Vacation Getaway to Ocracoke Island
You want a beach vacation, but you don't want the crowds. You want seclusion, but you don't want to be totally alone. You want to be able to do nothing, but you want the option to keep busy. Sounds like you want a place like Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.
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In real life there is often a thin line between tragedy and mystery. Such are the circumstances surrounding the fate of Flight 19 recalled by the recent recovery of a World War II Navy torpedo bomber from the sea bottom near Key West.
Treasure salvor Mel Fisher and his crew found the corroded plane 16 years ago while searching for the Spanish galleon Atocha. Having, brought up several million dollars worth of gold and jewels from the ancient ship, Fisher lifted the more modern wreckage to view once more.
By tracing a serial number, the plane was identified as one of 24 that went down during training flights from the Key West Naval Air Station in 1945.
Until the identification, newspapers and television revived the "Bermuda Triangle" myth speculating that the old plane was one of five that disappeared "without trace" in December 1945 with 14 crewmen.
As a Yeoman aboard U.S.S. Eagle 27 at Key West and Fort Lauderdale in the closing months of WWII, I participated in the first of a series of flight tragedies of which Flight 19 was but a part. The true story is absorbing.
In July 1945, the Eagle 27 was attached to the Naval Air Station at Fort Lauderdale. Our mission was to deploy in the Gulf Stream while fledgling pilots attempted to target us with dummy torpedoes set to run deep, under our hull.
We replaced a sister Eagle which was sunk when an errant torpedo, accurately aimed, tore all the way through the unlucky ship. Perhaps it, too, will be recovered someday and fuel again the legend of evil forces lurking in the briny deep.
Our last mission was to assist in the search for a missing PBY "flying boat." The plane took off from the Miami Naval Air Station on a patrol flight and disappeared without word, taking 15 crewmen to their deaths. We recovered one body mangled by sharks.
Shortly thereafter the venerable Eagles were decommissioned, and I was honorably discharged. Before the year was over, Flight 19 hit the headlines. Newspapers, magazines and radio (no TV yet) kept the story pumped up for weeks. Eventually a legend of hype was established. I was doing a stint on the Detroit Free Press rewrite desk and followed the story closely.
Here are the facts, confirmed over the years by additional research.
Flight 19 consisted of five Grumman Avenger torpedo planes. Each was loaded with 18,250 pounds of fuel, enough for 1,000 miles of flight. All were equipped with two magnetic compasses, radio, identification signal transmitters (IFF) and electronic homing beams. All pre-flighted OK.
Three crewmen were assigned to each plane and each man wore a "Mae West" life jacket. Each plane also carried a rubber life raft in an outside storage compartment, and the raft inflated automatically upon contact with water. The flight leader was Lt. Charles C. Taylor, an experienced instructor recently transferred to the station.
Taylor at 1:15 requested to be relieved of the mission but gave no reason. His last-minute request was denied. One crewman also asked to be excused because of illness; and, in this case, was granted.
The flight took off on schedule at 2:10 p.m. in clear, bright weather. Their orders were to fly east 56 miles, simulate low-level bombing runs over Hens and Chickens Cay, continue on 67 miles, turn north 73 miles to Grand Bahama Island, then turn southwest 120 miles to home base. The whole exercise was estimated to take two hours.
The first contact with Flight 19 occurred at 3:40 p.m. when Lt. Robert F. Cox, another instructor flying that day, overheard Taylor talking to one of his students named Powers over the 4805 training-flight radio channel: "What does your compass read? I don't know where we are. We must have got lost after that last turn."
Cox cut in and asked if Taylor needed help. "Both my compasses are out and I am trying to find Fort Lauderdale, Florida," said Taylor. "I am over land, but it's broken. I'm 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."
Cox told Taylor to put the afternoon sun on port wing and if he was over the Keys he would quickly reach the southern tip of Florida. Cox said he would begin to fly south.
The leader of Flight 19 radioed back, "I know where I am now. I'm at 2,300 feet. Don't come after me." Nevertheless, Cox turned south to try and intercept the lost planes. Radio signals between the two men grew increasingly weaker, indicating they were growing farther apart instead of closer.
Birth Of Myth
The above transcript of conversation with Flight 19, taken from the official Board of Inquiry record, is here recounted because the sensationalists have invented wild accounts of Taylor's remarks. Alleged assertions of "the sun doesn't look right" "the ocean looks strange," everything is white" are inventions to invoke the mysterious power of the Bermuda Triangle.
It was apparent that Flight 19 was exactly where it should be, north of the Bahamas. Repeated efforts to get Taylor to turn west or to shift to the emergency radio channel instead of the now out-of-range training frequency were ignored. Taylor indicated he was fearful that if he switched he might lose contact with his other planes.
This was a fatal mistake that deprived him of accurate instructions. In his confusion he also failed to turn on his IFF signal which would have registered him on radar screens, and to turn on his automatic homing signal.
Despite all, shore-based radio operators managed to get a radio direction "fix" on Taylor's faint signal just before the planes ran out of gas about 8 p.m.
Two PBY flying boats, which had been standing by since 4 p.m., were dispatched on different courses to the fix at 29 degrees north and 79 degrees west.
The PBY "Mariner" did not radio a requested position one half hour after takeoff. Repeated attempts to raise the rescue craft were unavailing. That plane and its 13 crewmen also were missing! The next day a fishing trawler crew reported that they had seen the PBY explode and fall to the water.
The second rescue plan reached the fix area without mishap and began an expanded-square search procedure. It was joined shortly by many more planes and ships. A six-day search of the South Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico did not find life rafts, debris, bodies or oil slick. Nothing.
Weather at the fix point was found to be limited visibility, winds of 35 knots and "turbulent seas."
It was now clear what happened.
When Flight 19 turned north after its bombing run it ran into a typical Gulf Stream summer squall. Overcast skies obscured the sun, violent wind rocked the planes causing the compasses to rock to and fro. This is a condition well known to sailors and airmen. Surely Taylor had encountered the phenomenon so it is surprising that he panicked when he could not orient himself. He compounded his difficulty when he mistook the Bahama Cays for the Florida Keys.
Perhaps Taylor was experiencing some physical or mental problem that day that caused him to ask to be excused and which later clouded his judgment. Certainly he persisted in zigzagging northeast against instructions from shore personnel. Even two of his students were overheard imploring him to turn west. However, being disciplined officers, they followed their leader to the death of all.
Tragic, but not mysterious.
March 7, 1987
Lindsey Williams is a Sun columnist who can be contacted at:
Vacation Specials Travelzoo: Your source for Great Vacation Specials.
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Also featured in its entirety is Lin's groundbreaking book "Boldly Onward," that critically analyzes and develops theories about the original Spanish explorers of America.
Bermuda used to be a good privacy jurisdiction in years past. Today Bermuda has been chasing the tourism industry. Every day numerous cruise ships tie up in Bermuda. They have beach front hotels, gambling casinos, diving, fishing etc. The tourism industry employs more people and is more lucrative than the banking industry was so Bermuda gave in to international pressure and eliminated their secrecy and privacy to a very large extent.
Bermuda's has new tight anti-money laundering legislation that is called the Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act 2000, from 1 June, 2001, applies to all banking and financial institutions. With this Act in place, fiscal offenses (think tax related) are now consistent with international anti-money laundering standards and all forms of tax evasion are now a criminal offense in Bermuda. Not good for privacy and opens the door wide for fishing expeditions to get records to see if there has been some tax violation. The Anti-Terrorism Act enacted in December 2004 "makes it an offense to raise funds for terrorism, to use and possess money or other property for terrorism, and to be involved in any arrangements where money has been made available for terrorism." The problem is this law requires any business to report to the police any activity they deem to be suspect of terrorist involvement. Of course terrorist activity is broadly and loosely defined. Additionally, the courts have been empowered to call for account monitoring, of course without the knowledge of the account holder. The funds and property of suspected terrorists can also be seized and held for up to two years while the investigation proceeds and then forfeited permanently if the investigation results call for it.
Bermuda does not have anonymous bearer share corporations.
We do not advocate the use of Bermuda for anything since privacy and protection is now seriously lacking from this former privacy jurisdiction.
For more information on offshore jurisdictions go here: http://www.panamalaw.org/
Bermuda is not a Caribbean island and that is probably the most common misconception about the island. Located in the North Atlantic, the nearest land mass is North Carolina, some 570 miles distant. Actually comprised of 150 tiny islands of volcanic origin, collectively Bermuda encompasses only 21 square miles of land. The locals tend to regard the connected islands as one and refer to the largest, Bermuda Island, simply as "the island". Discovered by the Spanish captain Juan de Bermudez in the 1500s, Bermuda flourished as a colony of Great Britain after the arrival of English settlers in the early 1600s and those ties continue to the present. An internally self-governing British dependency with a parliamentary government, the official head of state is the British monarch. It is one of the smallest territories in the world (Monaco and Gibraltar are the only notable ones smaller in size).
This tiny tranquil island country is a study in contrasts. The inevitable first question everyone asks is about the beaches, "Is the sand really pink?" Yes, it is-and the water is crystal clear. Bermuda's palette is pastel… pink, coral, green and every shade of blue. The beaches, architecture and water surrounding Bermuda display a rainbow of soft color accented by white roofs and colorful flora. Those white roofs gleam and are spectacularly clean for good reason. Fresh water is scarce on Bermuda and rainwater is channeled into cisterns for later use.
Like no other island destination, Bermuda lulls her visitors with so much charm and reserve. British formality is the rule, with subtle African influences simmering just below the surface-most evident in the popularity of Gombey music and dance. Stubbornly conservative, afternoon tea is the order of the day and traditional British values predominate. Politeness and neatness in dress are highly appreciated by native Bermudans.
King Edward's armed forces were the first residents to modify their uniform trousers to acclimatize them for Bermuda's balmy weather-thus, the birth of "Bermuda" shorts. Hamilton businessmen can be seen scooting about on mopeds in full business attire of jacket and tie with Bermuda shorts and knee-high socks. They are de rigueur ashore but frowned upon in cruise ship dining rooms.
Bermudans make it look so easy to zip about on a scooter and, because cars are not available for rent, many tourists get their first taste of freewheeling in Bermuda. Avoiding "Road Rash" is paramount to seeing the sights on a moped. Pick up a copy of the local rules of the road from the Bermuda Road Safety Council when you rent one, fasten your helmet and drive on the LEFT. Always on the left.
While Bermuda has dozens of resorts, small hotels and cottages, a land vacation can be pricey when you consider that the average hotel charges about $10 per person for breakfast. The best way to enjoy a Bermuda holiday is by ship. Cruises depart weekly from Boston and New York City and less frequently from other ports such as Philadelphia and Baltimore. After spending a day and a half at sea, your ship will berth either in Hamilton, St. George, or King's Wharf (the Royal Naval Dockyard).
The most desirable itineraries are those that include the former two city ports because the Dockyard's location is isolated, although new facilities offer a few shopping diversions and pubs. After spending a couple nights in either Hamilton or St. George, your ship will move to the other port for the remainder of your Bermuda stay. Ships at the Dockyard generally don't reposition.
The Gulf Stream's warming effect insures a frost free, mild climate. Cruising "season" coincides with Bermuda's "high season"-April through October. A word of caution, this is also Atlantic "Hurricane Season" and your itinerary could be severely impacted if one blows your way. Sailing time to and from the US can range from mirror calm to rough and rocky, although the latter is uncommon.
Visitors are permitted to stay for up to 21 days (giving you 1 day to explore each square mile of the island). Extensions are only granted by the Bermuda Department of Immigration and are the exception rather than the rule.
Most expat workers tend to be from the UK, Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean and the US. There's a strong Italian contingent in the hospitality industry and growing numbers of Filipinos and Indians. Don't even think about coming to Bermuda as a tourist and trying to find work. Not only is it illegal, but is likely to be futile and will definitely be expensive. The last thing employers want to get is a bad name with the Department of Immigration. Any sensible employer won't even look at you.
If you want to get a job in Bermuda you must be off the island when you apply. All positions must be open to Bermudians first; only if there are no suitable applicants can a non-Bermudian be hired. Good places to look for potential employment are specialist recruitment agencies and the websites of local businesses. The Royal Gazette, Bermuda's daily newspaper carries a wide range of advertisements on their website. Presuming you are successful in your quest for a job, there are a number of issues to be considered when relocating. While the salaries paid are very good, the cost of living is quite high. Most contracts are for a maximum of five years, renewable at the employer's option. And becoming a permanent resident in next to impossible. Even if you marry a Bermudian, you won't be eligible for citizenship for ten years at the earliest.
Bermuda has the sound of a place nestled in the Caribbean with all the other fun-loving tropical islands, but in fact it exists in a realm of its own. You might be surprised to realize that it's actually located east of the States in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to North Carolina than to Florida. This doesn't mean it's cold and blustery, though; quite the opposite. Bermuda is a lush, lovely collection of islands that will satisfy your vacation cravings by transporting you to an unexpected and dreamlike atmosphere, far different than what you're used to.
The Gulf Stream lovingly warms Bermuda with gentle caresses, but the islands never become too hot to handle. Average summer temperatures float between 75 and 85 degrees, while winter is filled with pleasant 70 degree days. And, for hurricane-phobes, take note that while tropical storms do happen every few years, they are far less prevalent than in the Caribbean. That's just one more reason for heading off in a whole new direction.
Seventy five miles of coastline that surround rolling hills, interesting rock formations, and lots of space for replenishing one's energy supply characterize this sprawling archipelago. For some reason nature decided that this would be a good place to allow lava to cool and limestone to push up towards the sun, and what was born was a splendid sight to see. Not that it makes a big difference, but rather than being simply an island, Bermuda is a string of 181 distinct bodies of land. Some are larger islets and some are merely jutting rocks, but they combine to make a geologically unique and visually interesting vacation spot.
Explore the terrain while you're here, keeping your eyes open for the famous tree frogs that sing their songs and add a little extra color to the landscape. Endangered sea turtles and over 350 types of birds also make Bermuda their home, sometimes blending in, sometimes standing out, but always there if you take the time to look. Over the years, colonists and settlers have crafted a virtual paradise of plants and flowers, so in terms of natural wonders and beauty, there's plenty here to please your senses.
Of course, what's an island vacation without a thorough investigation of the beach scene? Bermuda is blessed with another extraordinary quality in the form of its coastal environment. You won't find regular-old sand here, instead it's something utterly pleasing, precious, and pink. Thanks to the coral reefs that surround the islands, the minute particles that go on to make up the sand have a decidedly rosy hue. Thus, the beaches are distinctively desirable and different, shifting your perceptions yet again. Just when you think you have this place figured out, it drops another surprise.
Most of the blushing beaches are public, welcome, and easily accessible. From South Shore Park to Horseshoe Bay, a coastal trail will lead you on your way as you traverse and enjoy the surroundings. If you stick around for a sunset, you'll be even more dazzled by the colorful splashes of brilliance everywhere you look, from land to sparkling sea.
Once you've gotten your bearings and realized the beauty of Bermuda, it'll be time to have a little fun. From fishing to parasailing, kayaking to sailing, the ocean will become your playground for as many hours a day as you please. On dry land, you'll be tempted to golf on a world-class course, zip around on a moped, go for a morning hike, schedule a spa session, learn to play cricket, and much more. After a few days of staying active yet relaxed, busy yet pampered, you'll realize that you've never felt better. A permanent move to Bermuda probably isn't in the cards, but don't despair. Take full advantage of this experience while you're here, and take notes so that your next trip can be even better.
Your first trip to Bermuda deserves all the trimmings, so instead of staying in a traditional hotel, think about the possibility of a vacation rental. A stone's throw away from the beach and all the activities of the town will provide convenience on a grand scale, and the plentiful amenities within the walls of your charming cottage, condo, or villa will complete the picture of perfection. From kitchen supplies to internet access, extra towels to a friendly lanai, all that you could ever imagine will be within reach should you decide to treat yourself to a lodging experience that matches the delights of Bermuda itself.
Go online to start researching Bermuda Vacation Rentals as well as the activities, sights and sounds that will fill your upcoming getaway, and prepare to discover a whole new range of relaxing and engaging opportunities.
CyberRentals.com is a comprehensive marketplace for vacation rentals of all shape and size.