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Finally the book-HMS Bounty, Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy

by Lee Mylchreest on 9 Mar 2014
Bounty as she proudly was, and the tragic sight of her sinking SW
First there was the tragic news, then there were the innumerable opinions from the yachting fraternity, then the personal stories, then the court case and the judgement. Now, finally, there's the book. The HMS Bounty, constructed for the eponymous film, had a very public life, and now a very public death.

Rescue of the Bounty, Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy, has been written by Michael J. Tougias and Douglas A. Campbell and published by Schribner. It's the harrowing maritime tale of the sinking and rescue efforts surrounding the HMS Bounty—the actual replica used in the 1962 remake of the 1935 classic Mutiny on the Bounty—which sank during Hurricane Sandy with sixteen aboard.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2012, Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail the HMS Bounty from New London, Connecticut, to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane was forecast to come up the Eastern seaboard. He explained to his crew of fifteen that the ship would fare better at sea than at port, and that he thought he could sail 'around the hurricane.' He told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship and there would be no hard feelings. No one took the captain up on his offer.

Four days into the voyage, superstorm Sandy made an almost direct hit on the Bounty. The vessel’s pumps could not keep up with the incoming water and a few hours later, in the dark of night, the ship overturned, sending the crew tumbling into the ocean filled with crashing thirty-foot waves.

The Coast Guard launched one of most complex and massive rescues in its history, flying two Jayhawk helicopter crews into the hurricane and lowering rescue swimmers into the raging ocean again and again despite the dangers. Ultimately fourteen crew members were rescued; tragically, two members did not survive.



Dripping with suspense and vivid high-stakes drama, Rescue of the Bounty is an unforgettable tale about the brutality of nature and the human will to survive.

Tougias and Campbell also review the ship’s 50-year history, sketch the backgrounds of the sailors aboard. Relying primarily on sworn testimony from the Coast Guard’s formal investigation, the authors identify a number of factors that contributed to the disaster: a rotting hull, seams improperly caulked, inadequate bilge pumps, a largely inexperienced crew and the lack of any professional weather router.

Culpability, however, as we know from the judges comments, rested finally with Capt. Robin Walbridge and his reckless decision to set sail: 'The boat’s safer being out at sea than being buckled up at a dock somewhere.'

Notwithstanding this huge miscalculation, the authors offer a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the captain, crediting his compassionate manner and the respect and loyalty he inspired.

Finally, they devote a thrilling portion of their narrative to the courageous Coast Guard rescue and the almost incredible efforts of the pilots, hoist crews and swimmers who headed straight into Hurricane Sandy.

If your local bookseller does not have a copy of the book it is available from many resellers online, and is available as an eBook.

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