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    Re: K2 on the Bounty
    From: Don Seltzer
    Date: 2013 Jul 20, 13:33 -0700

    William Hawes wrote:

    Not quite sure why a British "tabloid" would be serving up an article about a chronometer and I'm also not sure it is totally factually correct. Nevertheless a bit of an interesting read.


    I think the answer is to be found in the Navlist archives. Various forum members have posted in the last few months about the Univ of Cambridge project to digitize the papers of the Board of Longitude, including a heads-up of the formal debut on July 18.

    For the media reporters attending, particularly a tabloid like the Daily Mail, it must have been perplexing to find an angle to interest the general reader. The 'hook' turned out to be a few brief pieces of correspondence. First there were acknowledgments signed by William Bligh in 1787 for the receipt of K2 and a few other navigational aids on the eve of the Bounty's sailing. Then there was a letter two years later reporting the loss of the K2 time-keeper through piracy.

    The Daily News and the Times of London both decided to play up this aspect as the main story. There is the suggestion that during the mutinous uprising, Bligh's chief concern was retaining the chronometer, as though he was personally on the hook financially for its return.

    I interpret the correspondence differently. The 1787 acknowledgement of receipt has an air of annoyance, pointing out to the Board that he has been busy preparing his ship for a multiyear expedition these past weeks and waiting for favorable winds, and yes he does have the books and compass and artificial horizon, and they can find the receipt with Mr Kendall.

    The letter reporting the loss two years later is characterized as apologetic by the Daily Mail and sheepish by the Times. Again I disagree. Bligh had recently completed the greatest open boat journey in the history of the world, he was the story of the day and a hero in England, and he had a few days earlier been honorably acquitted of any blame in the loss of his ship. He must have rolled his eyes at the letter from the bean counter at the Board asking him what happened to K2. He exhibited great restraint in limiting his reply to the bald statement that the timekeeper was lost when his ship was pirated from him.

    Don Seltzer
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