By Ashley Thompson
A Bishopville man says a piece of his heart will forever belong to the lost at sea HMS Bounty.
Randy Carey learned how to sail a tall ship while he was posted on the Bounty replica for two years in the mid-80s, under the direction of Captain Hugh Boyd.
“He was our mentor and like a father to us all on the ship,” Carey said in a phone interview from Fort McMurray, AB.
The world-renowned replica vessel was crafted in Lunenburg in 1960 for use in the filming of the 1962 motion picture, Mutiny on the Bounty.
Boyd, a native of Dartmouth, served as an original crewman on the Bounty, along with Hantsport’s Wayne Dewar, a cousin of Carey’s who worked as Marlon Brando’s double in Mutiny on the Bounty, and returned to Nova Scotia after marrying a Tahitian actress featured in the film.
When Carey landed on the decks of the Bounty, he functioned as a bosun, rigger, tour guide and cocktail party host aboard a floating advertisement for MGM Studios and other companies owned by Ted Turner.
But the Bounty was much more than that for Carey.
“I say she had soul, and once you became part of her, it became part of your life.”
Carey belonged to a close-knit crew, navigating theBounty through the Great Lakes,Eastern seaboard andGulf of Mexicoas part of a promotional tour, hitting 80 cities in a year and a half.
“She still had Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on the back of her then, and I was quite proud to sail on it. She’s a beautiful ship and although a lot of people don’t know this about the Bounty, she’s a great ambassador for the province of Nova Scotia.”
In 1995, Carey found himself aboard the Bounty once more, sailing the ship from its former home in Fall River, Massachusetts to the 250th anniversary of the Fortress of Louisbourg.
“We learned to look after her. We were in some storms with it and if you looked after her, she looked after you.”
Carey was working in Fort McMurray when he heard the rough waters and high winds generated by hurricane Sandy forced a 16-member crew sailing the Bounty off the coast of North Carolina to abandon ship Oct. 29.
Rescue crews scouring the Atlantic Ocean eventually found the body of missing deckhand, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, but the search for Captain Robin Walbridge, 63, was suspended after four days of no discovery.
A wave washed Christian and Walbridge overboard before they could make it to a life raft. The survivors were transported to shore via helicopter.
Carey says a tall ship “works herself really heavy at sea” because of the height of the masts, and it would be extremely difficult to steer an old wooden ship through such a severe storm.
“I’m deeply disheartened… it’s been a sad week for me up here… cause she was a big part of my life.”
Carey’s wife, Cathy, has her own stories to tell about the Bounty.
In 1999, Cathy took on the arduous task of finding a new buyer to assume ownership of, and repair, what remained of the Bounty.
“She was languishing at the dock,” said Cathy, who noted that the weathered ship was taking on water due to “serious rot.”
I thought my job was done, but I guess with that ship it never is, because once she gets etched on your heart and soul, you’re done. - Cathy Carey
In an attempt to find someone with pockets deep enough to refurbish the Bounty, Cathy put pen to paper, crafting articles about the ship for any publication willing to run them.
An American buyer stepped up in February 2001, paid for the extensive repairs necessary to make the Bounty seaworthy and, by 2005, the ship was back in business — on the water and the big screen, as part of Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest.
Cathy was aboard the Bounty one last time when it was docked in the Halifax Harbour as part of the Halifax Tall Ships Festival this summer.
“I was happy to see that she was finally being looked after again and looked in pretty good shape,” she said.
“Now this disaster has happened, so I was pretty down in the dumps for a couple of days, and then I thought with today’s technology, there’s a chance she may be saved.”
Cathy says she has been in contact with the HMS Bounty Organization LLC and there is a possibility the ship will be salvaged if it can be located and hoisted out of the water.
“I thought my job was done, but I guess with that ship it never is, because once she gets etched on your heart and soul, you’re done,” she chuckled.
Her husband couldn’t agree more.
“She was the last of her kind and that ship could never be replaced,” he said.