October 29, 2012
1 dead, 1 missing after Sandy sinks HMS Bounty replica
By Thane Burnett, QMI Agency
Centuries collided 145 km off the coast of Hatteras, N.C., on Monday.
Crewmember Claudene Christian, 41, died in the ocean while captain Robin Walbridge, 63, was missing after the Hollywood tall-ship replica HMS Bounty was pulled under by Hurricane Sandy.
Both were apparently wearing survival suits and life-jackets, and it was unclear how long the seasoned captain could stay alive, as a Hercules spotter plane and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter searched for him.
Two coast guard cutters were also dispatched.
Monday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard reported they found Christian unresponsive in the Atlantic and hoisted her into their helicopter.
Coast guard life-savers in two Jayhawks had earlier rescued 14 of 16 crew on Monday, after the Bounty lost power Sunday.
Video from the cockpit of one of those choppers showed survivors climbing out of lifeboats. The white-capped water rising and falling in 5.5-m waves, combined with 64 km/h winds, tossed the crew and divers around.
As a rescue diver wrapped a sling around survivors, the Jayhawk’s sensors warned the pilots just above: 'Altitude. Altitude."
The sophisticated helicopter rescue was a remarkable backdrop to the last moments of a ship that, while built in Nova Scotia in 1960, was a throwback to an era where a rescue at sea was unlikely.
The three-mast, 55-m-long wooden ship, built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty and featured in countless high seas adventure films including the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, was apparently making a run from New London, Conn., to St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tracie Simonin, director of the Bounty told Reuters she wasn’t sure how the captain had tried to navigate the hurricane.
The coast guard reported the mast of the ship was all that was above water Monday afternoon.
Movie legend has it the ship was supposed to be set on fire in Mutiny on the Bounty, but was saved.
Ralph Getson, curator of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in the Bounty’s homeport of Lunenburg, N.S., said few thought it would survive so long.
It was built out of mixed woods rather than stubborn hearts of oak.
“The builders here were very proud of her,” he said.
Shipwright Gerald Zwicker doesn’t have many regrets in his 76 years. But not sailing away on the Bounty is one.
He helped build her.
On Monday, his thoughts were with the sailor who was not found in time and the captain still lost on the water.
And he also mourned his ship.
Over the years, he built scallop draggers and a freighter, but points out: “The Bounty meant more to me than all those – they were just boats.”
When a producer on the original movie told the men who built the Bounty, if anyone wanted to crew her they could, Zwicker says he always regretted not going.