With HMS Bounty Sunk, Nothing Left But Bickering

HMS Bounty - Hurricane SandyWith the HMS Bounty falling victim to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, an ugly spectacle is playing out on the tall ship's facebook page

Lots of people are leaving comments criticizing the decision of the captain (Robin Walbridge) to try and sail through the storm, while others are praising the captain (still lost at sea) as a skilled and brave mariner.

I am not going to wade into the debate, except to say that when I first learned that the Bounty was trying to make it through the hurricane I was shocked.  You can read our first article here.

Yes, there is a saying that it is safer for the ship to be at sea rather than at port (where the ship can sustain serious damage such as striking a pier), but there is no question that it is safer for the crew to be ashore rather than on the high seas trying to navigate around a monster storm like this.

Memories of the Fantome, lost in Hurricane Mitch in 1998, come to mind - A Cornered Ship, 32 Men and a Date With Doom

The Bounty's facebook page contains some eerie reading as communications from the captain were posted on line explaining his strategy as he tried to skirt the hurricane.  

HMS Bounty - Hurricane SandyHere's an excerpt of one of the captain's last communications

"I think we are going to be into this for several days, the weater looks like even after the eye goes by it will linger for a couple of days

We are just going to keep trying to go fast and squeese by the storm and land as fast as we can.

I am thinking that we will pass each other sometime Sunday night or Monday morning

All else is well."

The Tall Ships Organization issued a statement asking for there to be no speculation about the incident and for the public to support the crew and hope for Captain Walbridge’s safe return.

Notably missing from the statement is any mention of crew member, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, who died in the ordeal. 

 

Photo credits: Sunken HMS Bounty - U.S. Coast Guard

Weather - HMS Bounty facebook page

Hurricane Sandy Sinks HMS Bounty - 14 Rescued, 2 Missing at Sea

The HMS Bounty, a three masted sailing ship which was built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando and more recently was featured in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, sank in the Atlantic after encountering high winds and heavy seas brought by Hurricane Sandy.

The ship was reportedly sailing from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida when it began taking on water and lost propulsion last night. 

According to the HMS Bounty Organization's website, the ship's position was off the coast of North HMS Bounty - Sank - Hurricane SandyCarolina, at N 34°22' W 074°15'. 

There were 16 people aboard the ship including crew as well as passengers.

Last night, the Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to the area. This morning two Coast Guard helicopters arrived and hoisted 14 people who had abandoned ship and were in 25-foot lifeboats. Two individuals are missing.

The news accounts raise the question why the ship was sailing given the advance warnings of the storm.

The situation reminds me of the loss of the Windjammer Fantome, a tall masted ship which sank in 1998 during Hurricane Mitch.

October 29, 2012 Update:  ABC News is reporting that the two individuals lost at sea went overboard when they were attempting to transfer to lifeboats. "What we know is that the whole crew was getting ready to board the life rafts, and as they were about to board, three people ended up on the water. One was able to get out [of the water] and get into rafts, and the other two are still unaccounted," Lt. Junior Grade Brendan Selerno told ABCNews.com.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. Two people were admitted to the hospital, one with a broken arm and another with an injured back.

Other news sources are reporting that one of two missing crewmembers, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, was found this evening but she was npn-responsive.  The 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing.

A video of the Coast Guard rescue is below.  it is dramatic; you can hear one of the crew say the "raft flipped 2 PIW" (two people in water).

October 31, 2012 Update: The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for the captain and is hopeful that he may still alive in his survival gear.