Why did HMS Bounty sail into the jaws of Hurricane Sandy?
Crew thought they could dodge 'Frankenstorm' on their voyage to winter port in Florida
WHAT was the replica HMS Bounty, made famous in Hollywood movies, doing at sea yesterday when it sank off the North Carolina coast, a victim of Hurricane Sandy?
It transpires that the ship and its crew of 16 were trying to out-manoeuvre the storm as they sailed south from Connecticut for their winter port in St. Petersburg, Florida. One sailor died as the crew evacuated the drowning vessel, and her captain is still missing.
The Charlotte Observer explains that when the Bounty, originally built for the 1962 Marlon Brando film Mutiny on the Bounty, pulled out of port on Thursday, Hurricane Sandy was still over Cuba, and the crew were convinced they could cut around the storm by swinging East.
Captain and crew were well aware of the risks, says Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organisation.
By Friday, the 'Frankenstorm' had caught up with them and on Saturday the Bounty's official facebook page announced the crew were "riding out the storm" and urged anxious well-wishers to "rest assured that the Bounty safe and in very capable hands. Bounty's current voyage is a calculated decision... the fact of the matter is... A SHIP IS SAFER AT SEA THAN IN PORT!"
But crew abandoned ship in the early hours of Monday and took to the life rafts. Crew member Claudene Christian's body was found adrift some hours later. The 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge, is still the subject of a rescue search.
The mayor of St. Petersburg, Bill Foster, told the Belfast Telegraph: "When a crew decides it's safer in an inflatable than it is on deck, then you know she's in peril." As the first rescue helicopter arrived on Monday, and winched the crew from their life rafts, all but the tip of one mast was submerged.
Although the ship was built for Mutiny on the Bounty, it had gone on to appear in several documentaries and movies, including the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.