“Pride, Envy, Avarice; these are the sparks that have set on fire the hearts of all men.” – Dante Alighieri
In 1787 the HMAV Bounty set sail to Tahiti to collect breadfruit saplings to provide cheap food for slaves in the West Indies. Under the command of William Bligh, the crew spent many months traveling to, and living in Tahiti.
The voyage of the Bounty, which would be its last, would go down in the annals of history as a turbulent story of betrayal, brutality, murder, mutiny and vengeance; the effects of which can still be seen today.
Far removed from the drizzle, cold and prudishness of England, Tahiti was a tropical paradise of delicious fruits, crystal lagoons, and sexual freedom. After five months of living with such freedom, and subjected to the prospect of sailing under the strict disciplinarian William Bligh, a portion of the crew –led by the young Christian Fletcher- mutinied, setting Bligh and several others adrift on the ship’s launch.
Whilst Bligh set out on one of the most famous and arduous open-boat voyages in the age of sail, the mutineers settled variously on Tahiti, and the small improperly-charted island of Pitcairn.
Of the men who mutinied, some offered their services as mercenaries to tribal chiefs, others tried to escape the island and surrender themselves to the authorities, some tried to integrate with the Tahitians.
Of those who sailed with Bligh, some died of disease and exposure, others made it back to England, and some sought revenge on those who had forced them adrift.
These are the stories of the men on that voyage; those that lived, those that died, those that mutinied, those that were kidnapped, and those that spent the rest of their lives in isolation, hiding from the vengeful hammer of the British Navy. Continue reading