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Captain Bligh

Article about Captain Bligh and his Voyage to Tahiti


William Bligh became famous before he was a Captain as he learned sailing under Captain Cook in his youth. Captain Bligh was commissioned to take the Bounty to Tahiti Nui. Although he possessed an armed vessel under his command as well as experienced sailors, the Bounty was grossly inefficient for the task. The mission in which he had been ordered to undertake was an economic one. Captain Bligh was supposed to sail to Tahiti Nui, purchase and/or grow Breadfruit plants to be taken to the West Indies, and sail back to England. The sailors were not able to maintain their discipline after the cultural shock which they experienced. Cohesion began to dissipate and Captain Bligh resorted to greater and harsher methods of physical discipline to maintain it. The April 28th, 1789 mutiny that resulted in Captain Bligh being set adrift was initiated by Fletcher Christian, a friend of Captain Bligh whom Bligh had handpicked and recruited for this adventure. Fletcher Christian led a successful mutiny and took command and control over the Bounty. Captain Bligh was put in a small wooden boat and set adrift with 18 sailors that stayed loyal to him. Captain Bligh sailed 3,618 miles or 6,700 kilometers to Jakarta, Indonesia on a 23 foot boat (7m) without a roof or covering. From there he was transported to England where he was able to report the mutiny as “an act of piracy” and publish the Captain's Log. The greatest lesson that can be garnered from this story is the resilience of Captain Bligh under seemingly impossible circumstances. He had no food, no water, a dinghy without a covering, and lacked charts and navigation devices. He used his experience and was able to sail 6,700 kilometers in 28 days. An impossible feat for any sailor, but one which made Captain Bligh famous in history.

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