Bounty Logbook

Bounty Logbook

The spelling errors in the text are those of Captain Bligh. I retained them for color and authenticity. There some words that may be unfamiliar to most readers.

Portable soup was dehydrated food, like jerky, sometimes called pocket soop or veal glew. It would keep for many months, was filling and nutritious but also tiresome and unappetizing. It was a staple for seamen and explorers.
Wort is the sugar-rich unfermented malt extracted from grains in the process of brewing beer.
Deadlights are shutters or plates fastened over a ship’s portholes in stormy weather.
Helm be put aweather-in the direction from which the wind blows, meaning westward.

From the Logbook of the Bounty

March 28, 1788, Light Winds & an exceedingly high Sea from the SW. It is beginning now to be cold and the Weather damp I ordered the People to have Wheat served every day with Sugar & Butter to enable them to have a comfortable hot breakfast, and bear fatigue.

March 29, We are obliged to be batten’d down fore and Aft the Sea frequently breaking over us, however we keep tolerably dry below. I do not Wonder at Lord Ansons Account of the High Sea, for it exceeds any I have seen, and to be here in a laboursome Ship must be an Unhappy Situation.

March 31, Fresh Gale & Sleet and Rain with a very high confused Sea.
April 1, As the Wind came round we began to have very hard Snow Squalls, and at this time it was as much as we could do to bring the Ship under the Fore & Main Staysail. It blew a Storm of Wind and the Snow fell so heavy that it was scarce possible to haul the sails up and furl them from the Weight and Stiffness. By 8 O’Clock we set the Reefed Foresail and every Man received a Dram. I ordered two people from each Watch to attend to dry Cloaths (clothes) for which purpose a Fire is kept in all Night.
April 2, Strong Gale and a high Sea with Squalls and constant Rain. This continued with some intermissions, and the Wind became Variable untill Midnight, when it fixed in the SW Quarter, and a most heavy Storm of Wind came on with Hail and Sleet. At 6 In the Morning the Storm exceeded anything I had met with and a Sea higher than I had ever seen before…My next business was to see after my People who had undergone some fatigue, and to take care that a proper fire was kept in and that no one kept on Wet Cloaths. This being done and seeing them all comfortably dry, I ordered a large quantity of Portable Soop to be boiled in their Pease which made a Valuable and good dinner for them.
April 3, The Gales we begin to experience are very heavy and distressing. At Midnight I had hopes of a fair Wind, but an hour had scarce elapsed before I found, what would have done very well in Moderate Wr. (weather)and little Sea to have enabled me to clear the Whole coast of Patagonia…it is not a litle distressing after the exertions we have made thus far to see ourselves loosing what we had got with some difficulty. All I have to do now is to Nurse my people with care and attention, and like Seamen look forward to a New Moon for a Change of Wind and Weather.
April 4, We cleaned and dryed below towards Noon and the rest of the People were employed in serviceing the Chafed Parts of the Rigging.
April 10, Towards 8 in the Morning it came Moderate Wr. with a fine Sun Shine towards Noon. I now Ordered all Cloaths and bedding up, unbattened all the Hatchways and the dead lights out & had a thorough Clean & dry between Decks.
April 11, We have now but very little intermission from hard Gales with a Constant high Sea and not the least Slant of Wind, it has been particularly hard upon us since the 29th March. The Sea from the WNW. is so great that upon a Medium we scarce ever make less than 4 points lee way, and When we have an hour or two that we can lye tolerably up the Ship can scarce get ahead against the Sea, plunging Fore Castle under. I had hopes our New Moon would have brought us a favorable Wind, but it appears to be thoroughly fixed in the Quarter it is in. To see ourselves loosing, what we have got with some difficulty makes me carry more Sail
than I otherwise would do, but my Men and Officers bear the fatigue with Cheerfulness and health. We feel no extreme Cold altho the air is very bleak and uncomfortable. Nothing can be got dryed but by the Fire which is kept well up, and I take care they wear no Articles of dress but what is perfectly dry. I have always people to attend to this particular, and it is from this I date, with some triffling comforts besides, their great share of health. To this time I have not had one Man or Officer that has had a Cough. My Gunner has been laid up a few days with Rheumatic Complaints but is now doing duty again.
April 12, We are Obliged now to pump the Ship every hour, for from the constant Gales and high Sea nothing can stand it, and she now begins to be a little leaky. I now Ordered my Cabbin to be appropriated at Nights to the Use of those poor fellows who had Wet Births (berths), by which means it not only gave more room between Decks, but rendered those happy who had not dry beds to sleep in.
April 13, It was with much Satisfaction we found the Wind Moderate this afternoon, and I made the most of it by carrying all the Sail the ship would bear, particularly the first part of the Night when we laid so well up, but the Wind freshened and became so Strong a Gale before Midnight that it was as much as all hands could get the Sails in, our Decks was twice filled with the Sea, but happily no damage of consequence happened to us…Upon the whole I may be bold to say that few Ships could have gone through it as we have done, but I cannot expect my Men and Officers to bear it much longer, or will the object of my Voyage allow me to persist in it. My Gunner who has had charge of a Watch is now laid up, and my Carpenters Mate, and from the Violent motion of the ship the Cook fell and received a severe bruize and broke one of his Ribs, and One Man Dislocated his shoulder.
April 14, The repeated Gales seem now to become more Violent. The Squalls so excessively severe that I dare scarce show any Canvas to it. The motion of the Ship is so very quick and falls so deep between the Seas that it is impossible to stand without man ropes across the Decks. My Surgeon from a heavy lurch was thrown down and dislocated his shoulder, but happily it was soon put in again…By Hooks and Line floating my People jigged (as they called it) two Albatrosses. We have caught several of the Brown and of the White kind, between which there appears no difference but in their plumage, the same as may be observed among the Gulls in England. They measured 5Ft 8In from tip to tip of the Wings. I have encouraged their eating those Birds, and by cramming them with Ground Corn like Turkeys they are as fat and not inferior to fine Geese, we have done the same with the Pintada which are as fine and about the Size of a Pidgeon.
April 15, How far I may yet be able to accomplish it is impossible to say. I have now every reason to find Men and Ship complaining, which Will the soonest detemine this point. At present we are obliged to pump Ship every hour.
April 16, In the Forenoon the Sea being tolerably down we were employed clearing our Fore Hold to get our Guns down that the Ship may not be strained aloft by their Weight.
April 17, The Weather of this Day begun to make all hands feel it and seeing the Wind so fixed at 11 O’Clock in the Forenoon I determined on bearing away for the Cape of Good Hope. The General Joy in the Ship was very great on this Account.
April 18, My Gunners and two Men are now confined with heavy colds and Rheumatic Complaints. I now began to give my Men and Officers a Pint of the Decoction of Ground Malt once a day and shall continue it while in bad Weather and untill I see a likelyhood of fresh supplies. Proportion four to One.
April 19,…some of my people have begun to feel the bad effects of the Weather, five being in the Sick list for the Rheumatism, however a fair Wind will soon carry of these Complaints. The Gale was very heavy and the Weather cold with little or no intermissions of Snow Showers, untill Noon, when the Sun shining very bright it cheered the Spirits of all hands. To give the Men a fresh Meal to Morrow I ordered a Hog to be killed, out of a half a dozen I have remaining. We had great abundance of Poultry Sheep & Hogs but the Weather for this Month past has been so severe that we have now scarce any left.
April 20, It is a Dear Point to give up and a matter I cannot easily reconcile, but it is impossible to act against the severity of this tempestuous Weather. It is with much concern I see my Sick list encreased to Six, One of which is a fractured Rib, and the five severe Rheumatick complaints which totally incapacitated them from duty. I this Day gave all hands a good and valuable fresh Meal from a Hog I Ordered to be killed and as I have before mentioned gave them all (including Officers) a pint of Sweet Wort to drink. This drink I see issued myself and make every one take their allowance.
April 21, Our lying on the most advantageous tacks this Day was of no benefit to us, I carried all the Sail possible but to no effect. To add to our disagreeable Situation, The Surgeon reported to me two additional sick Men so that our Number of Invalids were now encreased to Eight which is much felt in the Watches, the Ropes being now Worked with much difficulty, from the Wet and Snow, notwithstanding this I had still hopes if we could keep our health up, to gain our point with the least favorable Wind. The Morning came in with a dry Air, and the Sun appearing at times, I ordered all bedding on Deck & mustered every one & gave each a Clean and dry Hammock, for altho it has been my constant endeavors to keep dry below, yet from the heavy Seas and the Ship Straining, a great deal of Wet comes through the Seams, and makes the situation of the< People now become hazardous with respect to Colds. I continue a pint of the Decoction of Ground Malt to each Man and Officer every Day, and a hot breakfast of boiled Wheat, with portable Soop and Sour Krout in their Pease.
April 22, It was with much concern I saw it improper and even unjustifiable

in me to persist any longer in a passage this Way to the Society Islands. Towards Evening the Wind and heavy falls of Snow became so violent, that I must have laid too, and the Wind backing to the Westward became so fixed with a high Sea running led me to determine to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope from the following considerations. First, the surest way to accomplish the Grand object of the Voyage. That the Season has commenced when most certainly Strong Gales are frequent and lasting, and that from a continuance of them should I at last fail of getting round the Land, such a loss of time would be attended with much risk and probably very detrimental to my proceedings in future. That my People being but a few hands, and by suffering more fatigue may suddenly be taken Ill, and thereby the Grand object of the Voyage be greatly endangered. For Notwithstanding their astonishing good health at present (except Eight who are laid up with Rheumatic Complaints and One with a broken Rib;)< yet it requiring all our force to complete the necessary duties in these heavy Gales they are become jaded and symptoms of disease may follow. That the Ship begins also to complain and is obliged to be carefully attended with the Pumps. That from the present Month I may get to Otaheite (Tahiti) and be ready for leaving it in good time, and be secure of being in Endeavor Streights and at Java in a proper season; but if by persevering in this passage (which I am convinced cannot be accomplished during the time I could remain here longer) I should meet with further delays by Accidents, I should be highly reprehensible under the discretionary orders I am honoured and intrusted with to perform the Voyage. That I see no Ill that can be attended with the present conduct of my pursuit, the proper time for my passing the most intricate part of the Voyage being fully guarded against, and as it is universally allowed by all Navigators, that the Westerly Winds are the prevailing ones in this Sea, we have every reason to expect a quick passage to the Cape of Good Hope, where every Man will get proper refreshment and have his health perfectly established. That upon the whole being summed up, One amounts the matter to a certainty and the other to a doubt, and my honor and Character being at Stake, which to take. I rely on my conduct for the former, being the only one elligible, however it may prove Successful. I ordered the Helm to be put a Weather to the universal joy of all hands at 5 O'Clock and as the Gale continued it was an additional satisfaction to think we had lost no time. The Forenoon was taken up with making Fires in different parts of the Ship and Cleaning among the People, and by Noon they were all tolerably dry and comfortable with chearfull spirits that they were no longer to remain Off Cape Horn. This is the 30th. Day of my being in this tempestuous sea... and had every hopes of accomplishing the Passage round; but from this time we had no intermissions from hard Gales and very severe Weather, scarce ever leaving it in my power to do much better than lye too. The Sails & Ropes were worked with much difficulty, and the few Men who were obliged incapable of getting below, and some of them sometimes for a While lost their Speech; but I took care to Nurse them when off duty with every comfort in my power. The Invalids I made attend and dry their Cloaths and Keep a good fire in every Night, so that no Man when he took his Watch had a Wet Rag about him. They were at three Watches, and When lying too, I would only suffer two Men on Deck at a time. I gave them all additional Slop Cloaths, and I made their Meal pleasant and wholesome as may be Observed in the different days Occurences. As I kept far to the Southward no Current seems to have materialy Affected us.

Captain Bligh and his men successfully sailed to Tahiti but had to wait for five months for the breadfruit plants to be suitable for the voyage around the Horn to the West Indies. Because of the five months delay, Bligh allowed the men to live ashore to tend the potted breadfruit. Rather than being sadistic or a martinet as he is presented in film, he seems to have been solicitous to his crew and sympathetic of the hard duty in the attempt to ‘round the Horn.
However, many of the crew found Tahiti to their liking, especially the women. Fletcher Christian, who had replaced the original sailing master, married a Tahitian woman. Other members of the crew made less formal relations. Blight attempted to restore discipline for the voyage to Jamaica, the Bermudas and other islands dressing down Christian in front of the crew and Tahitians, flogging for minor infractions the sailors were resentful. Three deserted the ship. They were quickly recaptured but their disloyalty made Blight suspicious of the crew and their leaders. Twentythree days after their departure from Tahibit, the crew seized the ship, put Bligh and his loyal crew members in an open boat, and returned to Tahiti

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