One of the main problems facing the inhabitants of the British colonies in the 18th Century was the complete dependence on the mother country for supplies. Thanks to James Cook, the breadfruit tree had been discovered years before, and it was shown that an edible flower could be produced from the fruits. The British Admiralty came up with the idea of transporting and transplanting these plants so that a large scale cultivation would provide the colonies with primary subsistence. To carry out this project a 230- Ton sailing ship name Bethia was chosen in May 1787. Its hull was reinforced and masts and fittings modified and adapted to the transport of saplings of the breadfruit tree. On June 8, 1787, this ship was registered in the List of the Royal navy under the name of Bounty. The honor of command was given to ship’s lieutenant William Bligh, an officer who had served and matured under the command of the James Cook.
In December 1787, the Bounty set sail from the port of London. Bligh tried in vain to pass Cape Horn, deciding finally to set sail for Tahiti via orient. In April, the Bounty finally passed the Cape of Good Hope and six months later dropped anchor in Matavai Bay. It was October 26, 1788. The first leg of the trip almost 10 months.
A voyage as long as this one can only have had a negative effect on the crew’s morale. In this era, the living conditions aboard ship for the sailors were severe; discipline was ironclad and maintained with the whip. The sailors themselves were often violent and quarrelsome and sometimes even conscripted against their will.
Bligh was the typical British officer and his military training was fit for these adversities. For this reason perhaps, after five months in a natural paradise replete with food and amusement, the crew prepared to depart reluctantly, knowing well what life awaited them on board. When the plants were all loaded under the direction of Senior Gardener Mr David Nelson, the captain once again gave the order to set sail. But after only 24 days, part of the crew mutinied under the command of coxwain Fletcher Christian, and took control of the ship. Captain Bligh was placed in a lifeboat together with the men remaining faithful to him, and the mutineers on the Bounty turned back to Tahiti. Bligh navigated for 4000 miles and after innumerable hardships arrived safely to the island of Timor, where he reported the crime to the British authorities.
The Bounty meanwhile, had left a part of the crew on Tahiti and had reached Pitcairn Island, where Fletcher Christian had the ship burned. The sailors who had chosen to Tahiti were soon captured by the frigate Pandora, sent purposely by order of the Admiralty.
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