Friday, March 05, 2010

Being unfair to Captain Bligh

An American naval officer is called a female Captain Bligh.

Captain Bligh got a bum rap.

When the Bounty arrived in Tahiti in 1788, the breadfruit trees had to be seeded and grown into saplings large enough for transport, a process that would take at least six months. Contrary to popular opinion, Bligh was the sort of man who wanted his crew to be happy, so instead of sailing the South Pacific exploring and mapping, he decided to give his men six months of shore leave in paradise. In hindsight, it was the biggest mistake of his life.

Many, if not most, of the men had formed deep attachments with the islanders during their long layover, and were quite naturally reluctant to leave when the time came. The mutiny is well documented and even fictionalized extensively. The part of the story that few people know about is what happened after the Captain and his men were cast adrift. With nineteen men in a single longboat, very few supplies, his log books and navigational tools, Commander Lieutenant Bligh was able to navigate almost 6000 kilometres (3700 Miles) across the Pacific, to finally make landfall at the island of Timor. This staggering feat of precision navigation was accomplished with no loss of life....
Sir Joseph Banks defended William Bligh to the Admiralty, and believed in Bligh so much he insisted that the newly promoted Bligh lead the return expedition to Tahiti and finish what he had started.

William Bligh went on to have a long and relatively distinguished career in the British Navy, despite the fact that the family of his former colleague, Fletcher Christian, did their level best to discredit him. In particular Edward Christian, Fletcher's brother, who went to great lengths to alter public opinion.

Ht to Instapundit.


airforcewife said...

I didn't know any of this. Fascinating.

miriam said...

I learn something new every day. God bless the internet.