Is Bermuda Triangle connected to
Compass Variation?

 
 
Compass variation is often cited as a possible explanation for ships and planes disappearing in Bermuda Triangle. So what is compass variation? A compass always points to the magnetic North, while the absolute geographic north which is known as the North Pole is located at Greenland. And these two are not the same location. They are about 1,500 miles apart. 
 
 
 
If you think that following the 'N' sign of a compass, you can reach the absolute north (i.e. the north pole in Greenland), you can not. If you try to do that, you will actually end up reaching Prince of Wales Island in the Northwest Territories of Canada, which is about 1,500 miles away from the North Pole. 
 
 
 
The angular gap in degrees between the true north and the magnetic north is known as the compass variation. And this gap depends on one's physical position on earth. For example, from Azores the angular gap between the geographic (i.e. true) North pole and where the compass actually points is 20 degrees. Whereas from coast of Florida, there is hardly any gap. 
 
So what does Compass Variation got to do with Bermuda Triangle and the disappearances of ships and planes? Well, the US Coast guards came out with some strange observations and a theory for such disappearances around this compass variation. 
 
Here is an extract from what the US coast guard communicated: 
 
"The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area's unique environmental features. First, the 'Devil's Triangle' is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 20 degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble." 
 
The above statement is quite misleading. First, the compass always points to the magnetic North. It does so even within the Bermuda Triangle area and does not point anywhere else. However, it is true that if a ship moves along a specific narrow strip within Bermuda Triangle, the magnetic North and the absolute geographic North come into the same line. Which means the compass on this narrow strip will point to both magnetic as well as absolute North because both fall along the same line. 
 
 
 
Why does this happen? Imagine two dots on a piece of paper, join the two dots with a straight line and extend the line. From any point on the extension, the two dots will always be seen on the same line with no gap between them. The narrow strip on Bermuda triangle is similar to the extension of the line from where magnetic north and absolute north are seen on one line. The compass variation, which is the gap between absolute and magnetic north, will show as zero here. There is nothing strange about this. 
 
Second, as a matter of routine practice, every navigator adjusts the compass variation while creating the navigation charts. Otherwise, even with one degree difference, the ship or the plane can end up miles away from its target destination. 
 
So there was no reason to underestimate the navigators, who are supposed to consider the compass variation anyway as a matter of routine practice. And such practice prevails all over the world. So accidents or loss can happen all over the world and not just in Bermuda Triangle, if such compass adjustments are not made. 
 
Third, there were so many pilots and captains who were old hands and had a vast knowledge of Bermuda Triangle area because they crossed it frequently for years, yet some of them met with unfortunate disasters in the area. Compass or not, they knew the places by heart. Then, how did such cases of disappearances take place? 
 
Well when you analyze all these, the theory of compass variation to justify ships and planes getting lost in Bermuda triangle seems to be a weak one. Probably the US Coast Guards had to come out with some theory under tremendous pressures from the US Government and International community. They had to somehow justify or find some reasons behind the incidents. 
 
 
Raj is an avid traveler, a travel journalist and a blogger. As an author of this website, he shares deep insights on Bermuda and related areas of interest. Since years, he has been helping countless viewers by posting quality articles, answering questions and sharing experiences on this website. Launched in 2008, this website is Bermuda's one of the leading sources of information since many years. 
 
 
 
 

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