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"I'll be your pararescue jumper today"
October 29, 2012 1:54 PM   Subscribe

HMS Bounty has foundered off the coast of North Carolina in Hurricane Sandy. Fourteen crew members have been rescued by the US Coast Guard, while two others, including Captain Robin Walridge remain missing at sea.

Bounty, a replica of Captain Bligh's ship, was built in Nova Scotia for the Marlon Brando remake of Mutiny on the Bounty and also appeared in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. It has been touring the Eastern Seaboard in recent years, offering port visits and sail passages.

Dramatic Video of the USCG rescue.

HMS Bounty Facebook page, for updated information and discussion.

Bounty's recent track.
posted by stargell (108 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by leotrotsky at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2012


Hats off to the ever heroic coastguard.
posted by edd at 2:00 PM on October 29, 2012 [31 favorites]


Alas, I get a 403 Forbidden/Permission Denied on that tallshipbounty page and http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com says it is down.
posted by bz at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2012


Why were they out there in the first place?
posted by dobbs at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Links were working up until the post.
posted by stargell at 2:05 PM on October 29, 2012


Yeah, their web server probably couldn't handle the traffic.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:08 PM on October 29, 2012


I want to cheer for the Coasties here, but I imagine with two guys still missing they aren't cheering at all. :/

Wanted to be an Aviation Survival Technician when I was in, but back in the mid-'90s you basically had to be looking at your second enlistment before you even got to go to the school for it. Apparently things move a little faster for folks who want in on that job these days.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:11 PM on October 29, 2012


Why were they out there in the first place?

They were moving the boat to Florida, probably to avoid Sandy. Just crappy timing I guess.

.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:12 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why were they out there in the first place?
The Bounty departed New London, Connecticut, for St. Petersburg, Florida, on October 25, according to the ship's Facebook page.

Facebook postings bearing that date say things such as "I'm sure that Hurricane Sandy will be a major consideration when Bounty leaves for St. Petersburg later today," and "Bounty will be sailing East out to sea before heading South to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy."

...

While following the ship's Facebook timeline, you can read a mixture of trepidation and attempts at soothing fears.

On Saturday, this post appeared: "Bounty's current voyage is a calculated decision... NOT AT ALL... irresponsible or with a lack of foresight as some have suggested. The fact of the matter is... A SHIP IS SAFER AT SEA THAN IN PORT!"*
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM on October 29, 2012


The book The Perfect Storm goes into great detail about the dangers of parajumper rescue.

I visited the ship several times when it was docked in St. Petersburg for many years.

The timing relates to annual maintenance, I gather, done at its shipyard in Maine (where a $3M refurbishment took place last decade), and it was on its way to winter over in Florida.
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2012


The fact of the matter is... A SHIP IS SAFER AT SEA THAN IN PORT!"

The ship, sure.
The people on board? Not so much....
posted by Floydd at 2:16 PM on October 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Why were they out there in the first place?

According to the article, they lost power for their pumps in rough seas and were taking on 2 foot of water an hour, which is bad, but it's not that tiny boat/big wave picture from "A Perfect Storm". They were trying to skirt the hurricane and had a bad break.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is a sailor on a different tall ship (a job she happened to fall into after graduating with a degree in English from our college in Iowa). The east coast tallship community is pretty tight-knit from what I can tell, and the crew on the Bounty were friends of friends, so she's pretty bummed. (Her ship is tied down as much as possible in port at Baltimore and she's bunkered down, thankfully).

Hope everyone who has to be working on the sea for whatever reason stays safe during the storm.
posted by dismas at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2012


These two victims of Hurricane Sandy will probably garner a lot more attention than the (current count of) 69 who she claimed earlier.
posted by spock at 2:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The east coast tallship community is pretty tight-knit from what I can tell, and the crew on the Bounty were friends of friends, so she's pretty bummed.

Very true. This is big local news here. I also have friends who are friends with Bounty crew (including the captain).

This was more bad luck than bad planning. It's very typical to take larger vessels out of port into deeper water when storms come through. Deeper water offsets the waves somewhat, and it gives the ship a lot more room to maneuver. Like it was mentioned above, they were trying to get around the storm and had hardware failure.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:30 PM on October 29, 2012


The Bounty was also one of the stars of Pirates, which won the Best Feature for 2005 from AVN and was the most talked-about porno in the past umpteen years. (I read a lot.)

I hope she, her Captain, and the two unnamed crew are saved.
posted by gingerest at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I volunteered on Bounty while she was docked in Charleston for a while, and my ex-wife did the trip from St. Petersburg back to Charleston with them. Robin was the Captain then as well. The ship was always a bit scruffy (as you'd expect from an under-crewed wooden ship), but the standing crew seemed very competent to me. I'll never forget climbing to the top of the mainmast.

The loss of the ship is bad enough. The loss of 2 crewmembers including the Captain is truly saddening.

(One of my jobs - caulking the seams of the hull planking with tow, tar, and then reinstalling the copper. Apparently, it was never what you'd call a dry ship.)
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a certain tragic coincidence in play, that a replica of a tall ship sinks in a location famous as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, in part due to the hundreds of similar ships of the era sinking there.
posted by Atreides at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The tallship site is up right now and reporting that "Bounty is currently still floating upright and intact."
posted by Twang at 3:01 PM on October 29, 2012


The east coast tallship community is pretty tight-knit from what I can tell, and the crew on the Bounty were friends of friends, so she's pretty bummed.

Yes, there is a lot interchange amongst crew from the different ships, so people often get to know lots of other people in the tall ship community as you work seasonally together, switch boats, and move on.

One thing is sure, as it begins to be clearer what happened and how the chain of events and decisions led to this tragic outcome, there will be much talk of this loss now and long into the future. Hopefully any lessons learned will become part of constantly-referred-to lore that helps other tall ships stay safer; that's the only positive legacy.
posted by Miko at 3:03 PM on October 29, 2012


Atreides, I completely agree. I came here to post a comment echoing same.

I started visiting the Nags Head area in 1960, and wrecks on the beach and in the water were quite common. There was a beach house in Old Nags Head festooned with the nameplates of sunken sailing ships.

Wrecks were a way of life. One local legend--now rarely repeated--held that long ago, old horses ("nags") were walked up and down the beach in stormy weather with lanterns around their necks to mimic a bobbing buoy; allegedly this would lure ships close to land where they would ground and be picked clean by local looters. Just a legend, mind.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Twang, that's the same message as from this morning.

This, however, is new news: one missing member of crew found unconscious. Claudene Christian was rescued after 9-10 hours in the water (in a rescue suit).
posted by dhartung at 3:12 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The rescue people -- in the water, in the helicopter, flying the helicopter -- these are just spectacular people. I'm betting that this is to them just another day in the wind, ho hum, but what these human beings do is something else; I watched that video shaking my head.

But I'm stunned by so much of what is today taken for granted -- heart surgeons performing their miracles, these amazing doctors who can work microsurgery on babies, these outstanding human beings who run into burning buildings to help others. I marvel.

I so often get frustrated, sometimes I feel so hopeless, thinking of drones and smart bombs and war war war, how much human energy is put into that. It's easy -- for me -- to see too much of that and too little of the various greatnesses of humans. These people are great.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:16 PM on October 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


That is remarkable about Christian.

I worked on Niagara for a short stint, and while there we helped provide crew to get them through their Coast Guard drills. Those are stringent drills. One of them was an immersion suit drill, where at the sound of the alarm you retrieve your suit, roll it out, climb into it, put on the mitts and have someone zip you up, velcro your face up, and hang out in it until the all clear. We all hated it, because (especially on a warm May day) the last thing you want to do is zip yourself into a stiff, thick, uncomfortable Neoprene wrapping for your entire body and spend any time there.

But they are indeed miraculous. I mean, 10 hours is amazing. I doubt she'd have been found alive without that suit.
posted by Miko at 3:24 PM on October 29, 2012


Oh dear. In the time it took me to write that comment the headline changed to "confirmed dead."

.
posted by Miko at 3:25 PM on October 29, 2012


The rescue guys are saints. It's not just the wind and rain, either. During a rescue, the helicopter is operating in that vertical danger zone where, if anything goes wrong, they're going in the drink, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:27 PM on October 29, 2012


And now dhartung's link has Claudene Christian having been pronounced dead.

The official site for the ship, meanwhile, is claiming every member of the crew is accounted for. Wha...?
posted by fifthrider at 3:27 PM on October 29, 2012



I didn't see the swimmer check their insurance cards before saving them. Don't want to encourage people to rely on the government.

Snark aside, I love watching professionals do their thing. This was a by the book rescue and something to behold.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:27 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The tall ship community - not just on the east coast - is very tight-knit. A friend of mine sailed on the Lady Washington for a year, and she's been keeping up with the news about this.

There's a lot of sorrow out there now.
posted by mephron at 3:28 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm going to copy and paste the top rated comment from the reddit /r/sailing thread for the Bounty, because it seems relevant:

http://www.reddit.com/r/sailing/comments/129nhi/hms_bounty_in_distress_160_miles_from_hurricane/

I think it is important to stop the "Ships are safest at Sea" cannards here.

First: It is indeed true that very large ships often put to sea when bad storms are forecast. For example, much of the US Navy fleet in Norfolk left to avoid the storm. But their strategy is generally to avoid the weather through their speed and range.

Second: What is true for very large ships is not for small wooden sailing replicas like the Bounty. She left from New London, CT bound for Florida with a large crew (16). There are plenty of places up river in New London where she very easily could have rode out the storm. I would strongly suspect the intent was to maintain a schedule. Likewise, if you are going to sea to avoid a storm, you do so with a skeleton crew -- you don't put 16 lives in danger. Again, I strongly suspect the intent here was to maintain schedule, rather than a concern that the ship could not have been safe in New London.

Third: the ship was in one of the most dangerous places -- off Hateras -- when she was lost.

The stunning arrogance, disregard for life, and negligence of the Bounty's master is shocking. Current reports indicate two individuals are missing while 14 have been rescued. A large number of lives have been risked here -- crew and Coast Guard. I strongly suspect this may be treated as criminal negligence.

posted by thewalrus at 3:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of places up river in New London where she very easily could have rode out the storm

I wonder if this person really knows New London. The river is a tidal estuary and full of shoals. Immediately beyond NL it's very shallow. Also, the only sizeable docks upriver from the city and state piers in New London are at the Coast Guard academy and I'm guessing there's no footage left over because they may be sheltering their own vessels.

We should really let the reports come in - and there will be a full investigation - before taking the master to task. It looks bad but we don't know enough to lay any charges just yet.
posted by Miko at 3:36 PM on October 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


During a rescue, the helicopter is operating in that vertical danger zone


Altitude!

Altitude!

Altitude!

posted by CynicalKnight at 3:37 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm having trouble parsing this as anything but the captain being dumbass. "If nothing goes wrong, we may make it!" is not the way you plan a voyage for an old wooden ship. The possibility of engines breaking down has to be considered as part of the scope.
posted by tavella at 3:37 PM on October 29, 2012


The sea is so big and my boat is so small... Hats off to the coasties as usual.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:39 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


> they lost power for their pumps

And (NPR radio interview with someone) this, being a movie replica, didn't have hand-operated pumps as were used on the original Bounty. Once they took it off the movie set and out to actual use at sea, I wonder if anyone suggested adding pumps in case they lost their electrical system.
posted by hank at 3:53 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm poking around for anyone who might have known what captain/crew were thinking. There are a lot of tall ships mailings lists/message boards but this list is old and half the links are dead. So far haven't looked at too many.

Bounty's own website has a message board.
Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:59 am
Traci,
It looks as though the Bounty has turned and is facing into the storm...
could you kindly explain the rationale of this?
Thanks.
Ziora

Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:31 am
This is a sad day. The storm hit the ship pretty bad. One of the generators failed and the ship was taking on more water than it wanted. Distress call was sent out and the coastguard rescued ALL 17 crew. We are very thankful for that. Bounty was left at sea to fend for herself with the prayers of many. May God protect the ship from sinking!

DON'T GIVE UP! kEEP THE PRAYERS COMING. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.

We will let you know how things are progressing with the ship. Thank you for your prayers.

To our wonderful Captain Robin: You did a great job and the very best that you could. Thank you for your efforts and keeping the crew safe. God bless you sir.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:44 pm
The crew member Ms. Christian has been found. Only one person not accounted for, Captain Robin Walbridge. Please keep him in your prayers. We are thankful for the rest of the crew being safe and sound. This is a very sad time for the Bounty Organization, friends, family and the world. We will keep you updated as to the Captain and the ship. God bless them all.

You can google the many articles and also you tube the rescue of most of the crew by the USCG.
posted by Miko at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2012


I wonder if this person really knows New London. The river is a tidal estuary and full of shoals. Immediately beyond NL it's very shallow. Also, the only sizeable docks upriver from the city and state piers in New London are at the Coast Guard academy and I'm guessing there's no footage left over because they may be sheltering their own vessles.

As long as it's upriver in a protected cove, a strong anchor (or anchors) with plenty of rode would probably be sufficient to hold a vessel of that size and would likely be much easier on the vessel than tying it up to a pier.

There's also a very long tradition of protecting a vessel by running it aground in soft mud as far up the tidal estuary as possible and worrying about how to free it after the storm.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:00 PM on October 29, 2012


Hurricane now a Superstorm
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:02 PM on October 29, 2012


@ClaudeneC twitter account is heartbreaking. Based on her tweets, she loved being a crewmember aboard HMS Bounty:
ClaudeneC: (23 June 2012) I am in LOVE with my ship... BOUNTY pic.twitter.com/oZgKSrqI
Frustratingly, her personal website [warning: malware] www.claudenechristian.com appears to be infected with malware so needs a proper WordPress security cleanup.
posted by artlung at 4:03 PM on October 29, 2012


Walbridge is not an inexperienced captain. He came late to square rig, but he's worked for some well respected organizations - though I can't claim to know his reputation as a captain. I will hear some scuttlebutt later on from a couple friends. It's tragic; ultimately it's always, always the captain's responsibility, but this isn't a simple case of "dumbass," though it might be a case of poor decisions or a complex set of interactions that just didn't go the crew's way.
Robin admits to sailing on the best and with the best when it comes to sail training education for youth...Captain for Vision Quest and the Bill of Rights. ...In 1993, he worked on Boy Scout programs on the Heritage of Miami. He developed sail training programs to take scouts on one-week voyages in the Florida Keys, including programs for children with disabilities. In his off-seasons, from 1993 000, he was on-call as mate or engineer for Sea Education Association's (SEA) two vessels, Westwood[actually Westward, since sold and renamed] and Corwith Cramer [I sailed on her for a week]. Robin also spent some time on the 198' U.S. Brig Niagara of Erie, Pennsylvania, which only enhanced his fascination for square-rigged sailing.

Robin moved on to HMS Rose in 1993 as First and Second mate and went on to obtain his 500-ton Captain's license.... In 1995, he obtained his 1600-ton license.

Enter HMS Bounty in 1995. It was a labor of love from the beginning, and Robin has never looked back. Keeping her afloat has been a full-time occupation for many years. If it weren't for Robin's efforts, the ship would have sunk at the dock in Fall River, Massachusetts. ...

The highlight of his career, however, is the two years and over 15 voyages spent training the crew of "Old Ironsides," the U.S.S. Constitution. He was at the helm as guest Captain/Advisor for the ship's inaugural sail in 1997 after 116 years of being dormant, a moment he remembers as "awe-inspiring," as many in his position would.
When I worked at Mystic Seaport I went aboard a vessel that was in tragic disrepair. I couldn't recall if it was the Rose or the Bounty, but I think now based on other comments by people who saw her earlier that it was the Bounty, and it was really in rough shape. That, I suppose, was before the Fall River refit. Even so one wonders how thorough the repairs were, as it's so hard to raise the kind of money and do the kind of work you need to fully overhaul.
posted by Miko at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's also a very long tradition of protecting a vessel by running it aground in soft mud as far up the tidal estuary as possible and worrying about how to free it after the storm.

I really can't imagine a tall ships captain doing that. The risks are significant; when tide receives you will have listing and everything will shift. Gravity will work against you, pulling on the spars. Not to mention the great potential for hull damage - unequal stress parting planks, causing leakage, and contributing to the keel hogging.
posted by Miko at 4:12 PM on October 29, 2012


A little more context on the "ships are safer at sea in a hurricane" adage, courtesy Max Hardberger, of Freighter Captain fame.
posted by lantius at 4:15 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This story from the Washington Post gives the first sort of approach at a blow-by-blow that I've seen. Note that the idea was not to "ride out" the storm (meaning endure the storm's effects while in the middle of it) but to sail far enough East so as to avoid it completely. With generators and engines failing that plan became impossible to follow.
posted by Miko at 4:22 PM on October 29, 2012


Once they took it off the movie set and out to actual use at sea, I wonder if anyone suggested adding pumps in case they lost their electrical system.

The ship was refitted, as I noted, at a cost of $3M and has sailed the world throughout the last decade (although it isn't clear whether it ever made it to the South Pacific as once planned). I would assume the professional shipyard and crew had what they needed -- diesel engines, batteries, etc. -- to maintain commercial operations both as a cruising tall ship and an occasional movie prop. Even the most modern ships are known to founder in storms. Let's wait for more information before casting around for recrimination.
posted by dhartung at 4:25 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really can't imagine a tall ships captain doing that. The risks are significant; when tide receives you will have listing and everything will shift. Gravity will work against you, pulling on the spars. Not to mention the great potential for hull damage - unequal stress parting planks, causing leakage, and contributing to the keel hogging.

It's certainly not the best option, but estuary mud is soft enough to form a nice protective cradle to support a hull. In addition, you wouldn't be beaching the vessel, but rather you'd be looking for a place that's just deep enough for the vessel to be floated in at high tide so that it could be gently settled into the mud as the tide receded, with enough water remaining at low tide to still provide some additional support.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:28 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never been aboard the Bounty, but I've seen her in port. She's a beautiful ship. My heart breaks for Christian and her family, and I'm holding out hope for the safety of Captain Walbridge. And right now is far, far too early to start assigning blame.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:30 PM on October 29, 2012


Sad news indeed. I visited the Bounty in July 2002, during its major retrofit in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and interviewed Captain Walbridge on board (and driving around town in his pickup truck) for my article that appeared in the December 2002 issue of American History magazine. He was extremely friendly, and seemed very competent; he certainly loved that ship.

The Bounty came back to Boothbay for repairs again last month, as it often did.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bounty's sinking brings back thoughts of 1997 training run
posted by homunculus at 4:31 PM on October 29, 2012


RonButNotStupid, that sounds good, but I wonder if you have any credentials that might give me the confidence that you know that would work. I've got a fair amount of tall ship sailing time under my belt and I've never heard of anyone proposing this, it sounds quite unsafe, and I don't know how you can decide that all estuary mud is 'soft enough' (not all of it, a lot of mud bottoms have harder clay areas and softer silt areas, and you can't know where each is without core sampling). The idea that a vessel could be perfectly settled into mud across two or three high tides in a tidal estuary experiencing hurricane force winds and a storm surge while remaining on an even keel, and not harming the vessel or endangering the crew, is farfetched. Intentionally running aground is a truly desperate move.

Maybe you at least have some links to the "long tradition." I know there was an episode in an Aubrey-Maturin novel that resembled this idea, but those aren't real life.
posted by Miko at 4:34 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:37 PM on October 29, 2012


I found some mentions of ships running aground in storms in the late 1800s, but that was a survival situation, a last desperate attempt to save the cargo and vessel - not a planned strategy to get through a storm.
posted by Miko at 4:43 PM on October 29, 2012


I have worked both Tall Ships (and small ones) as a licensed mate and master, as well as USCG Search and Rescue. I also sailed for 6 weeks on the Bounty in the 80s when she was in deteriorating condition.

Although much more information will become available at the required investigation - triggered by deploying the survival rafts, loss of ship, and loss of life - AFAIK the Bounty's heading south based on the information available AT THE TIME was a reasonable decision. Sailing boats are relatively safe in large seas when far from land, but only if they can maintain both stability and buoyancy. Given Bounty's classic hull shape, she had no external keel or ballast to lose (unlike most modern racing-influenced sailing yachts), and her center of gravity was well below waterline to counterbalance her sailing rig. I recall her as being quite stiff and slow to heel even under full sail. However, her classic wooden plank on frame construction, unlike Young America (ferrocement) or USCG Cutter Eagle (Steel on steel frames), makes ships like the Bounty leak heavily in rough seas.

While I do not recall her exact pump rig, having two electrical pumps plus several permanently installed human-powered bilge pumps would be appropriate. The problem is, with only 16 crew, even well-designed human pumps could not keep her afloat under heavy conditions. They're just too exhausting to use if they have the proper capacity for a ship of Bounty's displacement . People can only put out a consistent 1/10HP - and they'd need rest every two hours. The rebuilder's website has her displacement at 500 tons and her onboard electric pumps as 15hp plus an engine-driven pump. As you can see, there's no way the people could keep up with her taking on water, especially if the engine failed.

I hope and pray for the safety and recovery of her crew and the USCG folks who are assisting them and so many others during storm Sandy.
posted by Dreidl at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


.
posted by liza at 5:02 PM on October 29, 2012


Claudene Christian is alive and presumably well
posted by xmutex at 5:02 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, damn, it says unresponsive. Argh
posted by xmutex at 5:04 PM on October 29, 2012


I also think that's hours old by now.
posted by Miko at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2012


This seems definitive.

No word I can see about the Captain.
posted by artlung at 5:25 PM on October 29, 2012


.
posted by Lebannen at 5:28 PM on October 29, 2012


.
posted by SNACKeR at 5:30 PM on October 29, 2012


What a tragedy. I'm sure this will be well examined by both legal and journalistic interests, but man, I hope all the decisions made were the best in the circumstances.

.
posted by georg_cantor at 5:41 PM on October 29, 2012


It's just my opinion, but you probably won't see any posts from Bounty personnel stating that someone screwed up. They would be out of business instantly.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:48 PM on October 29, 2012


.
posted by sammyo at 6:01 PM on October 29, 2012


That might be true if the tall ship "industry" were really a profession - but it really only is for masters and mates. Most others are passing through - college students on summer break, recent graduates, people in transition, volunteers. They do ships for a while and then move on to teaching or boatyard work or whatever sort of career they're going to have. There's no reason they might not give an account if they were so inclined.

Most likely no one will post "here's how things screwed up", but not out of fear about career advancement - out of loyalty. And out of a desire to be someone on the team, not attacking the team. But even so, you can post on a forum anonymously and talk about stuff, and actually that's one important way you can learn which ships and captains to sail with, or not to sail with.

What will happen over time is that personal accounts will get out. When you hang out with tall ship people in person you learn about where they've been in the past and occasionally you might ask "so what happened with the Bounty/Pride/Sofia/Albatross [whatever]," and get the full story. Firsthand and secondhand and so on. Sea stories are alive and well and often pretty tragic or near so. They are instructive.

It's probably too early for any of the Bounty's crew to be doing anything but getting treated for shock, but the other thing I thought i might find were people on forums saying "I sailed with him in 90-whatever and these were my observations" and similar things. Or speculating about the conditions and choices.

I've lost enough track of this whole world that I really don't know where to find this conversation any more, except in port city bars when the volunteers get together (kind of vicariously getting that by email from the Friendship crew right now)...

Finally, I think they are out of business. No ship...no business.
posted by Miko at 6:20 PM on October 29, 2012


It's odd to see this ship referred to as "HMS" Bounty. Is it still legitimate for a ship to be named "Her Majesty's Ship" if it is not actually owned by the British government?
posted by Flashman at 6:31 PM on October 29, 2012


I think her actual legal name was Bounty but she's a replica of the HMS Bounty. Her nonprofit was the HMS Bounty Organization.

"Was." Sometimes gives me the creeps how fast Wikipedians are.
posted by Miko at 6:37 PM on October 29, 2012


Captain Bligh managed to sail a cutter to Timor without losing a single man.

This was a poor decision.
posted by ocschwar at 6:38 PM on October 29, 2012



I just turned on Pandora, and what was the first song played ?

"Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:53 PM on October 29, 2012


.

I'm not going to second guess the decisions made to put out to sea that led to the loss of the Bounty. My sympathy to the Christian family and the crew.
posted by arcticseal at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


That does it, this thread is making me want to turn our as-yet-unplanned honeymoon budget towards a tallship cruise/adventure. I sense an askme in my near future.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:38 PM on October 29, 2012


The Bounty's website has been updated on the Location page, boldface mine:

Replica of original HMS Bounty, built in 1960 for the MGM movie version of Mutiny on the Bounty, which starred Marlon Brando. Overhauled 2006-2007 and returned to active service. From summer 2007 through 2012 was a regular at tall ship events in England, Europe, up and down both coasts of the USA, and the Galapagos Islands. Lost in Hurricane Sandy October 29, 2012.
posted by Malor at 7:39 PM on October 29, 2012


My sympathy to the Christian family and the crew.

It's so interesting her name was Christian, too.

That does it, this thread is making me want to turn our as-yet-unplanned honeymoon budget towards a tallship cruise/adventure. I sense an askme in my near future.

My parents (who are adventurous) used to love Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. They had a bunch of troubles (including losing a vessel) but some of the former staff regrouped and have founded Windjammer Sailing Adventures, which is trying to get up and going. I'm hoping to join on a cruise someday - they sound amazing.

posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miko, I saw some of your awesome answers to some sailing askmes, so thanks for the heads up and links. I might shoot you a PM if this gets more serious. Mrs.Eld is sold on the cruise idea but a tall ship cruise could be a bit more, and at the same time less, appealing.

It looks like it could be a blast.

posted by RolandOfEld at 8:00 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's so interesting her name was Christian, too.

They just mentioned on CBC news that she was a distant relative of Fletcher Christian.
posted by zarah at 8:15 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Folks, maybe this isn't such a good thread for jokes just yet?]
posted by jessamyn at 8:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


They just mentioned on CBC news that she was a distant relative of Fletcher Christian

I wondered if she was and started to look for links on Fletcher Christian genealogy but got all would out about whether or not she would be a Pitcairn descendant and then got distracted by the storm. I can understand her fascination with the ship..not just for that reason but it would help for sure.
posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on October 29, 2012


Bounty victim was mutineer's relative.
As the ship was built in Lunenburg this has been a pretty big story in Nova Scotia. Gerald Zwicker, the carpenter pictured in this Chronicle-Herald story, was interviewed just now on the TV news and was really broken up about all of this.
posted by Flashman at 8:56 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Picton Castle captain questions Bounty being at sea during storm
posted by Flashman at 9:02 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photo of the Bounty sinking from the USCG.
posted by Orinda at 9:11 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


another image of the Bounty awash. From the USCG.
posted by mephron at 9:17 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


A boat captain I work with just emailed me: ”I had a cry about it today. Worked on the Bounty some years ago; I helped reframe and replank the forward part of her hull back in fall of '96 (or so) at Kelly's Shipyard in New Bedford. I remember sitting with the crew eating lunch, and Captain Robin breaking the news to us that one of the oldest working square riggers had gone down in a storm after leaving the shipyard in Europe. He was sad as we all were who work on boats and we speculated on what happened to that ship, wondering what is was like on board. I never thought I would be thinking of him and wondering what happened to him and his crew.” He ends by saying, “I wouldn't be offshore in any hurricane if I could help it, especially on a old wooden ship made up of thousands of wooden parts fastened together with wooden pins and steel spikes, all working and moving and rubbing and flexing in the storm and then BAM a plank pops loose just a bit and the vessel slowly starts to sink and you might not make it back home.”
posted by LeLiLo at 9:47 PM on October 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


The CBC news report also stated that normally going out to sea, as they did, would be the best course in many storms. But it turned out not to be true due to the particular nature of this storm, plus they lost a motor that would have had them through it.
posted by chapps at 10:46 PM on October 29, 2012


Miko, you're probably right. I do tend to get a bit angry about situations like this. Somebody screwed up really badly, and luck is not a real thing in the universe. Someone weighed the safety of these people and the Coast Guard against the need to protect this boat, and it upsets me.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:52 PM on October 29, 2012


Anyone who have a link to a crew manifest? A pal who has crewed tall ships on the west coast thinks she may know someone who was aboard (not Ms. Christian or the captain) and is interested in learning who was there.
posted by mwhybark at 11:35 PM on October 29, 2012


I posted this in the BIG thread, but wanted to repeat here:
"Claudene Christian's family lived close enough to me that I saw them interviewed by the local news. Her family takes comfort in that she died doing what she loved."

They live in a town in Oklahoma. She told them that if the worst happened, she loved being on that ship.

.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:49 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really, really sorry for the dead in the sinking of this ship. But, to keep things in perspective, last week at least 14 Africans (and possibly many more) drowned in the Mediterranean when their boat sank.
Their boat wasn't a glamourous tall ship, and it didn't sink in a monster storm. Chances are, this comment is the first news you have of their demise. But they too were people, with family and friends now mourning them.
..............
posted by Skeptic at 2:56 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


When you hang out with tall ship people in person you learn about where they've been in the past and occasionally you might ask "so what happened with the Bounty/Pride/Sofia/Albatross [whatever]," and get the full story. Firsthand and secondhand and so on. Sea stories are alive and well and often pretty tragic or near so. They are instructive.

This. I can't count the number of times I've sat around after a day working on a ship, or sailing, or just getting together for a pint and I've heard over and over how Pride went down, stories of the people who survived her going down, you name it. Even people only slightly connected with the tall ship sailing community are probably only one degree from everyone else. It is cold comfort right now -- when I've been glued to the news, checking the Coast Guard reports and facebook -- but this will in no way ever be forgotten. And people who start sailing after this will be taught the stories, the way I was taught about Pride.

The photos of the Bounty sinking are...Christ, I don't even know the words. Difficult to look at, and to look away from, all at the same time.
posted by kalimac at 2:57 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Benny Andajetz: "the helicopter is operating in that vertical danger zone where, if anything goes wrong, they're going in the drink, too."
Anybody know how tall the waves out there were? The altimeter reading goes down to 23' at one point ...
posted by brokkr at 4:05 AM on October 30, 2012


http://sailingsimplicity.com/r-i-p-hms-bounty-decision-making-at-sea/
posted by thefool at 5:42 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


..
posted by leotrotsky at 15:59 on October 29 [+] [!]


One if by land, two if by sea?
posted by jph at 6:56 AM on October 30, 2012


Holy crap... I vaguely knew that an acquaintance of mine had taken off to "sail on a tall ship" -- I just found out that he was on the Bounty (and was one of the rescuees.)
posted by Zed at 7:34 AM on October 30, 2012


BBC radio just reported the USCG is "still looking" for the captain and thinks he may still alive. Can that be right?
posted by mwhybark at 11:15 AM on October 30, 2012


no, the guy is reading old news.
posted by mwhybark at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2012


.

Those photos are amazing.

I also appreciate the close-hand knowledge from the sailing community here -- thanks.
posted by liet at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


From this post, I wiki'd the Bounty. And from there, of course read about Fletcher Christian. Then I got Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" in my head. Loudly. Apparently the only thing that can drive that earworm from one's head is Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath".
Thanks, guys...
posted by notsnot at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2012


According to the CBC, the water temp. is 24C and the air is 19C, so the captain may still be found alive. But, "the area of the search is about 2,500 square kilometres".

Does anyone know how well infrared technology works (if at all) when searching large areas like this?
posted by SNACKeR at 12:42 PM on October 30, 2012


BBC radio just reported the USCG is "still looking" for the captain and thinks he may still alive. Can that be right?

That's not old news - he hasn't been found. With the survival suit it's just possible he could be found.
posted by Miko at 3:04 PM on October 30, 2012


thewalrus writes "Likewise, if you are going to sea to avoid a storm, you do so with a skeleton crew -- you don't put 16 lives in danger. Again, I strongly suspect the intent here was to maintain schedule, rather than a concern that the ship could not have been safe in New London."

What is a skeleton crew for a vessel of this type. I was surprised when I heard the news that there were so few people aboard; I'd always thought tall ships required a lot of crew.

RonButNotStupid writes "It's certainly not the best option, but estuary mud is soft enough to form a nice protective cradle to support a hull. In addition, you wouldn't be beaching the vessel, but rather you'd be looking for a place that's just deep enough for the vessel to be floated in at high tide so that it could be gently settled into the mud as the tide receded, with enough water remaining at low tide to still provide some additional support."

How would a manuver like this mesh with storm surges and heavy rain induced flooding?
posted by Mitheral at 5:27 PM on October 30, 2012


it's good to hear the Captain might still be alive, but the newsreader was definitely reading old news. He worked his way through the initial to the final report of Ms. Christian's recovery in chronological order in the course of one sentence. It seemed as if he had not been following the story when it came up and the notes he had were being digested in realtime in chronological order as he ran the show (some sort of call-in thing).

Edit: oh, I see what you are saying. That aspect of the reporting remains valid, therefore not
old news. TYVM.
posted by mwhybark at 5:40 PM on October 30, 2012


What is a skeleton crew for a vessel of this type. I was surprised when I heard the news that there were so few people aboard; I'd always thought tall ships required a lot of crew.

They had 16; that's a more than adequate number of a vessel of her size. What determines the crew requirement for a traditional rig vessel is sail handling. In theory you could handle all the sail you need with 16 people, all hands on deck. In reality, especially in weather like this, they would not be setting all sails (if any, they might have just been motoring, eventually that will be learned).

Crew numbers are an interesting thing and can be misleading. Whaleships, for instance, carried between 30 and 40 crew, but that wasn't for the sailing, it was to have enough crew to man 5 6-man whaleboats and still have a few people aboard the ship. Naval ships were way, way overmanned because they were providing gun crews and marines, not because they needed all those people to sail. That's one reason for all the brass, lacquer, and constant cleaning and maintenance - keeping all those people busy all the time. Ships without extra crew have more utilitarian fittings that don't need all that attention. A full-rigged ship can be sailed with even as low as 8-10 people, though that's uncomfortably thin and those people would be working their tails off climbing both masts. In history, the more mechanized vessels and cargo ports became (with power-assist anchor hauling, for instance, and cargo offloading), the smaller and smaller commercial tall ship crews got. Hard to believe but this enormous cargo ship, one of the last of her kind out sailing, was manned at the end of her career with only 22 people. She was 244 feet long - over 2 1/2 times the overall length of Bounty.

16 is a comfortable number for a skeleton crew. With a bigger crew, each watch will have divisions and each division will rotate around the different stations and probably be responsible for all sail handling on a given mast, or a standard division of responsibilities aloft and on deck, whatever works that crew. This skeleton crew was likely divided into two watches and the 7-8 people in each watch (captain/mate sometimes don't alternate watches) would take turns at the helm, navigating, standing watch, and standing by to make or take in sail as needed - but again, you don't carry a lot of sail in heavy weather, if you're sailing at all. In season, I am sure the Bounty's typical staffing plan involved "interns" or "apprentices" who aren't paid, or are paid a small stipend, and "trainees," who often are paying to be aboard, and volunteers who might be a little more ad hoc.
posted by Miko at 5:41 PM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gah. editing timer cut off spurious hard return edit. sorry.
posted by mwhybark at 5:46 PM on October 30, 2012


Just got an email from my friend who also has her 100 ton license and often sails out of New London. She said "I cannot fathom why the captain chose to leave New London on Thursday evening, when most of us in the area were already beginning storm prep, and head directly toward the storm. It makes no sense. I keep wondering what we don't know."

My one guess is money. Some tall ships organizations are chronically strapped and they may been trying to make budget - some charters or school trips or something waiting in Florida.

That might not be it, but it is a viable guess, as someone else here noted.
posted by Miko at 6:36 PM on October 30, 2012


Not Bounty-related, but an interesting story/video about a swordfishing boat getting trashed by Sandy.
posted by Flashman at 7:20 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: Captain William Bligh making Timor in his little wooden boat with a handful of 'loyal' crew whom the mutineers allowed to leave with him at the time of the mutiny. To learn the full story of this, please read the book 'Men Against the Sea,' book two of the Bounty Trilogy. I have read it. None of those men arrived in acceptable condition. Several of them died right after landing. Basically they died of thirst, exposure and starvation. They endured a living hell, landed, and died. It's a book you'll never forget. Captain Bligh was powered through it by the depth of his hatred for the mutineers. That tragic, epic story is what makes this loss of the replica HMS Bounty matter so much to so many people, even landlubbers like me.
posted by Galadhwen at 11:12 PM on October 30, 2012


I'm a barely active volunteer with a tall ship crew right now and we got this today from the captain, forwarding a note from ASTA (American Sail Training Association) to all members of the Tall Ship community.
Please read the message below from Tall Ships America, often know as ASTA. Their request that the tall ship community hold off on speculation until more definitive information has been collected, and to protect the immediate sensitivities of their crew and their families, is well phrased and I think reasonable.

I echo the thanks, praise and admiration for the Coast Guard in their skilled, successful and brave rescues of the HMS Bounty crew, and those of similar vessels in similar situations. We will review the reports of this loss when they are complete and will make the time then to look at what lessons we can learn from this tragedy as they relate to our operations aboard Friendship. I am not sure if there are ways we can help in supporting the HMS Bounty crew and their families in the aftermath of this loss, but will let you know if I hear anything on these lines.

**ORIGINAL MSG**

To the membership of Tall Ships America:

Certainly everyone in the sailing ship community will have heard that HMS BOUNTY has been lost off Cape Hatteras. Of the sixteen persons reportedly aboard at the time, we understand that one individual has perished, and that fourteen others were rescued, thanks to the exemplary courage and skill of Coast Guard search and rescue personnel. It appears that the vessel’s master, Robin Walbridge, is missing, and the search continues.

We are certain that everyone in the in the community sends their thoughts, prayers, and best wishes to the family of the individual who perished, to the rescued members of the ship’s company and their families, and to the brave Coast Guard team who carry our hopes for Captain Walbridge.

There is currently much speculation about the loss of the vessel. We believe that further speculation is not helpful, especially in view of the respect that is due to the individuals whose lives are directly affected by these tragic events. Tall Ships America does not have any factual information to add, but notes that there will surely be an official inquiry that will assemble much more complete information than is available to anyone now. We are confident that our membership, if called upon, will cooperate with that inquiry in the full spirit of professionalism upon which the sail training movement depends.

For now, we appeal to our members to lend their thoughts and support to the people of BOUNTY and their families, to join us in thanking the Coast Guard rescue team for their heroism on behalf of our colleagues, and to sustain hopes for Captain Walbridge’s safe return.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:48 PM on October 31, 2012


Thanks for sharing, Miko.
posted by Atreides at 2:07 PM on October 31, 2012


I've been following some of the internet's chatter about this over on the Sailing Anarchy forum, where they pretty roundly (and I think preemptively) condemn the skipper.

They, Sailing Anarchy, put up this video of the skipper that was done for a cable access channel in Belfast, Maine. My experience is that you can't tell how a person will react under stress by what they say when they're just yammering on so I don't believe this constitutes any kind of forensic evidence. I would like to note that when he mentions 'chasing Hurricanes' (at about 10:00) he is talking about conventional wisdom that in the worst case scenario it is best to be in the south east quadrant of the storm (hurricanes turn counter-clockwise, the sea-state/waves, are likely to be calmest in this area). He is not suggesting that they actively go out looking for bad weather.

What really did them in was the loss of power. Arguably the captain should have planned his trip with this eventuality in mind, I can't say if he did or not.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:27 AM on November 2, 2012


My tall ship buddy found a survivor list here. She is slightly acquainted with the first guy into the chopper on the USCG video and had crewed with someone who apparently had recently left the ship's company.
posted by mwhybark at 6:32 AM on November 3, 2012


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