Eric Shackle's Column
By Eric Shackle
Bligh of the Bounty Voyage Re-enactment
Friday, April 16, 2010--
McIntyre plans to set sail on April 28, in a replica of Bligh’s 25-foot-long, 5-foot-wide. boat built by Tongan craftsmen, following the journey across the Pacific from Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga to Timor. He will begin his trip on the same day, at the same time and in the same place 221 years after Bligh's epic original mutiny journey.
McIntyre has had to make last-minute changes to his crew, because a key member of his fellow adventurers dropped out at the last minute. He has been replaced by a London university student with no sailing experience but with a burning ambition to join the expedition.
A few days ago, McIntyre said ”This trip has been a long time in the making. Flying into the Kingdom of Tonga and looking at the blue ocean, I realised it is really all happening now. We were then given the friendliest welcome that you could ever imagine. We knew certainly that we are among friends when we got here.”
McIntyre then joked that “a couple of weeks ago I had my own mutiny and lost two of my crew”, referring to the fact that two of the Talisker crew members pulled out last week citing medical reasons. Mike Perham, who holds the record as the world's Youngest Solo Circumnavigator, pulled out after having his appendix removed. Perham was replaced last week by 18 year old Christopher Wilde, of Warwick in the UK, who has no boating or sailing experience at all but simply blind passion.
It was in April 1789 that the famous ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ occurred just off the waters of the islands of Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga. The story goes that, whilst in the Pacific, the Bounty crew were attracted to the idyllic life and were angered by the (alleged) cruelty of their commanding officer William Bligh. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian and some of his followers and they tried to get Bligh to sail the Bounty back to Tahiti because they terribly missed their Tahitian mistresses. Bligh did not agree with the mutineers and he insisted they continue sailing to Australia. McIntyre added here that “someone stole the Captain’s coconuts and that cause the Mutiny”.
Fletcher Christian and his followers then cast commanding officer William Bligh and Bligh’s loyal crew adrift in a boat near Tofua Island in Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga. Whilst Fletcher and the mutineers sailed to Pitcairn Island and settled there, Bligh and his men sailed for 48 days and over an epic 4000 nautical miles from Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga to Kupang in Timor in an overloaded boat (traditionally used to lift an anchor) with little food or water and no charts.
McIntyre and the Talisker Bounty Boat crew face the same deprivations as the original crew that were cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific. Using their replica 18th century traditional open timber whale boat, they will relive Bligh’s nightmare by attempting to sail the same voyage under similar conditions with the same amount of food and water. Bligh and his crew only had 150lb of ships biscuits, 16 two pound pieces of Pork, 6 quarts of Rum, 6 Bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water.
The crew told the Tonga Visitors Bureau that they will carry 70g muesli bar, 210g baked beans, 90g ship biscuit, 2 liter water, 100g nuts, 75g raisins, 170g beef, 90g ship biscuit per person for 25 days only. They hope to catch fish, gather a supply of fruit, vegetable and coconuts in Tonga (rather than catch and eat birds) and supplement their 28 gallons of water with rain water.
A thin Wilde, who is on a mission to eat as much as possible in the next week in order to bulk up for the mission, is certainly in the right country for that. Not only are Tongans known for their inimitable sense of hospitality and musical talent, they are also known for their girth and love of feasting. McIntyre himself noted he’s purposely put on weight but expects to “loose 16kg by the end of the voyage”, adding “we will look pretty different by the end of it”.
McIntyre explained that during their voyage, the crew will monitor their health by “taking blood samples every week and undergoing psych tests”. The latter causing laugher amongst the crew who will need to deal with emotions like fears and anger and use "self awareness and communication to create a stronger team and support each other throughout the difficult times, of which their certainly will be many”.
Will they survive on of the greatest open boat journeys in Maritime History? Their odds are far higher than if they were sufferers of a motor neurone disease. The Talisker Bounty Boat 2010 Expedition are making their journey to raise funds for the Sheffield Institute for Motor Neurone Disease.
McIntyre told the Tonga Visitors Bureau (Ministry of Tourism) that his crew plan to set up their a 25ft long, 7ft wide, open wooden vessel at Royal Sunset Resort (offshore from Tongatapu). They hope to have the boat, and their satellite blog that will record their positions automatically onto Google Earth every two hours and replicate Bligh’s meticulous Log, up and running as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Stuart Kershaw, the crew's expedition cameraman, will be steadfastly working on recording as much about Tonga and its people as possible for a 4-6 part documentary on the Talisker Bounty Boat Expedition. McIntyre expects the first episode to be about when preparations and one episode to start with his arrival in Tonga and finish as he sails away from the Island of Tofua, about five days after the Mutiny took place.
Posted by ERIC SHACKLE at 9:32 PM
Editor's Note: For follow up reports on this story including a link where each crew member of this historic voyage is shown with a profile, click "Life Begins at 80 Blogspot"