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HMS Bounty

Updated on October 4, 2014

The Bounty in her heyday

Bountiful Purpose

There is something about a tale of the ocean, especially when it involves a tall ship with full crew, that calls to me. Perhaps is it the mystery of the sea, imagining the great depths below, unknown creatures who may be lurking nearby, or the potentially marvelous force of the waves, that makes the sight of a sailing ship on the far horizon seem somehow brave, yet lonely, and perhaps doomed too. As a little girl, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World both excited and frightened me. I still have a similar feeling when I see a tall ship: yet I also feel quite a bit of respect. So many things can go wrong on a ship. It takes someone of great courage to join a crew; one of incredible knowledge and skill to sail; and one of even greater character to effectively lead one.

The 120 foot Square Rigger "Bounty" was built to stage a dramatic reenactment of her namesake's tale. Selfish men, along with those seeking adventure, and a crew of seasoned wayfarers made up the lot who set sail on the original HMS Bounty in 1789.

She was a merchant vessel: commissioned by the Royal Navy to pick up and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to Jamaica. While her journey set out to be a fairly uneventful one, unbeknownst to her crew, they were all about to become legend.

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Mutiny on the Bounty

The story goes, (and the story is true), that Captain Bligh and his crew of 42 were detained in Tahiti because the breadfruit plants were not mature enough to be cut for transport. In the months of waiting, some of the crew became attached to the natives of the island and adapted to their culture. Fletcher Christian, the HMS Bounty’s First Mate, even married one of the natives, as did some of the other crew. Dreading the long and arduous trip back to port, and not wanting to leave what they now thought of as “home”, Christian and 17 others of the Bounty’s crew staged a great mutiny, setting Captain Bligh and those loyal to him out on the Bounty’s launch, and into the open sea, with nothing but some food rations, a compass and a pocket watch.

To avoid any spoilers, I will stop telling the original Bounty’s story here. The full Mutiny story was told in a set of three Novels, and multiple times in film. It was the 1962 version of the film for which our ship the Bounty was built.

Bounty Crew
Bounty Crew

The Bounty Reborn

Built from the ground up by MGM studio for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty (starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard), the "Bounty" was larger than her "HMS Bounty" counterpart at 120 feet long. She first sailed to Tahiti for filming of the movie, and then embarked on a tour around the world to promote it. After Brando's insistence that she not be destroyed, the Bounty sailed to St Petersburg, Florida, where she remained berthed as a tourist attraction until the mid 1980s.

She starred again as the Hispaniola in Treasure Island with Charlton Heston in 1989, then became an educator until 2001, when she was restored and began to take on chartered guests for excursions and training in the nearly lost art of square rigging. She was also used along with other ships in the filming of two Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The Films - Tell the Mutiny on the Bounty Story

"Bounty" by Yasmina

"Bounty" by Yasmina
"Bounty" by Yasmina

The Original Trilogy - Novels tell the Detailed Story

Able Bodied Seamen

14 crew carried this title on board the HMS Bounty. An Able Bodied Seaman had to be able to "Hand, Reef, and Steer", which consisted of being able to loose, furl, and set sails; and reeve rigging. They were also expected to work on rigging and take watch duty. 9 of these men were Mutineers.

The Wrath of Sandy

Bounty Lost in Hurricane Sandy
Bounty Lost in Hurricane Sandy

The Bounty left from Boothbay Harbor, Maine after some dry dock maintenance, just before Hurricane Sandy ripped up the East Seaboard of the United States in late October, 2012. Although the crew tried to skirt around the huge storm, they caught her tailwind and went down off the coast of North Carolina on October 29th. Heroic efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard saved all but two of the crew, who had managed to abandon ship in lifeboats. Her Captain, Robin Walbridge and crew member Claudene Christian were lost at sea.

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

Captain Walbridge

After nearly four days of round-the-clock searching, the Coast Guard halted its hunt for Walbridge.

The last Captain of the Bounty is lost at sea.

More on Her History

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      srikanth545 5 years ago

      Great things.....