Sunday, December 29, 2013

BEST OF 2013: HMS Bounty Hearings: Into The Eye Of the Storm

HMS Bounty Hearings: Into The Eye Of the Storm
Doug Mills
Maritime Editor
RCN America Network
Feb. 20, 2013

Today was a very busy day at the HMS Bounty hearings.  We heard from two Bounty hands and three captains of other tall ships.
First up today was Anna Sprague Deckhand on the bounty.  Much of her testimony was the same as we have been hearing.  She spoke of how long it took to get the first person into the life raft.  It took nearly an hour to get 6 people into the raft.  Anna stated that at one point she could hear a cry for help “Help me I’m caught”  But they were too farr away to get to.
There was continued questioning astute bilge pump systems and how there were concerns about the pumps before the ship set out for Florida.
We also heard from Jessica Black the cook on the Bounty.  She joined the crew the day before they sailed.

The rest of the day was given over to three highly experienced tall ship captains. The first was Captain Moreland from the Picton Castle.  Captain Moreland has over 40 years of experience most of that time in wooden sailing ships.  Master of the Picton Castle for the last 10 years.
On October 19th they were scheduled to sail south from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia but due to the weather forecast for the next days they postponed their departure.  As the storm developed the decision was made to prepare for heavy weather at the dock in Lunenburg.
When asked his reaction to finding out that Captain Walbridge had taken the HMS Bounty into the hurricane, Captain Moreland said that if he had found out sooner he would have personally called  him and even yelled at him for making such a decision.
He stated he could not imagine heading out into that storm, he could not believe it, it was shocking.

Next to testify was Captain Miles of the Pride Of Baltimore II.  Questions about caulking and the need to have it done by experienced caulkers.  Both Captains were asked about the products used to seal the seams after the caulking had been done.  Both Captains stated that they would never consider using a product like Dap, as the Bounty had used.
When asked “ What was your reaction to the Bounty sailing into the teeth of a hurricane, Captain Miles stated that he could not understand, “I was rather stunned!”  They should have stayed in port or possible moved to New Bedford which was better protected.  He stated he could not understand a reason to sail into that kind of weather.  Mariners should avoid as best they can a hurricane.   “It was reckless in the extreme!”

The last witness of the day was Captain Bailey of the Gazela Primeiro and the replica of the HMS Rose which appeared in the movie Master and Commander. When asked about Captain Walbridges decision to sail he stated he could not understand what would cause him to do such a thing.

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