From Jake Beattie, Executive Director of the Northwest Maritime Center.
The Bounty that sank on Monday was my first ship. In ’98 and ’99 I was a $50-a-week deckhand turned engineer, turned first mate. I was the last First Mate before the Bounty left Fall River, and the last time the Bounty tried to sink off of Hatteras, I was in the engine room up to my chest in bilge water, rebuilding pumps to buy us time until the Coast Guard arrived. We were luckier that day.
I was there for the ’99 season, the Bad News Bears season, full of some of the best people I have ever met. I fell in love, fell in love again, and in the end fell in love with the power of the sea as a way to educate people, transform them into the confident and capable people they always were. What I do today I do because of what I was a part of on Bounty, because Robin Walbridge helped me see it. I’m not alone. People from the ’99 crew – just one year of many Robin helped along – have become captains and pilots, USCG officers, educators and executives. And even though doing the math I am shocked to learn that it was 14 years ago when I stepped aboard, I still feel closer to that crew than to most other folks I have met since.
When I left Bounty we were out of money for payroll, out of money for Bondo and duct tape. After downrigging to the lowers with a skeleton crew of four people too stubborn to leave, the last thing I did in the winter of ’99 was to put the bilge pumps on a timer, install a lock on the companionway, and walk away with tears in my eyes. I’ve got them again. Rest in peace, Bounty.