Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aye Aye... It's Captain Bligh

A four-man crew is preparing to set sail from Tonga in a 25ft open timber boat, recreating the epic voyage taken by Captain William Bligh after he was cast adrift by mutineers on the HMS Bounty in 1798.

The four man crew plans to cast off for the 4,400-nautical mile journey on April 28, exactly 221 years after Capt Bligh and 18 loyal sailors were abandoned off the Tongan island of Tofua.

Sailing in a 25ft (7.6m) open-deck boat with two small sails, they are hoping to sail from Tonga to West Timor in seven weeks.

The expedition has tried hard to recreate the conditions which confronted the Royal Navy captain.

Memorialised in two Hollywood films as well as novels and poems, the mutiny on the Bounty unfolded in 1789 when William Bligh was cast adrift in the South Pacific by his rebellious crew.

Accompanied by 18 men, Bligh managed to sail from near Tonga to West Timor in a voyage that lasted almost 50 days.

He survived by catching fish and drinking rain water.

Capsize fears

Australians Don McIntyre and David Bryce, Hong Kong businessman David Wilkinson and 18-year-old British gap year student Christopher Wilde are trying to recreate the epic voyage in their own open-top sailing boat.

From Tonga they will head west to Fiji, Vanuatu and Restoration Island before sailing north to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, then through the Torres Strait to West Timor.

To add to the authenticity of the voyage the adventurers are trying to get close to the provisions which Captain Bligh had on board - ship biscuits, pork, over 100 litres of water and six bottles of wine.

Like Bligh, they will not be using any modern-day navigational systems such as charts, compass or lights.

The main difference is that their boat is only about half the size of Bligh's vessel and their biggest fear is the danger of capsizing.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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