After the Mutiny

The Bounty departed from Tahiti on 4th April 1789. Twenty-four days later, 55km from Tofoa, first mate Fletcher Christian led part of the ship's crew to mutiny. Bligh and 18 crew members were cast adrift in the Bounty's launch, a 23 foot (7m) longboat. Not one of these 19 men were to ever see Fletcher Christian or the Bounty again (Coleman 1989). Bligh immediately made for Tofoa in an attempt to obtain supplies of food and water. It was here, on 3rd May 1789, they were suddenly attacked by unfriendly natives and John Norton was killed trying to free the launch's shore line for a hasty escape. After much consideration, Bligh decided to head for the Dutch settlement at Timor.

The launch sailed through the Fiji islands meeting occasional difficulties with unfriendly natives and eventually landed at Restoration Island, where they replenished food stocks. Finally, on the 12th June 1789 and after sailing some 6705km, Timor was sighted by the crew of the Bounty's launch. Two days later the boat entered the harbour at Coupang where Bligh and his crew were invited to land by the Dutch authorities. Bligh wasted no time in providing the authorities with formal statements regarding the mutiny and descriptions of the mutineers. After the men had recovered from their ordeal, Bligh negotiated the purchase of a Dutch schooner, which he renamed the Resource and, together with the Bounty's launch, sailed on 20th August to Batavia (Jakarta), the capital of the Dutch East Indies. Bligh sailed there with the intention of finding passage back to Europe. On 16th October 1789, two of the crew accompanied Bligh on the Dutch Packet Vlydte. They arrived in Portsmouth on 13th March 1790. The remaining men from the Bounty's launch were left behind in Batavia to make their own way back to England as and when passage became available.

The survival of the loyal crew was entirely the result of Bligh's seamanship and judicious command during the voyage in the launch. Only eleven, however, lived to return home (Coleman 1989; Gesner 1991).


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Last updated: Thu Mar 28 2002