Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy 'Bounty' Day!

Know what today is?

If you lived on Pitcairn Island, you would.

It's the annual celebration of the day Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers, along with their Tahitian male and female companions, torched their ship, after salvaging everything they could, then let her sink.

Yep, that Fletcher Christian of "Mutiny on the Bounty."

We don't know for sure what he looked like -- no drawings, after all. But he was described as being dark with darker skin. (And, on a romantic note, with very sweaty hands, according to his former boss, William Bligh.)

     But probably not like Clark Gable.

The mutiny happened on April 28, 1789 on the English royal warship HMS Bounty. Why did it happen? Well, it depends on which source you go with. According to the commander, William Bligh, it was South Seas indolence, laissez faire and S-E-X. According to the mutineers, it was because Bligh treated everyone so badly.

     My guess: it was both.

At any rate, the mutineers were successful -- and forced Bligh and his men (some had to be left behind, for lack of room) into a small 23-foot boat. Amazingly, they reached land 47 long, tortuous days later.

Bligh doesn't lookt too thrilled about it, either

After returning to Tahiti, and trying to settle (unsuccessfully) on other islands, Fletcher Christian, along with eight sailors, 6 Tahitian men and 18 women, plus a baby, found Pitcairn Island on Jan. 15, 1790. They burned the boat on the 23rd. Even today, some of the Bounty's fittings (particularly its ballast stones) are visible through the clear water of the island.

Christian didn't hang around too long. Some accounts have him murdered in an island slugfest for power in 1793; others say he took the ship's extra boat (a launch) and made it to England. (One of his old friends swore he saw Christian on a city street there decades later -- though Christian took to his heels when recognized.) At any rate, he, as well as all but one of the mutineers, was gone by the time the Topaz pulled into Pitcairn's harbor in 1808. (The sailors who stayed on Haiti didn't do as well -- they were picked up in 1790 by the search ship Pandora, sent for just that purpose, and brought back to England for trial.)

For the full report, visit here.  

Fletcher Christian still has descendants on the island -- in fact, one of his umpteen-great-grandsons, Tom Christian, just died in 2013.

Thanks to Wikipedia for these photos and drawings

So... Happy 'Bounty' Day! Feel free to sink a ship or two to celebrate.

A replica of the Bounty - and a nice one, at that

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