PxPixel
Book Review: The Sinking of the Bounty - Sail Magazine

Book Review: The Sinking of the Bounty

If you Google HMS Bounty, the now-perished tall ship’s website, tallshipbounty.org, still appears as the fifth search result with a description of the historic vessel underneath. Click on the link though, and you’re led to a blank white page. It’s an eerie reminder of the tragic events that led to the Bounty’s sinking during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
Author:
Publish date:
beccabook

If you Google HMS Bounty, the now-perished tall ship’s website, tallshipbounty.org, still appears as the fifth search result with a description of the historic vessel underneath. Click on the link though, and you’re led to a blank white page. It’s an eerie reminder of the tragic events that led to the Bounty’s sinking during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

The Sinking of the Bounty, by Matthew Shaer, chronicles the days, hours and even minutes of the tall ship’s and her crew’s losing battle with the destructive superstorm. The book is available only in e-book form on Atavist.com, and its 21 pages include a variety of interactive multimedia to enhance readers’ experience of the ship’s demise. Coast Guard video footage of crew rescues and embedded links to photos, diagrams, maps, a timeline of events, definitions of sailing terms and short character biographies scattered throughout the text make sure readers never miss a beat of this complicated and captivating tragedy.

The Bounty was an enlarged replica of the 1787 Royal Navy sailing ship HMS Bounty. Her construction was commissioned for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando. The original 18th century naval vessel was the setting of an uprising in 1789 that eventually led to the ship’s destruction in 1790. The replica ship was to be burned after filming ended, but Brando reportedly threatened to walk off the set and not finish the movie under those circumstances.

And so, the Bounty survived until her last voyage in October 2012, undergoing a number of restorations in her tumultuous life.

Shaer captures the fight for survival aboard a doomed-from-the-start ship, won by 10 crew members and tragically lost by two, captain Robin Waldbridge and crew member Claudene Christian, in heartbreaking detail that makes the book an emotional read. Shaer writes about volunteer engineer Doug Faunt’s decision about which of his possessions to save before abandoning ship:

“He dashed back to his cabin and took a quick inventory. He wouldn’t be able to bring much with him—he was going to lose his bicycle, most of his clothing, his radio gear, his books. In the end, he settled on his rescue and his teddy bear, Mush, which he strapped to his chest.”

Shaer includes suspenseful dialogue and firsthand accounts from all involved with the ship, including crewmembers that experienced the storm and shipyard workers who had encountered the Bounty over the years.

There’s plenty of speculation about why Bounty’s longtime captain Robin Walbridge, known for his intense dedication to the ship, sailed right into the worst of Sandy. In the book, Shaer intersperses background and analyses but never comes to any conclusions, and that’s the way it should be. The mystery surrounding the Bounty is complex, sensitive, and controversial, and Shaer explains it as best as anyone can. 

Related

Josie-helm-2

Chartering the U.S. and Spanish Virgins

Flying into Tortola in the British Virgin Islands one December morning, three months after Hurricane Irma, I felt like a war correspondent dispatched to the battlefront rather than a sailing magazine writer on an assignment to go cruising.As my LIAT plane descended toward Beef ...read more

Crew-North-27M004

Weather Gear for Inshore Sailing

Just because you’re not planning on braving the Southern Ocean this summer doesn’t mean that you won’t have some dicey days out on the water. If you haven’t got the right gear, a little rain or humidity can make things miserable. As with all safety equipment, “it’s always better ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

3DiNordac_webheader

3Di NORDAC: One Year In

One year ago this month, North Sails launched a cruising revolution with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC. The product promised to deliver a better cruising experience for a market that had not seen true product innovation in over 60 years. Today we’re celebrating the team that ...read more

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more