A steady mist poured from the sky that mid-June day in Maryland. Sue, Shannon, Aunt Laurie and I had been on vacation for about 9 days and it was our last day before heading north to Philadelphia to fly home. We got up at my Aunt’s house that morning, ate some breakfast and headed for Annapolis, our last tourist attraction on a trip overflowing with interesting and fun places.
I’d been to Annapolis before, but none of the girls had and so we meant to see the Naval Academy, the old town itself and soak in the historical vibe. The old statehouse showed us the spot where George Washington resigned his commission as well as the first peace-time capitol of the United States. A cannon from the 1600’s is mounted on the statehouse grounds and the storefronts and shops are beautiful.
We sauntered down to the wharf and waterfront to buy tickets for a boat tour of Annapolis Harbor and the Naval Academy. The line wasn’t long and there was a lot to see while we stood. Next to the boat on which we would ride sat the HMS Bounty at anchor. She had been in Annapolis for a couple of days doing a summer tour of the eastern seaboard and giving tours and allowing visitors on board. That day, she would sail from Annapolis to Philadelphia to allow more folks to see her.
I have a picture (that I’ll post here soon) that Aunt Laurie took of Sue, Shannon and me standing in front of it. She was built in 1962, a replica of the ship commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh of Her Majesty’s Navy. He famously lost the ship to an act of piracy committed by his first officer, Fletcher Christian and Mutiny on the Bounty has become part of the consciousness of the west. This replica was built for the Marlon Brando version of the film.
We stood and admired her lovely lines and watched people scurry about aboard her as they enjoyed the gray, cloudy and cool weather. It could have been worse, you know? June in Maryland can be pretty hot and humid. We escaped and felt lucky, more than willing to put up with a little mist.
As we finished our tour aboard the tour boat, Bounty set out under power through the harbor for her trip north to Philadelphia. She’d unfurl her sails later. On Monday, Bounty was on her way from Connecticut to Florida when she encountered Hurricane Sandy about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. She lost propulsion and foundered while taking on water. She didn’t last long, though crew members attempted to save her. They donned their neoprene orange suits and got in the water.
Unlike the Pacific, the Atlantic waters are warm, even this time of year, and it was possible that the crew members would live through the experience. Claudene Christian, 42, was one of the crew members and she was plucked from the water Tuesday. She did not survive the ordeal. 14 other crew members were rescued successfully, but the Captain, Robin Walbridge, is still missing.
I remember standing by and looking at the Bounty. I’m a fan of the story and had seen the ship in the Brando version movie, but was much more fond of the Anthony Hopkins/Mel Gibson version released in the 80’s.
Still-another tragedy in the long list of what will surely come out of the storm that hit the east coast. I’m saddened by the loss of people who I probably saw and thought nothing of last June.
“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by…”
For those in peril on the sea…