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  #1241  
Old 12-10-2012
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

We can make 2000 posts easy.

By the way, PCP, your english is outstanding. Anyone that can debate in a foreign language has it down, regardless of whether they are right.

My son is taking German as his required language at an Ivy League college. He was laughing, when I saw him over Thanksgiving, that he had a conversational exam with his professor. He was asked what he knew of Alaska. He gave some reply in German that included knowing there were bears in Alaska. Then we was asked what he knew of the bears. He suttered and all he could muster up in German was, "they're brown".

You've got the language down.
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  #1242  
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

I am copying the majority of a post I made on a gCaptain forum, something I have been following re:Bounty since soon after she went down. Clearly I have too much time on my hands to be reading all these forums, but well, I have no excuse other than a frozen lake in winter.

Some background on me: I have nearly six years of experience as crew on various Tallships, ranging from 60-150 feet, and sailing in and around both US coasts, the FL Keys, and many many islands in the South Pacific. Professionally, I met Captain Walbridge twice to speak with him about working for Bounty, seen the boat, lived aboard her while at dock, and know many former crew members (I have never sailed aboard Bounty). I also know Captain Miles (the author of the "my friend" letter), and have sailed as a volunteer on the Pride of Baltimore II (he was co-captain of the original Pride, and has been captain of Pride II since her creation).

Please forgive me, I know this is long-winded, but I'd like to share the "tallship sailor's side," if you will.

I have not talked about the Bounty publicly (either in forums, Facebook, etc) out of respect for her crew (some of whom are friends), and I believe that is why the TallShip community as a whole has been quiet. It has NOT been to protect the name of the Bounty by any means, but the actual people. However, it has been several weeks, and I am incredibly frustrated by most of what I've read on this forum and others, not to mention the Bounty Facebook page. I am not defending the Bounty, Captain Walbridge or the decision to go to sea. I only wish to defend the rest of the Tallship Community/Industry (I refer to both because I feel that this is both a career to many of us, and it is also a very small, tight-knit community) who are being grouped in with the Bounty defenders. Nor are probably 99% of those posting inane comments on the Bounty Facebook page or elsewhere.

1. The crew that makes up the base of the TSCI are supported by a large percentage of volunteers. Sometimes those crew volunteered in order to be "promoted" to paying jobs, other times they were retirees or weekend warrior types. Some TallShips have "pay-to-play" or "trainee" type programs, like the Picton Castle. PC left recently for a circumnavigation (notably postponing leaving Nova Scotia until Sandy was out of the way), and "pay-to-play" is how she funds her overhead costs. Most other Tallships are funded by donors, educational field trips, "appearance fees" (though this has become more rare), and passenger fees on daysails/overnight sails. I have volunteered occasionally, though my first gig on a TallShip was as paid crew. Whether they were paid, paying, or volunteer crew, quite often a ship is a sailor's "home." For the majority of the last 6 years, I lived aboard the boats I worked on, and had mail forwarded to friends or family. On top of this, most TallShips don't pay much. Over the years, depending on the organization that owned the boats and my experience or position, I was paid between $400-1400 a month (the lower end of the scale 90% of the time). I'll come back to it, but note that if a sailor were to leave Bounty (former crew have told me they made $200-240 a month, with officers not making much more. Bounty was notorious for low pay.) a few nights in a hotel or a flight home would be a month's pay.

2. In the TallShips Community, Bounty was an anomaly. There are a small handful of other Tallships that are privately owned, and not managed by a non-profit. In essence, the USCG saw her as a yacht (which is why she was an "uninspected" vessel), not much different than a private motor yacht. On the other hand, Lady Maryland, for example, is a 104-foot wooden schooner built in 1986 by the Living Classrooms Foundation. She operates March-November with an ecology based program, teaching 4th-12th grade students and sailing with them in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as in New England. To do this, she is inspected every year by the USCG (not only checking the hull, rig, and maintenance, but also making us crew “re-enact” man-overboard, fire, and evacuation drills), has all the proper paperwork showing exactly how many crew and what licenses (and what size) are needed to operate, as well as watertight bulkheads, etc, and amount of sails and size she can carry (i.e., LM can only sail with her main topsail if there are no passengers aboard). Bounty did not have to go through any of this, and might only have a very basic inspection, and carried a six-pack, or 6 passenger max (some people say 12pax? I'm just going off conversations with crew from years ago), uninspected vessel license. There is a world of difference between the way she and the majority of Tallships are operated. Why did she advertise school/corporate sails on her website? I don't know how the office planned on making that happen, but I have never heard of that happening aboard Bounty, with the exception of the occasional paying passenger. So why did she not have subchapter T certification? I can't answer that question, only the office or Walbridge can. The problem comes when you begin to think about why a vessel like Bounty should be inspected. Because she carries passengers/pay-to-play? Technically as long as it's six/12 or less, she doesn't need any bigger certification. Because she is a large boat? There are private motor/sailing yachts that size that don't need inspection. Because she's old/wooden/replica? There are again, many many privately owned vessels that old or older that remain uninspected (a friend of mine is restoring a 1920s schooner to use as a charter boat with six passengers, so he won't need any inspection).

In all reality, if USCG rules are changed, that's a hell of a lot more paperwork/manpower/regulation that will have to be put into place, for every single “old boat,” or vessel over such-and-such feet.

3. Many other sailors had heard “sea stories” about her, though I know a lot of us wrote these off as hyperbolic (because sea stories usually are). Since this story and the “we chase hurricanes” interview have come to light, it appearing obvious that many of the stories are not as overblown as we thought they were. I must admit, I have warned friends away from working on the Bounty, and I know I am not the only one.

4. Most Tallships carry greenhands. That’s how we learn. In weather like this hurricane, with as much forewarning as there was available, Bounty should never have left the dock especially with newer crew (even with my experience - the biggest seas I've seen are 20ft, and 50-60knots - the thought of sailing toward a hurricane makes my stomach turn over). She did have eight “experienced” crew with licenses/AB cert, and several others with a couple years of experience, but the rest were all new, including Claudene (note: I don’t consider six months aboard a sailor’s first boat “well-seasoned”). To be honest, Bounty was kind of a "green boat." That is, she often had crew fresh off the dock, and many of her officers were crew that had mostly or only sailed Bounty. That can be a good thing, as her older crew are extremely familiar with her nuances, but it can also mean that her crew have a lackadaisical approach when on another vessel (we never did that on the Bounty, etc).

5. In addition, the ship’s engineer in a recent interview (who boarded the ship in Boothbay, where the ship was hauled out) stated "at that point in time, I didn't know a hurricane was coming" and “we didn’t realize the magnitude of the storm.” That blows my mind. I have to wonder, because of their naivety about the weather (I have to admit, sometimes life aboard a Tallship can become very insular with little news of the rest of the world “outside,” but I try to take opportunities to watch news in the bar, or catch the front page of newspapers, etc, and most definitely pay attention to the weather reports on the VHF) was Walbridge able to psyche the crew up for a “wild ride” and get them to follow him?

6. Finally, if you are a crew member at the dock and hear about Hurricane Sandy, what do you do? Do you jump ship and leave your crewmates behind? Remember, not only does this look bad on your part, but you have also left your friends, and home. If Walbridge hadn’t said that he wouldn’t hold it against them if they left, in the small community of Tallships, this is possibly a blacklisting offense. As crew, where do you go? What if you left and the ship made it to Florida safely? All kinds of things could be said against you. If you incite others to leave, when does it become mutiny (and if other captains hear this, why should they trust and hire you, when you didn’t trust your captain’s judgment)? Other posters on this forum wondered why in the 15+ years that Walbridge was captain on Bounty, why no one said anything about him. What do you say? If something happens that causes you as a sailor to lose your trust in your Captain, where do you go? Do you tell another captain? The USCG? That’s hearsay, and certainly your word as a deckhand versus a captain. If you as a captain of another Tallship hear a sea story that makes you question Walbridge, you’re repeating hearsay and possibly ruining Walbridge’s reputation if it was only a false rumor.

7. In defense of Captain Miles' letter, I do not know the exact extent of his relationship with Captain Walbridge, but I do know they were at least friendly and good acquaintances. I think his reasoning for addressing Walbridge as "my friend" was twofold; they were friends and had very similar social circles, but also he was perhaps using "friend" as a way of softening a blow when the letter needed to be said. It comes back to the TSC not addressing the situation other than with condolences because many of our friends are former crew. I know as a majority, the TSC let out a sigh of relief when we read Captain Miles' words. He is extremely well-respected for his experience and knowledge in the community.
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  #1243  
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
We can make 2000 posts easy.

By the way, PCP, your english is outstanding. Anyone that can debate in a foreign language has it down, regardless of whether they are right.

My son is taking German as his required language at an Ivy League college. He was laughing, when I saw him over Thanksgiving, that he had a conversational exam with his professor. He was asked what he knew of Alaska. He gave some reply in German that included knowing there were bears in Alaska. Then we was asked what he knew of the bears. He suttered and all he could muster up in German was, "they're brown".

You've got the language down.
Thank you. It is one of the reasons I hang here. Just to improve it. I have started recentely on an Italian forum with the same purpose, but that is a bit more difficult since I had not any formal education whit it.

No the German is another thing, I can understand something in what regards reading, but speaking... no way. My wife speaks reasonably well German and reads books without difficulty. I have tried to learn but the grammar and all those declinations are just a pain in the ass. I understand quite well your son's dificulties

Regards

Paulo
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepl3nty View Post
... I know as a majority, the TSC let out a sigh of relief when we read Captain Miles' words. He is extremely well-respected for his experience and knowledge in the community.
Thanks for your post and your explanations. I had the intuition that TSC wanted badly not to be confounded with the Bounty and you make that clearer as already had done another poster that crews on tall ship Gazela.

I love tall ships and traditional wooden boats so I understand very well your concern with the repercussions this sad adventure with a bad ending can have on the Tall Ship Community. I hope CG can find a balanced compromise between the needs to regulate the ships and crews in a way to warrant a good level of safety and sustainability.

Regards

Paulo
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  #1245  
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Thank you forn your post. Hopefully you dont join make one post and run. You post was very informative and excellent and provides insight and also raises questions which I hope you are willing to or can answer.

Since you spent so much time in MD on the Pride, Do you know the captain of the tall ship Witchcraft stationed in Pasadena Maryland? What kind of classification would that boat be in terms of tall ships. What kind of liscencing would he need?

Quote:
What do you say? If something happens that causes you as a sailor to lose your trust in your Captain, where do you go? Do you tell another captain
This is a question I have kept asking. Sorry, but I need more clarity from you about your answer. I understand the blacklisting/ mutiny thing, but now since the Captain is being accused by some of deriliction all along ( we all pretty much agree about his responsibility in the leaving of port to sail into sandy), why are there still no stories or posts from others as to previous instances. Surely there are forum like this one, where your anononimity would be protected and you could air your concerns. maybe had you since you carefully talk around them and others had air concerns about this vessel and crew they would have been looked at more closely.

Quote:
Many other sailors had heard “sea stories” about her, though I know a lot of us wrote these off as hyperbolic (because sea stories usually are). Since this story and the “we chase hurricanes” interview have come to light, it appearing obvious that many of the stories are not as overblown as we thought they were. I must admit, I have warned friends away from working on the Bounty, and I know I am not the only one
Why?
What are you not saying directly here?
Was there a problem with the Captain here?
Was there a problem with the crew?
Was there a problem with the Ship?
Was there a problem with the company which owned the ship?.

Can you be specific as to what the reason you warned your friends from working on the Bounty? Just saying you wouldnt work on the vessel or wouldnt want your friends to implies irregularities. Mmre than just poor pay.

I look forward to reading your answers.

Dave
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  #1246  
Old 12-11-2012
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
By the way, PCP, your english is outstanding. Anyone that can debate in a foreign language has it down, regardless of whether they are right.
You add a great deal to the conversation on Sailnet, PCP. In addition to your command of the English language and your articulation of a European perspective on boats and sailing, you research your points and provide objective third-party support for your views - a rare breath of fresh air in a listserv where too many take the easy way out and just want to spout out unsupported subjective biases.

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  #1247  
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
You add a great deal to the conversation on Sailnet, PCP. In addition to your command of the English language and your articulation of a European perspective on boats and sailing, you research your points and provide objective third-party support for your views - a rare breath of fresh air in a listserv where too many take the easy way out and just want to spout out unsupported subjective biases.

James, thanks. It is nice to have a so positive feedback. I would say that the same applies to you in what regards a legal perspective of many situations. That is rare. Normally lawyers are too much occupied earning money to "lose" time in a forum.

Also it is a fresh breath of air to have intelligent younger guys like you and some few others posting. Most are older guys like me that had more time to learn not to be too dumb Cheers to all younger posters around.

Regards

Paulo
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

sparklepl3nty, for the most part, what you wrote, and I read every word, didn't surprise me. It sounded a lot like the land based working world. "Keep your mouth shut if you want a job." I'm not saying Walbridge was like that but, like you said, those things can go through someone's head when they are thinking of criticizing the boss.

That speaks to the mentality of keeping quiet to CYA so common in the working world. Ten people can trash talk a boss and it will be they who find themselves out of a job. But one boss can destroy the reputation of as many people he or she wants and it will rarely affect the job status of that boss. I've been on both sides of that fence so I know what I'm talking about.

What did surprise me was your statement about the general knowledge in the TSC to stay away from the Bounty and the relief felt my many in the community when Miles posted his letter on FB. Miles got pretty well trashed here for doing that.

When you apply that CYA mentality to the crew of the Bounty and the situation they were faced with at the dock when Walbridge told them of his plans to sail towards Sandy, one can just imagine what went through the minds of the crew. It wouldn't surprise me if they swallowed hard, crossed their fingers and stepped aboard hoping for the best.

Practically all the crew of the Bounty is on Facebook and not one has posted anything negative about the Bounty or its captain. There are many others on FB who have crewed on Bounty and they too have nothing bad to say about the ship or the captain, even the ones no longer working in the TSC.

We're in tough economic times. Combine that with the lure of the sea many of us have, the romanticized images that may float through one's head just looking at these majestic tall ships and the desire to sail a tall ship, and it's easy to see how someone who crews on a tall ship would feel it wise to speak nothing negative about their experiences or their captain.

But, if that is in fact the case here, that silence cost the loss of ship and crew and will probably do so again unless regular inspections become mandatory. I fear the odds of that are very slim. The only other option is for those who have knowledge of poorly maintained vessels or reckless leadership to report that to the proper authorities. If the TSC is anything like the regular working world, there's almost no chance of that happening either.

Thank you for your insight, your honesty and your willingness to speak out.
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

I seem to recall there being three separate professionals from the TSC hat have now opined that the Bounty, as whole, was a inferior operation to their standards. I've read reference to her physical condition, propensity to take on danger and the relative lack of professional crew. That all adds up to a cultural problem with Bounty.

It doesn't make than all the Captain's fault, but he would be the leader responsible for it.

As speculation, I can image a laid back culture would be very attractive to some. Less structure, fewer rules, not living under the tyranny of "the man". I have no way to say that was the culture, I'm only pointing out how a very distructive one could still cause its members to think it was great and retain admiration for its leadership.

My point is that the general support of the crew for their Captain does not convince me that he was a good leader. In some cases, the best leaders are not the most liked.
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

I am hoping sparlepl3nty will return and post again and answer some of the questions I posed to him/ her.

Without starting a storm here, a one post contributer in the past has raised suspicions. Dont read into what I am saying here. I am just folowing a tradition which has been in effect on SN by asking.

I would like to hear what specifically they were worried about instead of trying to guess it. The culture, the ship, the Captain, the owner. Just throwing out generalities only fuels the speculation more.

If the TSC was so worried about the Bounty and now it has sunk and is gone and they are so united about the ship, surely there will be no repercussions about speaking frankly about what SPECIFICALLY was wrong on the Bounty. You would think they would want to try and make it narrowed to the Bounty so that the spotlight isnt cast on the whole industry. Surely you would also think that if there were these specific p[roblems abaord this ship they would be identified so they dont happen again on other tall ships.

That would be part of the learned lesson we are asking for here.

So Sparkelpl3nty speak back up. Let everyone know what it was specifically so we can correct it going forward and it doesnt cost someone their lives again. Its obvious the silence before hand about this didnt work by your own admission. After all this may benefit you and your freinds in this industry which you is aparent oin your passion, which may have safety and culture issues as is now being speculated that can be corrected for all TSC members..
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Last edited by chef2sail; 12-11-2012 at 02:00 PM.
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