Page by Gary Rodriguez
Featuring other shipwrecks and disasters of the past and present.
The disappearance of the sailing ship FANTOME on October 27, 1998.
Donít believe a hurricane. Theyíll lie to you every time.
The Fantome, a four masted schooner, that cruised the lower Caribbean, trusted in the direction Hurricane Mitch was supposed to take on Monday, October 26, 1998. Mitch was predicted to head northwest towards the Yucatan Peninsula.
That Monday the captain, Guyan March, decided to drop his passengers in Belize City (88.02 W, 17.48 N), take a crew of 31 and try to run south under the hurricane in order to save the Fantome. The captain was doing the right thing until Hurricane Mitch decided to make liars out of forecasters. On the 27th Mitch turned south and was now heading for the fleeing schooner which was doing a snailís paced 9 knots.
Off the coast of Honduras is the island of Roatan (86.54 W, 16.34 N). There the 282-ft. schooner hoped to find shelter on itís lee side. The lying hurricane tempted the Fantome right into its path. Its eye wall down from 178 mph winds to only 100mph, Mitch seemed less dangerous, but the steel hulled ship was not designed to even take the stress of what was now a Category 2 storm.
The only thing left to do now to save their lives was set sail to the east and away from the hurricane. But they couldnít out run it. The last radio contact that anyone had with the Fantome was 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. What happened to the fleeing ship? Several days later some debris was found: part of a staircase and a life raft.
When the schooner and Mitch finally came to their tragic meeting, the crew was probably down below as anyone on deck would have been swept overboard. When they looked outside, there was nothing to see but white everywhere. the sea and the sky becomes one. Then there was the violent pitching of the vessel as it peaked 50 foot waves and plunged into the troughs. Rolling violently, it came close to capsizing. And perhaps it met its end that way. Or it could have been suspended between two monster waves with nothing to support it in the middle and then broke in two just as the Titanic when itís stern went vertical causing the steel hulled ship to break apart.
Between the Cape of Honduras and the island of Guanaja (85.91 W, 16.29 N) The Fantome went down like a rock or like the huge piece of steel that it was. So far neither survivors nor bodies have been recovered.
The Caribbean Sea can get like a sheet of glass with puffy white clouds ambling overhead giving all who sail on it a sense of relaxation and carefreeness which Americans pay thousands of dollars to enjoy. But every summer the hurricanes drift across the Atlantic out of Africa and they come to tell their lies which are believed by even the most expert of forecasters.
A hurricane will lie even to God.
Spanish galleon of the type, ATOCHA.
In 1652 the ATOCHA sailed the ocean. On the journey to Spain it sunk.
350 years later Mel Fisher and his wife moved to the Florida key to find the "mother load" of treasure from the Atocha. 7 years after he decided to find it, he found a piece of spanish gold. His son Dirk and Dirk's wife Angel went diving too. Dirk found six copper cannons and brought them to his father. Then tragedy strikes! Dirk,his wife Angel, and a crew member drown from a leak in the boat. They decide to dedicate the rest of the mission to those three young lives. Then as Mel's younger son Kane gets older he starts to dive for treasure. Kane discovers a trail at the bottom of the ocean. They call it Kane's trail. 17 years later they find what they think would have been the sister ship of the Atocha, the Mareal. They find precious emeralds and gold bars. After 21 years, they finally find the "mother load" of the Atocha.
On the 10th of November 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald, once the Great Lakes largest iron ore carrier, disappeared without a trace. There were no desperate radio calls from her crew for help or signal flares launched. Minutes before she disappeared, the Captain of the Fitzgerald radioed to another ship that they were "holding their own" through the storm that was raging around them. That was the last communication ever heard from the Edmund Fitzgerald. All 29 of her crew members sank into Lake Superior with her.>