Farewell, HMS Bounty: A Letter from the NWMC Executive Director

HMS BOUNTY, lost along with two crew including Captain Robin Walbridge in Hurricane Sandy.

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.

~Jake Beattie

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