October 22, 2017
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Comments for: Scrutiny begins over HMS Bounty’s hurricane disaster

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  • Anonymous

    Minor point but vessels such as this are not called “sailboats”.  

  • Anonymous

    Certainly a sad situation all the way around.It is very easy to play “monday morning quarteback’,but I’m going to anyway.I am a Merchant Marine of 33 years.I have been all over the place and have been on uncountable types of vessels. I am a Chief Engineer,not a Captain,so in the end ,even though you very well may disagree,it’s up to the Captain when he or she decides to sail. That doesn’t mean it’s the right decision.Sadly,as with most things in life,the reasons for making these decisions are money,one way or the other.I feel really sad for everyone that went through this,but especially the younger ones who din’t really have much choice except to go. I can only tell you that I would not have sailed with the information known,and would have gotten off the vessel in New London as soon as he said we were going to sail.

    • Anonymous

      I agree completely.

      My father, who was a naval aviator during the times when pilots also had to be their own meteorologists as well as celestial navigators, always spoke of the need to respect forces greater than ourselves, particularly mother nature. He taught all of us it is better to be safe than sorry, whether traversing the sky or land or the sea, and he NEVER would have set out into a storm of the proportions that Captain Walbridge took his ship and crew into even if he had been under orders to do so–UNLESS it was for our national security. (Like any service man or woman, he would have given his life for our country without question.)

      To choose to leave the safety of port with other lives in your hands IS nothing less than foolhardy and contemptuous of the lives at stake if something went wrong–particularly in the context of what the captain and crew would possibly encounter out there on the open ocean. Someone with that much experience should have taken into account the possibility of losing power, of the ship becoming disabled and thought “what then?”. If there was no backup the “what then” translates–as it did–to a sitting duck at the mercy of every giant wave and screaming wind.

      The ship, another replica, can be rebuilt but the lives lost cannot ever be replaced. The captain evidently paid for his bad decision with his life, but he also is responsible for the death of one of his crew. Very sad indeed.

      I also wonder why no one, the Harbor Master included, the Coast Guard as well, tried to stop the HMS Bounty’s departure!!

      • Anonymous

        With all due respect to your dad, his experience doesn’t necessarily translate to his son.  I’m sure your father would be the first to say that he wasn’t there, onboard, and therefore should reserve judgement.  It is easy to come to conclusions of what one would or wouldn’t do.  But in the end, if you aren’t the one who is actually there and making the decisions, then you just do not know the circumstances well enough to criticize.  I’m not putting you down, just asking that you might reconsider such a harsh judgement.  As for the Harbor Master and Coast Guard, I believe it is beyond their power to make such a decision for the Captain of a vessel. You should be aware that the decision to go to sea in the face of a bad storm is often thought of as being safer than remaining in port. You might have noticed that the U.S. Navy actually sends it’s larger vessels to sea deliberately during a hurricane. They feel there is less chance of damage than if they stayed in port (Norfolk in this case). This strategy is not uncommon. It was done in the old days of commercial sail and even today some small yachts in exposed foreign ports will go to sea depending upon the circumstances. Just so you know.

      • Anonymous

        “Better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.” – Old aviator’s saying about bad weather, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Riding out a hurricane at sea in a small boat, a sailing vessel, is an experience no sailor ever forgets.  Things happen.  The vessel can be overwhelmed momentarily, or longer, and  the courage of the crew is tested.  Believe me, it sometimes takes all a person can muster to risk death while trying to maintain the boat so as best to face the winds and seas.  I can recall being seasick and literally puking on myself when hauling in sails while sitting on the bowsprit during a hurricane.  The wind blown rain can hurt so bad you cannot keep your eyes open. The vessel may broach. I’ve floated on top of the sea, holding onto the tiller, while our boat broached and was literally under water for a moment. It can blow so hard you must crawl forward on the deck clutching, whatever, because you cannot stand in that much wind. You don’t care, you do what you have to do.  Sometimes, tragically, even when the crew has done their best a vessel may founder.  In the days of commercial sailing this happened on a very regular basis.  When you’ve had the experience you appreciate this possibility.  So people should not be too quick to criticize. There but for the grace of God go I.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah , at first i thought he was insane to go into that storm. but he wasn’t the only big boat out there. in the end i would agree it was mechanical failure that doomed the ship and , sadly, 2 people’s lives. 

  • This probably was partly caused by that ship hitting the dock in Eastport around the fourth of July
    I have pics of the damage but no one seems to know anything about it. Their where other people on the pier when it hit and I believe it cracked the keel in half. Some one should investigate it throughly   

  • Anonymous

    They talk about “failure of their power” as if this was some thing that  just came out of nowhere.

    The diesel engines in a large sailing vessel like this one was, are low down in the hull. Fuel tanks and anything else weighing a fair amount are placed as low in the ship as practibal. Diesel propulsion units and diesel powered generators can only run as long as they can get air in the intakes and fuel uncontaminated with anything like water.

    The vessel was obviously leaking badly, as wooden vessels are  wont to do, in severe conditions like they were in. A message said the water was rising 2 ft per hour, in a 180 ft vessel that is a lot of water from very major leaks, leaks that threaten the survival of the ship. Obviously water either contaminated the fuel and stopped the engines, orthe water rose over the air intakes. Once the engines stopped the vessel was doomed with that kind of leak.

    A crew of 16, many amateurs with little sea experience, was barely adequate to sail the vessel on a calm day, and totally inadequate to handle the vessel in  hurricane conditions!

    The original Bounty was sightly smaller yet had a crew of 24 able seamen, and a complement of 24 officers, with literally hundreds of years of sea experience among them, by contrast

  • Too bad they didn’t have a double hull vessel or a back up engine

  • Anonymous

    Sad, even submerged it’s a beautiful ship.  Can see why they became so enamored with the vessell, they’d risk their lives in a hurricane to save it from being wrecked in port.  At least they died doing what they loved.  Surely Captain Hindsight thinks a stronger motor and a day earlier would’ve gotten the ship safely east of Bermuda. Haven’t sailed much since I was a teenager, but even if I’d kept up with it, dont’ think I’d ever be sold on this “ride just south the hurricane eye” theory.

    • Anonymous

      There were no ships lost here in Maine.  They had plenty of time to sail North

  • Anonymous

    A ship at sea may be more safe, but NOT the crew compared to the crew on land…!!!

  • Anonymous

    It has been prominently mentioned in many stories about this incident, and on the ship’s facebook page, repeatedly, that the captain had chosen to sail “easterly”
    There is something wrong with this as if you sailed “easterly” from New London, CT you could not possibly end up 90 miles SE of Cape Hatteras, which is located roughly south southwest of New London.

    Sailing “easterly” after he left New London would have taken him around the northern fringe of the storm most likely, and it seems to me would have been a prudent course of action, if he was going to sail.
    Consciencious captains, throughout history, when caught in storms such as this one, try to sail at an angle to the movement of the storm mass, so that they encounter lesser effects of wind and high seas. No prudent captain, knowing the location of the storm, and it’s projected track, facts known to millions of people in the USA, and on the internet, would have steered his vessel on a course that would take it across the front of the largest Atlantic cyclone in  a hundred years.

    In order to end up off of Cape Hatteras, he had to sail a course that took him through/across the storm’s projected track, a very unwise decision for sure!

    The captain had years of experience at sea, including in hurricanes. He had to be aware of the risks. His crew of mostly amateurs more than likely not so aware. One wonders if he sat down with his crew and told them exactly what kind of risks they were going to be exposed to, on this voyage.

    Thanks to courageous work by members of the USCG the loss of life was low, it could have been much higher, considering what they were caught in.

  • Anonymous

    The HMS Bounty, it is always the captain, the Coast Guard should have stopped the departure, or he Captain should have remembered the old sailors wisdom, “any port in a storm.”

  • Anonymous

    I sailed for a living for about 10 years and many thousands of miles in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean.  We were stuck in a few hurricanes, but would never have intentionally headed out in one, especially one of this magnitude.  They were in CT and could have found numerous ports to seek shelter going North.  They had plenty of time.  As others have said, safely hooked up to a mooring in a protected harbor with the crew ashore would absolutely been their best bet.  Who would go out in ‘The Perfect Storm’?  We knew this storm might just be that by Thursday when they were New London. 

    Our boat’s home was Newport, RI, and we ran North a few times to avoid Bob, Gloria and a few others.  Heading away from a hurricane with a few days notice makes sense, not heading INTo it. 

    RIP to the Claudine and the good Captain.  I feel so sorry for them and their families. 

  • Anonymous

    The tragic story of the loss of the HMS Bounty has particular significance to my wife and I. Having vacationed at Boothbay Harbor Maine for the last thirty-three years, her majestic presence during many of our visits was a big part of the overall ambience drawing us to this quaint coastal community.

    Her majestic profile has been captured many times by my wife, a avid photographer. The Bounty always projected a major presence in the harbor during her many visits, thrilling thousands of tourists on sight seeing cruises leaving the harbor.

    Ironically she was in port during our most recent visit this October, leaving shortly thereafter. Another bit of irony is that our nephew, also from a coastal community in Maine not far from Boothbay, was involved in the search and rescue mission of the Bounty as a member of the USCC.

    Being a avid photographer, and frequenting NY city, many of my wife’s photos depict the skyline of the city with the twin towers proudly there as prominent unmistakable land marks, much like the masts of the Bounty do in photos of Boothbay Harbor.

    My niece was visiting from Alaska in 2000, and during her visit, my wife took her to NY city for a sightseeing tour. Of course a trip to the top of one of the twin towers was a part of their visit. Less than a year later, they were forever gone.

    As we look back and enjoy many of our fond memories through her photos, two prominent symbols towering majestically above the skyline are forever gone, captured at the time without the thought of them ever becoming involved in a cruel twist of fate, or playing a tragic role in our Nation’s history.

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