HMS Bounty / Maritime Musings

“Falling Overboard”

I think this piece, by Robin Beth Schaer, expresses beautifully how the tall ship community is dealing with the loss of the HMS Bounty. She describes how one trip aboard the Bounty brought her into the community of sailors, and why the loss of the ship and of Captain Walbridge is so tragic.

I want to look away from the broken ship with her masts snapped and hull submerged. I want to blur the crew lifted by helicopters from twenty foot seas. I want to veer from the Captain, washed overboard, and drifting alone in rough waters. I say the truth is unfathomable and the phrase snags in my throat, a trope already taken from the sea. I catch myself saying fathom again: a word that once meant embrace, and then the length from arm to arm of rope or water, and now means understanding. Bounty is on the sea floor and her Captain lost (my ship, my Captain gone); I don’t want to hold, or measure the depth, or understand this loss.

I was never meant to stay aboard the ship forever; I knew this. Bounty carried me from one place to another, and I let myself be taken. I lost myself in the wind and the canvas, and the open ocean. Inside her hull was a home; between the crew was a family. Now the ship is wrecked, but we are not stranded. To fathom is truly what the voyage taught: to embrace, measure, and understand the fragility and strength in this blue world and our dependence on each other within it. I learned to love a ship and then I stepped ashore willing to risk my heart.

I found this article in the Paris Review. For the original article, go to http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/11/02/falling-overboard/

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