A Legend Draws Tears & A Captain Receives Prayers
As We Say Goodbye to the HMS Bounty
There’ll be no more killing aboard this ship, not even Captain Bligh – Fletcher Christian
There are legends in our world; historical moments, people, locations and tales that will forever be a part of our culture. These legends may be copied over and over and over again (by Hollywood mostly), but the original – the pure and utter truth – is the one that will remain the most exciting. In this case, we are saying goodbye to a legendary ship that stood for a very real – a very true – mutiny.
Although it was not the first, in 1962 a tale had women’s hearts a-fluttering in the theaters, when Marlon Brando played Fletcher Christian who was dealing with the evil Captain Bligh. Mutiny on the Bounty is still being played consistently on television, and has also been copied over and over again in order to allow other actors like Mel Gibson to be the one who made hearts go pitter-pat. But the very real story behind this film, is the story of a mutiny that occurred aboard the HMAV Bounty in 1789. Fletcher was real, William Bligh was real, and that tall, majestic and memorable ship was the scene of it all.
The real Bounty set sail from England for Tahiti and her only mission was to transport breadfruit to Jamaica; they thought it would grow well and be able to feed the slaves without spending a whole lot of money. First there was a pilferer aboard which led to a flogging. A great many members of the Bounty’s crew soon lost all respect for Bligh, when he made sure to let them know he was all about cruelty and the necessity of absolute efficiency…no matter what the cost to human life. His ambition was his undoing.
Attempting to sail around Cape Horn to save time, the mission took a hit, which sparked Bligh to push his crew unmercifully – as if they were slaves – and even cut their rations. The free-love and beauty of the Tahitian women came into play on their mission and the crew loved the calm, serene life they provided. Bligh continued to be mean and self-righteous, and he eventually found himself abandoned at sea by his second in command and his group of followers who had basically had enough. Christian did have a crisis of conscience and believed that he and his men should return to England in order to testify to Bligh’s wrongdoing, but the men wanted no part and set the Bounty on fire.
From the 1990s, Treasure Island, to The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, the copy of the HMS Bounty used in 1962, appeared in many different films. But now…Mother Nature has destroyed this classic piece of American history, when Hurricane Sandy buried the tall ship off the coast of North Carolina.
Last Thursday, the HMS Bounty had sailed from Connecticut with the one goal being to avoid the fatal punch of the massive hurricane. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The ship began taking on water and the crew was forced to abandon her. Although fourteen members were rescued, Claudene Christian – who was a descendant of the very real Fletcher Christian – was pronounced dead at the hospital. And although the real Bounty was sailed by Captain Bligh – it is a horrible fact that a very kind, amazing sailor by the name of Captain Robin Walbridge, who sailed the ‘copy’ of the HMS Bounty, is still missing.
This story may be about a Hollywood ship, and seamen who made names for themselves long ago, but Capt. Robin Walbridge is the commander that should be in our thoughts as the U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for him off the coast of North Carolina. Brandyn Hill, Petty Officer 1st Class, spoke this morning about the fact that the search continues, with two C-130 planes joining the mission later today.
The one upside is that Walbridge was wearing a survival suit, and is in warm waters. So there is still a great deal of hope that their Captain will be found.
This is a true Captain – a lover of the ocean who has been faced with many a storm in his lifetime. According to his wife, he is a ‘passionate, experienced captain,’ and his cool head and deep relationship with the sea may just have him prevail after all. And one certainly gets the feeling that the Captain’s crew loves him, which reminds one of Edward ‘Ned’ Young’s remark – a midshipman of the HMS Bounty in the movies – who said: “Fletcher, I’m proud to be with you.” Everyone was and remains proud to be a part of Captain Walbridge’s crew, and awaits his return with hope!
Our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to the Captain and his family, and we hope that his tale of being swept out to sea and his ultimate survival will come from his own mouth when he’s rescued. We want his tale to find its way into the theaters, as we sit by Walbridge’s side and say a final goodbye to that tall, mighty ship…the HMS Bounty.
Until Next Time, Everybody,
This Moment in History is Brought to you by: Be First Media Group