With 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.
Here’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