Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Remembering the HMS Bounty and Captain Robin Walbridge

Captain Robin Walbridge (on the right) with Pam Thomas, Operations Manager of Singer Castle at the time.

HMS Bounty docked at Dark Island.
(Click on photos to see them larger)
See more images below.

She came into view as we rounded Cedar Island on our way from the Chippewa Bay dock to Dark Island.  Arguably one of the most identifiable of the tall ships sailing today sat tied up at our main dock.  The “HMS Bounty” had come to call at Singer Castle.  Avid sailor that he was, Frederick Bourne would have loved her, all 180’ majestic feet from bowsprit to stern as much as we did.   

After summering on the Great Lakes the “Bounty” was once again on her way back down the St. Lawrence toward Montreal and then on to her home port for the winter season.  On that particular September day the crew and passengers sailing on the Bounty had a chance to be tourists instead of being the “tourist attraction.”  They would get to tour a castle in the 1000 Islands.  

While the crew and passengers toured the castle, Captain Robin invited castle staff members aboard the Bounty.  Our visit began with us climbing up the side of the ship to reach the main deck with the aid of ropes and for some of us a small ladder.  We saw all levels of the ship including the engine room, galley and cabins.  On the main deck stood the ship’s wheel -- the same wheel had been used on the ships in all of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” movies and during the shooting of “The Pirates of the Caribbean.”  We could imagine Captain Bly or Captain Jack Sparrow steering her over the waves with the sails billowing in the wind.  

Captain Robin Walbridge was a warm and gracious host – it was clear that he loved his ship and his life sailing on the Bounty.  At the end of the visit all of us urged him to stop again the next time he sailed the St. Lawrence.  Sadly Captain Robin Walbridge and the HMS Bounty will not be coming our way again….  On Monday, October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy claimed the life of [Claudene Christian and left] the captain and his majestic ship lost at sea. [They are still searching for Capt. Walbridge.] [11/1/12 update. Sadly, the Coast Guard search for the Capt. has been suspended.]
Above notice received directly from Jean Papke, Administrative Assistant to the President of Singer Castle on Dark Island, Tom Weldon.

Patty and I (Bob) have visited the magnificent HMS Bounty on the St. Lawrence River and saw the dedicated crew at work. Our hearts go out to the families of Captain Robin Walbridge and Claudene Christian who also perished in this tragic event.

Above, Bob Mondore and the HMS Bounty, St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg NY- June 2010
Above, poster of 1962 movie: Mutiny on the Bounty. Fletcher Christian's name is listed directly under Marlon Brando's name in fine print.

Astonishingly, the late Claudene Christian was a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian who led the Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 and was played by Marlon Brando in the 1962 film which featured this very replica ship which took her life during Hurricane Sandy.
Claudine Christian on the Bounty, from her Facebook page.

For updates on all things regarding ships on the St. Lawrence River, I hardily recommend Mike Folsom's The Ship Watcher Blog.