On April 29, four adventurers set sail from Tonga in a 25-foot longboat named Talisker Bounty with the hope of recreating the 4,000-mile open-boat voyage made by Capt. William Bligh following the mutiny on the Bounty. Like Bligh, the crew is sailing with limited rations and using only 18th century navigational equipment. Australian adventurer Don McIntyre is leading the international crew of four, which will be exposed to the elements for weeks on end and at risk of capsizing in any storm they encounter. The journey to Timor, Indonesia, is expected to take about 50 days.
Though Talisker Bounty's mission may sound absurd by today's standards, McIntyre said he was drawn to what he saw as the ultimate adventure. "It is a challenge that is incredibly raw, honest and open. It's just a few blokes in a boat with a bit of food and water," he said.
McIntyre's previous sailing adventures have included a solo round-the-world race and multiple trips to Antarctica. Even still, he says, "This is something I've dreamed about for 27 years." Joining him on board are Antarctic sailor David Pryce from Australia, Hong Kong businessman David Wilkinson and 18-year-old British sailor Christopher Wilde.
Before taking off from Tonga, McIntyre received a letter from Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord of the British Royal Navy, stating, "Your voyage, under the conditions which Bligh and his crew endured in 1789, serves to remind us that determined men can achieve extraordinary things."
Because of inclement weather, the boat's departure was delayed one day. Since then, reports from onboard have been surprisingly upbeat, indicating that the crew's adventuresome spirit may overpower the trials to come. Thus far they've experienced favorable weather with 10-15 knots out of the southeast and temperatures in the mid-70s. The four men seem to be getting along and divvying up duties well.
Though Talisker Bounty has a laptop, which allows them to blog, the navigation is genuinely reminiscent of Bligh. They time their anchor watches using an hourglass—a gift from the King of Tonga—and measure boatspeed with a small board and length of knotted line. After a few days living in Bligh's shoes, McIntyre reported, "Today I had a vision of Bligh and his men in their boat in this same place – not a vision that I saw, but a case of thinking of the men and the boat in living color…what they would have looked like, etc. It was all very strange and interesting."
Already, water rations have been cut from a little over 2 quarts to 1.5 quarts per day. The crew’s diet consists of limes, coconuts, beef and sea biscuits. Rations have been kept purposely sparse.
The journey of Talisker Bounty is based on the 1789 mutiny aboard the British navy ship Bounty, in which Capt. Bligh was famously cast away in a 45-foot longboat with 18 crewmembers. Bligh successfully navigated his way from Tonga to West Timor in 48 days, equipped with only 150 pounds of ship biscuits, 16 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water. He crew had no charts, no compass and no lights. Amazingly, everyone survived.
The journey of Talisker Bounty is based on a 1789 mutiny aboard the British navy ship Bounty, in which Capt. Bligh was famously cast away in a 45-foot longboat with 18 crewmembers. He successfully navigated his way from Tonga to West Timor in 48 days, equipped with only 150 pounds of ship biscuits, 16 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water. The crew had no charts, no compasses and no lights. Amazingly, everyone survived.
The Talisker Bounty crew is currently headed for Fiji. From there they'll sail to Vanuatu and Restoration Island, then turn toward Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait.