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    Re: Recreating Bligh's voyage to Timor
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2010 May 28, 22:57 +0100

    Greg Rudzinski wrote, about the "re-creation" of Bligh's boat voyage-
    "I thought Capt. Bligh made his open boat voyage without a sextant or
    chart. If so then this effort to recreate the voyage does not meet the
    original conditions."
    Bligh was forbidden to take his sextant, but was allowed a Hadley quadrant
    (= octant), which for his purposes on a small boat would do just about as
    well. He wasn't allowed a chart, on which subject Bligh stated that he
    "bore away across a sea where the navigation is dangerous and but little
    known, and in a small boat 23 feet long from stem to stern, deep loaded
    with 18 souls, without a single map, and nothing but my own recollection
    and general knowledge of the situation of places adjusted by an old book of
    latitudes  and longitudes to guide me..."
    I can find no record that there was any timepiece on board, so the
    acquisition by the modern travellers of  "... two 180-year-old pocket
    watches - the only things the crew will be able to use to judge the time
    for navigation" seems somewhat inauthentic.
    The account we are offered appears to have come from a newspaper report, so
    we need to take what it says with a large pinch of salt. It's hard to see
    any relevance in the use of a modern boat that was modelled, not on
    Bounty's launch, but on a boat which made another famous rescue voyage 130
    years later, that of Shackleton and Worsley in "James Caird"in the voyage
    from Elephant Island.
    Consider these words-
    "I saw an ad in a paper in Hobart for a whale boat for sale - a 25-foot
    boat that had been built for an expedition that failed due to a capsize,"
    he says. "I bought that boat and had it rebuilt for this voyage. It took
    about a year but now it has a similar rig to the one Bligh used.
    "It is about a third of the volume of the original Bligh boat, but he had a
    crew of 18. It is a lot lighter so, even with four in it, it will be low in
    the water. It is still built on the 1800s whale boat concept,
    traditionally, with oars and a sailing rig."
    It so happens that James Caird and the Bounty's launch had almost exactly
    similar dimensions, 23 foot long by 6 foot 10 inches beam, though Caird,
    being a "double-ender" would lose out a bit in carrying capacity, compared
    with the transom-sterned launch: a block coefficient of say 0.6 compared
    with 0.7. It seems absurd to claim that the 25 foot boat used for this
    expedition has a third of the volume of Bligh's boat, and that a load of 4
    men in it compares with the 18 in the launch.
    The article refers to Bligh's  "desperate 3600-nautical-mile escape from
    Tonga to Timor", which is a fiction. Bligh was never closer to Timor than
    100 miles or so, passing well to its North. The reference to Timor relates
    to the point from which the modern expedition intended to depart, and is
    unrelated to Bligh's voyage.
    In my view we have more than enough of these re-creations and
    re-enactments, in which some modern adventurer hopes to rub off onto his
    own jaunt some of the credit that attached to a genuine achievement of the
    past. Often the similarities with the original event are contrived and
    cosmetic. We don't need to take such ego-trips too seriously.
    contact George Huxtable, at  george@hux.me.uk
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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