Thursday, February 25, 2010

Re-enacting Bligh's epic voyage when set adrift after the Bounty mutiny

One of the greatest tales of epic seamanship is soon to be retraced as 4 virtual strangers set sail in April 2010, re-enacting the 4000 mile journey forced upon Captain Bligh when Fletcher Christian led the Mutiny of the Bounty 221 years ago:

This is better than reality TV. In a tiny boat, these intrepid seamen will sail from Tonga to Kupang, living off no more than what Bligh and his loyal crew had at the time (400 grams per day), using navigation technology dating back more than 2 centuries. No GPS, just sextants and octants, a sailor's almanac and whatever Bligh was able to scavenge moments before he was set adrift.

The team leader, Don McIntyre, is well known in Australia as an adventurer par excellence. A solo round-the-world yachtsman himself, he's spent a year alone surviving in the Antarctic and was once named Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year. The Second in Command is a mere 18 years old, but has experience to boot. Mike Perham from the UK became the youngest person ever to sail round the world solo in 2009. They complement third crewman David Wilkinson, an ex-pat Brit now living in Hong Kong, with 53 year old American Peter Stier hailing from Minnesota.

The seven week expedition aboard the Boat – a 25ft long, 7ft wide, open wooden vessel – will subsequently see the crew face the same deprivations as the original crew that were cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific, including no luxuries such as torches or toilet paper. Will they survive the hunger? The elements? The fatigue? Each other?

But it's all for a good cause. Don and his crew are also attempting to raise over $250,000 for The Sheffield Institute Foundation for Motor Neurone Disease (SIF) which is building the world’s first research Institute into Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.