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post #116 of Old 12-07-2012
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Re: An Informed Opinion about the Bounty

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I missed the Weather Channel too, but I'm sure someone can share.
We had a dinner engagement Wednesday evening so missed the earlier broadcast of US Coast Guard--Bounty Rescue, but I stayed up to watch (most of) the 23:00 to 24:00 re-broadcast. The program mostly focused on the CG's efforts to rescue the crew, which were pretty spectacular in the conditions, with a good deal of film of the operation as viewed from (I presume) gun cameras and the like.

There were cuts of comments by two of the members of the crew that had been recovered, an older fellow and a very young man, both of whom described the difficulties of escaping the boat once it had capsized (the spars/rigging were a particular hazard). Both crewmen spoke highly of the captain and of their faith in his judgement, emphasizing that he had given the crew the option of quitting the ship without penalty of any type before they departed. Evidently, none did so. While neither man had any animus for the captain, neither seemed to have much knowledge of the matter of handling a ship, or tall ships in particular, in general or in the conditions. One or the other did note that until the scudding sail split, they were "Okay" in the circumstances, but afterward the ship became unmanageable. That, of course, stands to reason as the scudding sail would have stabilized the ship--more or less--even in the conditions, without which she would have rolled her guts out, and did so until she reached her limiting angle of stability/recovery. Notably, even as the Coast Guards quite the scene many hours after the ship turtled, it remained afloat, just below the surface, under the effect of entrapped air and the buoyancy of the ship's timbers which gives me to believe that she was under ballasted. Otherwise, she would have gone down like a rock. If underballasted, the ship's stability would have been seriously compromised, particularly on so great a hull. Sailing ships of the period represented by the Bounty (near) replica were heavily ballasted, either by stores and cargo or "dead" ballast (e.g. rock), that was discharged when a cargo was taken aboard (discharged ballast was often used to create keys and/or breakwaters such as the breakwater at "Ballast Point" on Catalina Island.)

N'any case, the program did not offer any more insights on what the captain's thinking might have been that led him and his crew to sea before the storm. The graphic of his track did show that he did not make enough easting to avoid the storm as he might have given its northwestward turn but I suspect he was expecting the storm to curve to the northeast, as most such storms do, when it passed Hatteras and so turned southwest above the storm to make for the navigable semicircle and to keep the prevailing winds on his port quarter throughout. That strategy worked until his scudding sail blew out. Absent a replacement, and a crew strong and knowledgeable enough to set it, their fate was sealed.


"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."

Last edited by svHyLyte; 12-07-2012 at 10:34 AM.
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