National Geographic : 1957 Dec
I Fou n d the Bones of the Bounty "H'ist hah shrodes higher!" called the cap tain, and the men hauled on the shrouds to tauten them. Left to themselves, the islanders conversed in Pitcairnese. Though difficult for an out sider to understand at first, this was not nearly so unintelligible as I had expected. They used many nautical terms, and the accent was some what like that of parts of the West Indies. As we drove toward the island, with the lee rail well down, my neighbor on the crowded thwart said: "It's darking." Night does not really fall; it rises, starting at the water's edge and suffusing upward like ink creeping up a blotter. The man thumped a crate of my air tanks. "I heardsay you gwen dive in Bounty Bay." I admitted it. "Man," he said, "you gwen be dead as hatchet!" Why a hatchet should be deader than a doornail, or anything else, I never found out, but it signifies utter extinction. Boat Rides Combers into Bounty Bay As we approached the shore, the darkening island grew taller; the recumbent lion was slowly getting to his feet. In the half light I could see a line of white breakers ahead. Stark against the sky a pinnacle of rock rose 700 feet-Ship Landing Point. At its base lay the rocky cove called Bounty Bay. At the captain's shouted "Down sail!" the canvas came down with a rush, and the mast was unstepped. We waited just outside the surf while the captain, holding a long steer ing sweep, scanned the breakers ahead. The 14 rowers lay on their oars, not even turn ing their heads, until a particularly high wave lifted us and then let us slide down its back. "Pull ahead!" cried the captain, and the long oars bent as they dipped in unison. We shot forward as a big sea rose under our stern. The men pulled like demons, keeping just ahead of the roller. At express-train speed we rushed past three black rocks on the port hand, entered a narrow channel of calmer water, then slowed and gently bumped against a sloping grid of logs and planks (page 739). Ready hands seized the bows of the boats as lanterns bobbed at the head of the wooden slide. Several men from our boat jumped into the waist-deep water and started to hand crates and bundles ashore. One presented his broad back to me, said "Ready, mate?" and Beginning of an Epic Voyage: Captain Bligh Is Cast Adrift On the morning of April 28, 1789, acting mate Fletcher Christian and other Bounty crew members seized and bound Bligh and forced him into the ship's launch. Eighteen loyal officers and men went with him. The mutineers grudgingly granted them some bread and water, a little pork, compass and quadrant, and four cutlasses. The 23-foot boat was so overloaded that she had only 7 inches of freeboard. Bligh, a master navigator, accomplished the incredi ble feat of sailing 3,618 nautical miles across the Pacific to the friendly Dutch settlement at Timor. For 41 days he fought starvation, thirst, pitiless sun, and the cruel sea itself. His feat remains the world's most celebrated open-boat voyage. This old print was published in London in 1790. The artist shows breadfruit trees in tubs fastened to the taffrail. Actually they were kept in the great cabin. Gleeful crewmen soon cast them overboard.