taken around the world.

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The Lost Squadron - Flight 19

On December 5, 1945, five Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers left Ft Lauderdale Florida on a training mission. They were to fly to several points in the Atlantic and return to the base in Florida, covering a distance of 320 miles. Radio conversations between the pilots were detectable by base and other aircraft in the area. It was known that the practice bombing operation was completed successfully.

The first sign of trouble came with the transmission, "I don't know where we are. We must have got lost after that last turn." The transmission was heard by another flight instructor, Lieutenant Robert F. Fox in FT-74, who tried to help the lost flight regain their bearings. Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor, the flight leader of the lost squadron, transmitted, "Both of my compasses are out and I am trying to find Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I am over land but it's broken. I am sure I'm in the Keys but I don't know how far down and I don't know how to get to Fort Lauderdale." Lt. Fox then advised them to put the sun on his port wing and fly north up the coast to Fort Lauderdale.

Several transmissions were passed back and forth between the flight leader and the other four bombers. They headed one way, and then the next, trying to find anything familiar, any place to land. The last transmission heard from Lt. Taylor was "All planes close up tight . . .we'll have to ditch unless landfall . . .when the first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together." It soon became apparent that Lt. Taylor, for some unknown reason, turned his command over to another pilot who anxiously transmits: "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 . . ." For a few moments the pilot rambles incoherently before saying the last words ever heard from Flight 19: "It looks like we are entering white water . . .We're completely lost." The 5 Naval bombers were never seen again.

Minutes after the last transmission, a Mariner flying boat with rescue equipment is sent towards the area of Flight 19's transmission. Ten minutes after take-off, the pilot of the Mariner checks in with the tower and is never heard from again. The Coast Guard, Navy ships and aircraft search 250,000 square miles for the next 5 days, hoping to find some sign of the 5 Avengers or the Mariner, but saw neither oil slick nor wreckage.

In 1990, wreckage of an Avenger was raised from the ocean floor, but could not be positively identified as one of the missing planes.

A curious footnote to this story is that one of the planes of Flight 19 was missing a crew member. Marine Corporal Allan Kosner was given special permission to stay on land that day because he had an unshakeable preminition of danger.

Looking for more amazing history? Check out my squidoo!

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Difficult rescue missions in the Bermuda Triangle - BBC

Difficult rescue missions in the Bermuda Triangle - BBC

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