In 1498, John Cabot set sail on his third voyage to North America under the commission of King Henry VII of England – and disappeared mysteriously. Was he the first victim of the phenomenon that resides in the Bermuda Triangle?
The Bermuda Triangle is a region in the North Atlantic Ocean generally regarded as being between Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico, where numerous aircraft and ships are said to have vanished under mysterious circumstances.
Officially and according to the US Navy, the Triangle doesn’t exist. However, many people still believe that something just isn’t right in that part of the sea, and that all kinds of paranormal phenomena exist there. Theories range from reality fissures and temporal distortions to extraterrestrial activities and abductions.
The most famous Bermuda Triangle disappearances include the USS Cyclops and Flight 19. The Cyclops was a US Navy ship with a crew of 309 that disappeared without a trace in 1918, and Flight 19 was a training flight of torpedo bombers that vanished in 1945. To this day both disappearances – plus many others in the region – remain completely unexplained.
But stories about the Bermuda Triangle actually go back as far as Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who ‘discovered’ the New World. Columbus sailed through the Bermuda Triangle in 1492 and reported unusual events in the region. Erratic compass readings. Strange lights in the sky, “like a wax candle rising and falling in the distance”. The sea mysteriously rising in front of his ship, even though there was no wind. His expedition was stuck for several days in the Bermuda Triangle region, but they eventually made it through, surviving their encounter with… well, whatever the hell it was.
John Cabot was not so lucky…
The disappearance of John Cabot
Following Columbus’ successful voyages for the Spanish, Henry VII of England commissioned Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot to secure an English claim on the New World. Cabot’s successful expeditions have been credited as one of the reasons why English is the dominant language in North America.
However, Cabot’s third voyage was not as successful. In May of 1498, Cabot departed from Bristol with a fleet of five ships. One of the ships was caught in a storm and had to land in Ireland, but the other four carried on.
No record exists of what then happened to Cabot’s expedition. The fleet just disappeared over the Atlantic. His first two voyages are generally considered to have been through a more northerly part of the Atlantic than Columbus’s, which means he wouldn’t have passed through the Bermuda Triangle. But his third voyage is said to have followed a different route. There is speculation that Cabot either passed through the Triangle, or whatever paranormal forces exist there dragged Cabot’s fleet into the Triangle and engulfed it.
If so, Cabot would be the Bermuda Triangle’s first known victim.
A twist in the tale
Historian Alwyn Ruddock recently drew a different conclusion about John Cabot’s fate, allegedly finding evidence that Cabot’s third expedition was in fact a success. She argued that the expedition explored North America’s east coast for a period of two years, before returning to England in the spring of 1500. She believed that John Cabot died in London four months later.
However, Ruddock died in 2005 without publishing any of this evidence, and following her death, all of her research notes and materials were destroyed as per the instructions in her will. Why she would do this is a mystery in itself.
The ‘Cabot Project’ is investigating Ruddock’s claims in the hope of finding out what really happened to John Cabot. They claim to have located documents that place John Cabot in London in May 1500, but have not yet published any findings. This means, until something concrete comes to light, John Cabot remains on the list of history’s unexplained disappearances.
What do you think happened to John Cabot? Do you think he was swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle?
Next week: the mysterious unidentified witnesses of the JFK assassination
Bermuda Triangle.org – Christopher Columbus
Biography.com – John Cabot Biography