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    Re: Recreating Bligh's voyage to Timor
    From: Douglas Denny
    Date: 2010 May 30, 11:51 -0700

    In reply to the last post of piterr11---com
    Re. The Bounty Mutiny:

    You seem to me to be deliberately obtuse in taking a line of argument that has been used against Bligh ever since the mutiny; and you are thus trying to justify the unjustifiable i.e. that it was somehow Bligh's fault that the mutiny occurred. There is _never_ an excuse for mutiny.

    As they still say in the British Navy when things get tough: "you shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke!"

    The crew signed up for the voyage fully knowing the kind of conditions they were to expect at sea and on the voyage (harsh), and that captains were not necessarly going to be all kindness and light!
    It turned out things were not the best to start with in terms of crew either; that food was bad; the surgeon was a total drunkard (and died on the trip); the master of the vessel was of poor stuff that Bligh did not trust him with the vessel's safety; etc.
    In those days it was not even expected that you would return at all as death was around every corner on a long voyage. They knew all that perfectly well, as all sailors of that time did - and accepted it.

    I do not see what relevance later events in Bligh's life have to do with the immediate circumstances of the mutiny long before. Bligh might have been inadequate in some ways with man-management, but that does not excuse a mutiny. Further, there were far harsher captains and ships in the Navy at that time but no mutinies. It was because of the Bounty mutiny that Marines were placed on all British Navy ships to protect the officers from mutiny thereafter. That suggests the quality of crew on His Majesty's vessels was not of particularly high or trustworthy calibre and the Navy responded to that.

    All military personel of the time (as now, though with a different set of rules) signed their name to the Articles of War (which you can read in the source I gave.
    They knew that mutiny was a crime which was punishable by death. Two of the crew were hanged by the neck until dead for it - which proves the point really, which is - at that time life was harsh on land and at sea (moreso on land often, and the sea gave a relatively cushy job to be had).. they knew the rules; they have no excuse: two of them paid the penalty.

    The official ruling of the court martial exonerated Bligh completely.

    It seems clear to me that what happened is most likely what Bligh thought and expressed:- that the unusually pleasant circumstances of the island, i.e. the climate; and the fraternising of the crew with the natives [especially women :-) ] led to their not wishing to go back to harsh Navy discipline and cold, wet dismal England aboard a ship at the conclusion of the mission on the island. Bligh's error if any, in my opinion, was to allow too much 'goodwill' towards his crew by allowing too many of them, too much shore leave to do the work associated with the breadfruit plant management, instead of making it a privilege to go ashore. In other words he should have imposed a strict rota system.

    The film version with Anthony Hopkins as William Bligh and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Cristian is, I think, probably as close to a portrayal of the truth as we shall get. It was a very good film even if it is not what actually happened: and it is this latter point - that we do not know exactly what happened - which makes the whole story so intriguing.

    Douglas Denny.
    Chichester. England.
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