It’s funny how memories return while doing a household chore, like dusting! We
were expecting house guests, recently, so a thorough dusting was in order. As I reached for a ship model, which oftentimes got only a quick whisk of the feather duster, memories did come storming back. It was given to us by our grandson, Philip, when he was about eight years old, (now 23). While shopping with his mother, he insisted on buying that model for us and hesitated to leave the store until she did. Why a ship model? A rather unique gift, don’t you think so? At the time, my husband and I had taken up the sport of sailing a 24 foot Hunter. The ship Philip chose for us was not like ours, but it was a sailing ship, one that has quite a reputation. On a metal plate at the bottom of the model’s stand is the ship’s name, HMS Bounty. Many of you remember the story of it’s adventures and perhaps saw the movie,”Mutiny on the Bounty.”
Before I pick your memory on what you know about the ship HMS Bounty, there’s a story to be told of how we got into sailing. My pilot husband was no longer flying, so
sailing was next to be tried, so he thought! We started out with a world famous “West Wight Potter,” a slick, 15 ft. sloop which was trailered to our home from California. We towed it many places, including Florida, and while heading for these unknown waters, we’d visit the Broscious family, ( Philip is a member of it, his mother,Janine, our daughter). This boat and the next to come would sit in their driveway until we moved on in our travels.(When you buy a gift for someone you want something they like. Philip was well aware that we liked sail boats.) We kept the West Wight Potter about a year. While staying at marinas, crawling into this cabin was like sleeping in a pup-tent.
We began to wish we had something with a bigger cabin and that’s when we chose a
trailerable, 24 foot Hunter boat. This was better, more roomy and for about five years we pulled this boat from one marina to another, sleeping comfortably. Staying tied to docks in wind and rain storms, and putting up and down the 30 ft. mast, were just two reasons we began to look around at what the RV campers were doing. We sold our Hunter and bought in its place a 30 ft. R.V. Our sailing adventures ended and we can brag that we never experienced a ship-wreck, a fire, or mutiny by the crew.
This, of course, was not so with the HMS Bounty. Philip had chosen as his gift to us, a
model of a small merchant vessel purchased in the United Kingdom, by the Royal Navy, on May 26, 1787. Small? It was 90 feet long and was an armed vessel, under the command of William Bligh. The ship sailed off for the Pacific Ocean on a botanical mission, to Tahiti, to acquire breadfruit plants and transport them to the British West Indies. It was hoped they would grow well there and become a cheap source of food for slaves.
Our concern was that our little ships didn’t provide the comfort we were looking for, so hardly would we ever attempt a sail around Cape Horn in a 90 foot, fully rigged ship. I think you could say we were not true sailors.
The crew on the Bounty tried for one month to accomplish this, then proceeded east rounding the southern tip of Africa. It reached Tahiti after ten months at sea. (After reading dozens of books about sailing to points unknown and around the world, we knew we were not truly dedicated sailors.) But, the Bounty sailors were. They collected and prepared 1015 breadfruit plants to be transported to the West Indies. After five months of living on Tahiti, they were ready to set sail. And with them would be Fletcher Christian’s wife, Maimiti, a Tahitian woman.
Thirteen hundred miles west of Tahiti mutiny broke out on the Bounty. Bligh and and several other crew members sailed in an open boat on an arduous journey to the Dutch port of Coupang and safely landed there 47 days later. The story doesn’t end without much bloody conflict with the natives. The Bounty, with the mutineers, eventually sailed back to Tahiti. After the kidnapping of Tahitians, they planned an escape to another island, Pitcairn. To prevent the ship’s detection, the Bounty was burned,
There’s much more to this story, a story many of you are familiar with. I think Philip made an excellent choice for a gift. Every time I dust the model of the HMS Bounty it brings back memories of him, our sailing experiences and of adventurous history. This we wouldn’t have otherwise. Hope to hear your comments about this post on ShirlandYou.