Monday, July 27, 2015

Evanston: THE BOUNTY and the Chicago Cubs; a really small boat

        I have not sailed much this year, and I won’t much more.  For the eight weeks I will be on GANNET starting in early September I have no ambitions beyond Whangamumu only twenty five miles from GANNET’s mooring.  Almost all of you who own boats will sail more than I in 2015.  But like Cubs fans for more than a century, I hope and wait for next year.  
        Time and chance permitting, GANNET and I will sail at least 9,000 miles in 2016 and maybe 10,000, crossing at least 140º of longitude.
        That I measured our track on electronic charts the other evening is one sign I am getting restless.  I miss being on the water and GANNET, and I miss not settling into the rhythms of a long ocean passage.  
        Another sign of restlessness is that I again watched THE  BOUNTY, the 1984 Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins version of the mutiny, just to see the sea.
        I had thought this the third BOUNTY movie, after Charles Laughton and Clark Gable in 1935 and Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard in 1962, but Wikipedia notes two early Australian films, a silent one in 1916, a second starring Errol Flynn in 1932. 
        I’ve seen the three most famous versions and know the story well.  I’ve sailed to French Polynesia seven times and Tahiti six, more than enough to recognize that the 1984 version was filmed with Moorea as a background, not neighboring Tahiti.  I’ve sailed over the spot where the mutiny took place off the Tonga islands of Tofua and Kao three or four times, including last year in GANNET; and past Restoration Island where Bligh and crew reached land off the northern Queensland coast three times in three different boats and expect to again next year in GANNET.
        In the British Museum in London on a raw winter’s day in 1983 I saw a copy of Captain Cook’s Journal open to an entry about Huahine, another of the Society Islands, and I thought about how different the weather and life are there than in London; add the poverty of sailors in England compared to the way they were treated by the Tahitians, particularly the sexual freedom in Tahiti versus the repression in England; add whatever quirks in Fletcher Christian’s character to provide a leader; and I do not wonder that there was mutiny.  Despite Charles Laughton, Capt. Bligh was not a flogging captain by the standards of his time, and he was an outstanding seaman, esteemed by Capt. Cook, and as proven by his sailing the 23’ BOUNTY launch with seventeen other men 4,000 miles from the site of the mutiny to Kupang, on present day Timor, then the nearest European outpost.
        I like THE BOUNTY.  There are some beautifully shot images at sea, and I particularly like the score by Vangelis.  THE BOUNTY can be streamed from Netflix.  I think I’ll watch the Charles Laughton and Marlon Brando films again too, which can be rented from iTunes.  But they won’t be enough.
        Wait till next year!


       Dave Skaife has reached Biloxi, Mississippi, about the half way point of his intended cruise along the Gulf Coast in his 14’ Paradox, and has posted a photo on his site that shows how small the boat is.  The photo is in the entry headed “Biloxi” and dated July 26.  Click on it to make it full size, then lean forward.