Catching sight of these huge mats of seaweed have always marked the perimeter of this peculiar sea. Columbus himself made note of it. Thinking land was nearby, he fathomed the sea, only to find no bottom. The bottom is, in fact, miles below on the Nares Abyssal Plain.
The Sargasso Sea occupies that part of the Atlantic between 20o to 35o North Latitude and 30o to 70o West Longitude. It is in complete contrast to the ocean around it. Its currents are largely immobile yet surrounded by some of the strongest currents in the world: The Gulf Stream, Canary, North Atlantic Drift, Equatorial, Antilles, and Caribbean currents. These interlock to separate this sea from the rest of the tempestuous Atlantic, making its indigenous currents largely entropious. Therefore anything
But the legends of the Sargasso Sea and its surrounding swift currents are given more form by the rediscovery of Sigbees’ work. In 1881 the packet Ellen Austin supposedly found a derelict schooner north of the Sea and, placing a prize crew aboard, sailed in tandem for port. Two days later the schooner was sighted sailing erratically. When boarded again, the ship was once again deserted. There was no trace of the prize crew.
The bark James B. Chester was found deserted in the currents surrounding the eastern part of the Sargasso Sea (hundreds of miles southwest of the Azores) in 1855, with chairs kicked over and a stale meal on the mess table. I have not yet found proof of this old legend. It was supposedly sailed to the Albert Docks in Britain, but Lloyd’s of London has no record of it. Considering how many derelicts there were, there has no doubt been enormous error in listing this ship. Perhaps the captain’s name was James B. Chester. The year might be wrong. But it remains possible that what is spoken of this deserted ship is quite true. It seems unlikely that somebody could have made up its position to coincide with where many derelicts were found at sea, swept in the currents along the Sargasso Sea to end up south of the Azores. This was not common knowneldge on land, and in 1855 there is no proof yet that the pattern was highlighted even among nautical authorities.
Modern derelicts have, of course, followed the same pattern. They eventually end up following the north Atlantic Drift and end up southwest of the Azores before continuing . . .unless they are boarded and towed to port. In 1969 there were some 5 derelict boats reported, one still cruising under its own power. One of them was the Teignmouth Electron, the racing vessel of Donald Crowhurst. He apparently went barmy. His logbook noted conversations with God, and eventually he must have silently stepped into the sea and into oblivion.
Coupled with the predominance of derelict vessels was and is the unusual weather pattern of the Sargasso Sea. For centuries it was dreaded by the seafaring because of its deadly calms. Many times the Spanish found themselves becalmed for weeks, being then forced to jettison their war horses in order to conserve water. Hence the area known as the “Horse Latitudes” traverse the Sargasso Sea. Another name would be the “Doldrums.” The sargassum could even contribute to stalling a vessel during these long periods of weak winds. And today props on smaller boats can be fouled by the weed mats, causing them go dead in the middle of nowhere.
The “Sea of Lost Ships” has not been solved in modern times; it has only expanded to the skies above. And the mystery of missing aircraft seem even greater since neither calms nor sargassum can effect them. Nor can it affect the large freighters that can easily plow through the sargassum and steam through calms with little effort. Regardless, a number of large cargo vessels are completely unaccounted for after entering this sea.
When adding the reputation of the Sargasso Sea to that of the modern Bermuda Triangle, the enigma of this sea excites one with its tenacious and centuries old grasp on mystery. If the sargassum and the stagnant calms cannot effect modern travel and yet aircraft and ships disappear alike— and for the same reason— then the mystery is not one of the sea but of the planet itself, its shape, mass and the area’s juxtaposition on this very mysterious sphere we live on.
The Sargasso Sea must remain an enigma of this globe, for the forces that have created it have created a masterpiece of visible nonconformity, which may only be the tip of the iceberg for invisible disharmony in its elements. Currents alone cannot explain it. There are many seas in our great oceans which are interlocked by currents. Indeed, all currents are circuitous. There are the South Pacific and Mentor Currents that circle around and hold in the South Pacific, or there are the Brazil and Benguela Currents in the South Atlantic. Though they are thoroughly charted and frequently traveled besides, neither are particularly mysterious nor have they indigenous growth so thick and unaccounted for.
The Sargasso Sea calls to mind the greater mystery of shape and mass of our planet, with the resultant anomalies of wind and sea. Perhaps the missing in the Bermuda Triangle provide the same clue about the invisible force fields of our planet, for they are a disconformity with what we consider to be the laws of probability. It seems more than coincidental that the one place on earth where nature remains a mystery should also be a place where travel remains an equal mystery. The conundrum of missing ships and planes may be no greater than the very conundrum of the place in which they so utterly vanish.
The Sargasso Sea, like the Bermuda Triangle, received popular and often tabloid press. Paintings showed sailing vessels being devoured by the sargassum, and, at the turn of the century, readers were led to believe that freighters sat becalmed and weed shrouded with old sailing ships— even Roman triremes, for nothing ever changed in this stagnant sea.
From San Juan it is about 1,200 miles back up to Bermuda, closing off the triangle. You might think that the barren waters of the Triangle are just boring sea, vast, tempestuous, and seldom viewed by man, being a deep blue with whitecaps and foam.
Quite the contrary! The heart of the Bermuda Triangle is covered by the strangest and most notorious sea on the planet— the Sargasso Sea; so named because there is a kind of seaweed which lazily floats over its entire expanse called sargassum.
Most older maps delineate the location of the Sargasso Sea with seaweed. . The “Seaweed Sea” has a centuries old rep. for mysterious disappearances. Note also how the map implies the seaweed is coming out of the Gulf with the Gulf Stream currents, a passé theory: the sargassum is actually now believed to be adapted and native to this strange sea, with very little of its cousins coasting in from the surrounding currents. Map: National Geographic
that drifts into the Sargasso Sea is likely to stay there amidst its expansive weed mats of sargassum. The Sargasso Sea rotates slightly itself and even changes position as its surrounding currents change with weather and temperature patterns during different seasons.
Scientists have discarded their first thought that the strong Gulf Stream carried and deposited shoreline seaweed into this large sea. Recent investigations have concluded that the sargassum is actually adapted and has reproduced to become native to the area, a strange forest of seaweed growing hundreds of miles from any land.
Legends of a “sea of lost ships” predates the Bermuda Triangle by centuries and was, in many ways, strikingly
A trail of sargassum
similar to the mythos of the modern Bermuda Triangle. Derelict vessels were found here more often, shipshape but deserted. On one occasion a slaver was sighted with nothing but skeletons aboard.
It used to be believed that the legends of the Sargasso Sea inspired those of the Bermuda Triangle. however, today we know it is the opposite. Although the moniker Bermuda Triangle was not around back in the 19th century, a 7 year study by the hydrographic Office of the United States, revealed that most of teh derelicts found in the north Atlantic were actually aqbandoned in the Bermuda Triangle, first sighted around there and then drifted around the sargasso Sea in its powerful currents. Some ended up in its peaceful solitudes, others continued to drift until pulled under the tumultuous Atlantic.
In 1894 the study was published as Wrecks and Derelicts of the North Atlantic 1887 through 1893 Inclusive, written and compiled by Commander S.D. Sigsbee of the US Navy. In it Commander Sigsbee recorded some 1,628 derelicts over his 7 year study. He noted that most were first found west of 60 degrees longitude and above 35 degrees latitude. The map here is based on Sigsbee’s report and contains only about 100 of those charted 1,628 derelicts he charted!
A large number of these derelicts can no doubt be explained. But nevertheless the conundrum remains that it is here and no where else in the huge well-traveled Atlantic where crews lost their heads and abandoned perfectly sound ships. This number includes 160 or so American ships, 134 British, but is also includes 95 Norwegian, etc.
Some vessels remained afloat for years, making one of more complete circumphrances of the Sargasso Sea. The Fannie E. Wolston is one such ship. She held the record by the publishing of Sigbees’ work. she had drifted 7,025 miles and was still drifting. She had been floating around the Sargasso Sea’s currents for over 5 years! Sigsbee estimated from sighting reports that 19 derelicts were afloat on the north Atlantic in any given month.
Those that were abandoned in the Sargasso Sea no doubt remained for years, drifting with the rust colored sargassum, their sails vapid and shredded, lines hanging from their sides, death aboard of just a ghostly derelict. Considering the number of vessels reported and re-reported for those 7 years (some vessel’s paths were closely charted. some derelicts were reported by sometimes 32 ships at different intervals), there literally must have been thousands in the 19th century alone.
as far as crews knew, the drifters were ghost ships, cursed derelicts and mysteries of the sea. The fact the Fannie Wolston remained afloat for so long and reported by over 30 ships shows how the crews steered clear of her. She earned the reputation as a damned ship and none would tow her to port. Yet she is only one of thousands. Even if only 1 percent of these derelicts in the 19th century alone were unexplained, we deal with a large number of mysteries hitherto unknown. There is no wonder that the Sargasso Sea earned its reputation as a “Port of Missing Ships.” The legend, in this case, is firmly based in fact.
It wouldn’t be until the 20th century, however, that the epicenter of the Atlantic’s mystery would be isolated. The disappearance of huge ships and then swift aircraft drew our attention to those same coordinates that Sigsbee noted for derelicts in the 19th century. From this would be born the Bermuda Triangle. And like the legends of the Sargasso Sea the Triangle would ebb and tide until yours truly did what Sigsbee did and delved into the actual documentation. The facts of more disaappearances in this area
removes it from the world of myth and brings it back into the world of mysteries.
There are a number of pages on this website that detail my journey of investigation. It is not important to note that here. But it is important to note that the Bermuda Triangle and Sargasso Sea are not paranormal places. There are those with occult religions who so chose to consider them that. I do not mock nor judge them. That is simply not my view or approach. I have documented enormous tonnages of missing ships and aircraft, and even uncovered very unusual circumstances. this is a very tangible mystery, tied to thousands of missing people who did not die in vain if we only accept their utter and sudden disappearances actual reveal greater forces yet undiscovered in our planet.
All contents Copyright © 1999-2013 by Gian J. Quasar. No part may be reproduced, except for brief quotations, without expressed written permission from the author or editor. Any conclusions expressed are entirely those of the author unless noted, and do not imply endorsement from any bureau of investigation or government agency.