H.M.S. Bounty: A Remembrance

It was such terrible news to hear that the replica tall ship H.M.S. Bounty went down off the coast of North Carolina with loss of life during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29. At first the news on the ship’s own Facebook page was that all the crew was accounted for. Now one is known dead and another, the captain, is missing. The Coast Guard recently suspended the search for the captain.

The ship was built for the filming of the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty and made an appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean II. She visited Baltimore in 2010 as part of the festivities for Privateer Day in Fell’s Point, which I attended. She was a highlight of the day.

I went aboard like so many other guests and was overwhelmed by her size and majesty. I chatted with one of the crew, studied the wheel and masts (research), and took many photos that are now sprinkled all over this website.

Belowdecks, I bought a souvenir T-shirt. That year, they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of her construction. On the front the shirt says, “H.M.S. Bounty / 50 Years of History.” By unfortunate coincidence, I was wearing that T-shirt when I heard she was in distress this past Monday. It’s a shirt that has sparked interest and conversation since I bought it.

I wore it when I went to Sailabration, the event this past June when tall ships visited Baltimore’s harbor in commemoration of the War of 1812. A stranger passing by tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Great shirt.”

I wore it when I went to this year’s Privateer Day in April. A crew member of the Pride of Baltimore II noticed it and said he knew someone who was crew on the Bounty and had a lot of those shirts.

I wore it at Balticon last year and it sparked a discussion with a vendor who was familiar with the ship’s visit to Baltimore. The con’s guest of honor remarked on it when I had books signed, taking notice.

Everyone, it seems, has heard of and is interested in the Bounty.

During that Privateer Day when she visited Baltimore she had a mock battle with the Pride. Before that, guests helped in setting a sail as she backed away from the dock. Then, with the ship angled only a little away from us in the crowd, the crew prepared to set off a cannon. Someone, possibly the captain, warned us to cover our ears. The report was loud, but even more impressive was how I could feel the sound wave hitting me in the chest from the blast. It was thrilling. Everyone cheered.

She was a magnificent vessel. And you didn’t need a blast from a cannon to feel her thump you in the chest.

My thoughts are with the crew and the crew’s families. Rest easy, Bounty.

Photos © ACF