On February 1, 2005 I sailed on MV Discovery’s “Wake of the Bounty” cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, Bora Bora, and Tahiti. For fans of the Mutiny on Bounty story the ships arrival at Pitcairn Island was most anticipated and we arrived in the morning off Adamstown as a boat with Pitcairners made its way to the ship so that some of the islanders may join us for breakfast. Tom Christian introduced his family, descended from Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian and the other families of the island whose lineages also trace back to mutiny on Bounty. The seas were too high for us to land in the boats but fellow passenger Wally Michalec had landed there in 2002 and had this photo of a sign that points to the “Last Resting Place of HMS Bounty.”
Following the voyage I posted photos and story on World is Round web site at http://www.worldisround.com/articles/135595/photo10.html and left other photos in a storage folder until the story of Hurricane Sandy and replica ship HMS Bounty sailed into the news this week. Then as stories of Bounty’s foundering in the seas and rescue of its crew came into the news I looked for these old photos of my trip to Pitcairn. My voyage across the South Pacific had been on mostly peaceful seas and I enjoyed the hospitality of the descendents of mutineers and pirates including many with the name Christian as well as others who claim Fletcher Christian as their ancestor. The original Bounty after the mutiny in 1789 led by Fletcher Christian sailed to Pitcairn and was set on fire only 50 meters from the sign “Last Resting Place of Bounty.” There it burned and sank on January 23, 1790.
222 years later in October 2012 replica HMS Bounty was abandoned off Cape Hatteras and the US Coast Guard was sent to rescue the crew from the sea and the name Christian is again connected with the loss of Bounty. Crew member Claudene Christian a descendent of Fletcher Christian did not make it and her body was retrieved as the Coast Guard continued to look for Captain Robin Walbridge.
I returned home from the South Pacific having walked the black sand beach of Matavai Bay Tahiti where Captain Cook observed the Transit of Venus and Captain William Bligh anchored to begin his breadfruit gathering and where Fletcher Christian returned after the famous mutiny before sailing to lands unknown. In 1808 American Captain Mayhew Folger sailed Topaz, a sealing ship, to rediscover Pitcairn Island and meet the last mutineer alive, John Adams. Fletcher Christian had died in 1793 at age 28. He left two sons Thursday October Christian born 1790 and Charles Christian born 1792 from who the Christian name has descended at Pitcairn. Over the generations since numerous Christian descendents can be found at Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and even the United States where ironically and sadly one descendent was lost with replica HMS Bounty in October 2012. Claudene Christian will be remembered by those who sailed with her and many more who read about her spirit of adventure that will sail forever.