Bligh's Return

By Bennett, James J. | Sea Classics, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Bligh's Return


Bennett, James J., Sea Classics


In a magnificent feat of seamanship and navigational skill, the impeached captain of HMS Bounty defied the elements and sailed his crowded open boat and handful of loyal Jack Tars nearly 3000 miles across the empty Pacific

This is the story of Capt. Bligh and 17 mariners, and their courageous voyage of 4000 miles in an open boat. In 1787, ten years following the murder of Capt. Cook by the natives of Hawaii, the government was persuaded to explore the south Pacific islands, particularly to transport the breadfruit tree to Jamaica and plant it there to feed the large black slave population working in the sugar plantations.

When fitted out, the good ship Bounty sailed in command of Lt. William Bligh who had been one of Cook's officers. The trip to Tahiti was long and arduous. But after five months in Tahiti, the Bounty's holds were filled with tropical trees and shrubs and the ship hove anchor and sheeted topsails to roll out homeward bound. By this time, the crew were reluctant to leave languorous Tahiti and the unspoiled, brown-skinned women who were as kind as they were beautiful, to endure the bitter toil and tyranny that were the mariner's lot. The ship wasn't long at sea before Bligh's autocratic nature caused contention in the forecastle and among groups of seamen who loafed and whispered on deck during the dog-watches. One incident is reminiscent of the fictitious Capt. Queeg and the steel balls. Boatswain's mate James Morrison kept a diary in which he noted that Bligh missed some of his own personal coconuts, which had been stowed between the guns. The irate commander questioned Fletcher Christian, the master's mate, who indignantly protested: "I do not know who took your coconuts, sir, but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of pilfering them."

Bligh, now furious, snapped at Christian: "Yes, you hound, I do; you must have stolen them from me, or you would be able to give a better account of them. You are all thieves, you scoundrels, and the officers combine with the men to rob me. I suppose you will steal my yams next, but I'll make you sweat for it, you rascals, if I have to make half of you jump overboard before we get through Endeavor Straits."

It was only a day after the coconut episode that Fletcher Christian led the now famous rebellion of the Bounty. He was a leader of extraordinary intelligence and character who had always lived a godly life. But Lt. Bligh had provoked him beyond endurance, and he was persuaded to lead the mutineers to a South Seas paradise.

Apparently, no inkling of the conspiracy was conveyed to the quarter-deck, and Bligh wrote after the event: "The women of Tahiti are handsome, mild, and cheerful in manners and conversation, possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people that they rather encouraged them to stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these circumstances it ought hardly to be the subject of surprise that a set of sailors, most of them without home ties, should be led away where they had the power of fixing themselves in the midst of plenty and where there was no necessity to labor and where the allurements to dissipation are beyond any conception that can be formed of it. The utmost, however, that a commander could have expected was desertions, such as have always happened more or less in the South Seas, and not this act of open mutiny, the secrecy of which was beyond belief."

At sunrise of 28 April 1789, Bligh and 17 loyal mariners were bundled overside into a small, undecked ship's yawl only 23-ft long. The coat was outfitted with twine, canvas, cordage, an 28-gal cask of water, 150-lb of bread or ship's biscuit, little rum and wine, some salt pork and beef, a quadrant, a compass, and four cutlasses for arms. In the boat, beside Lt. Bligh, were the master, the acting surgeon, botanist, gunners, boatswain, carpenter, mates, two quartermasters, the sail-maker, two cooks, and a boy.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bligh's Return
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.