Little Bits of History

A Voyage to the South Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2010

Mutiny on the Bounty

April 28, 1789: The Mutiny on the Bounty takes place. It was a real event on the British Naval vessel HMS Bounty. She cost £1,950 to build. She began sailing as a cargo ship named Bethia and then was sold to the Royal Navy for £2,600 in 1787 and her name was changed to Bounty. The ship was rather small, displacing 215 tons, she was 91 ft long by 24 ft at the beam with a crew of 46. She went into commission on August 16, 1787 and was put into service on October 15 of that same year. She was given just a single mission.

Captain William Bligh, at least in the book and movies, was a harsh master. However, by comparing his discipline methods to other captains of the time, the 33-year-old flogged less often and with fewer lashes than others. In fact, three men who deserted and were captured could have been hung for their crime, but Bligh had them flogged instead.

The mission for Bligh and his men was to take breadfruits from Tahiti to the Caribbean. The West Indies needed a cheap supply of food for the slaves accumulating there. Breadfruit trees provide a plentiful crop of starchy fruit that can be roasted, baked, fried, or boiled. The taste is said to be “potato-like” or similar to fresh baked bread. It took ten moths of sailing to reach the Pacific Ocean paradise. The crew then spent five months gathering the plants and readying them for transport. Fletcher Christian even married a Tahitian. After the tranquility of island life, the rigors of sea life became problematic. Bligh was known to verbally castigate his crew and this may have led to loyalty problems.

Christian awoke Bligh and sent him and 18 crew members off in a launch. Because of Bligh’s great navigational skill, he got his men to safety, losing only one to stoning when they attempted to land on an island. Bligh returned to England and later served with Admiral Nelson. Christian never did make it back to civilization and died on one of the area islands.

“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Montapert

“A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail.” – Sterling Hayden

“One of the advantages of being Captain is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.” – James T. Kirk

“Why do people in ship mutinies always ask for “better treatment”? I’d ask for a pinball machine, because with all that rocking back and forth you’d probably be able to get a lot of free games.” – Jack Handey

Also on this day, in 1947 Kon-Tiki set sail with Thor Heyerdahl as captain.