Day 52

This is our second of three sea days. We had a brief breakfast with our neighbors, Trish and Jeff and set off to the theater for Terry’s historical interpretation of “Mutiny on the Bounty.” At age 7, Bligh joined the Navy. This was a trick the parents did for their boys, which came in handy when he officially enlisted at age 16, because he received a higher rank with his 9 years seniority. Another aside was that Fletcher Christian twice sailed with Bligh to Jamaica and they knew each other well. The Bounty was a little ship, only 90’ long and 24’ wide. When they set sail December 23,1787 there were 46 men aboard. The plan was to sail around Cape Horn to Tahiti, but rough ocean and bad weather prevented navigation through the straits. After two weeks of attempts, Bligh turned east and sailed below Africa, across the southern Indian Ocean, below Australia and up into the islands, arriving October 26, 1788. Travelling a different route than planned led to a five-month delay, so they missed the harvesting season for new breadfruit saplings and had to wait six months for the next crop to mature. On the tropical paradise, crew discipline fell apart. Three crew jumped ship before they left.

The Bounty set sail on April 4, 1789. It seemed that Christian had a personal plan to build a raft and leave alone to join his pregnant Tahitian wife, but the crew found out and insisted on joining him. We all know what happened based on the movies we’ve seen. Bligh and 18 loyalists were sent adrift in a launch, 23’ by 7’. Bligh took his log book and sextant and successfully navigated for 47 days and 3,618 nautical miles to Timor, an island in Indonesia and north of mid-Australia, a place where he knew there were European sailing ships. Finally, sixteen survived and returned to England.

Fletcher sailed the Bounty, with 18 mutineers and 7 loyalists (there was no more room in the launch for them), back to Tahiti to pick up the women left behind and some men came along too. There was no gender balance and that would be fatal. There were 9 Bounty men (some chose to remain in Tahiti), 6 Tahitian men, 11 women and 1 child. During the following years, quarrels led to fights which led to deaths, suicides, and murders, such that, by 1808 when British search ships stopped there was only one survivor, John Adams. He was imprisoned 17 years, granted amnesty in 1825 and died 4 years later.

Bligh received an automatic court-martial for losing his ship, but was exonerated and praised for his open boat journey and saving his loyal crew. In 1791, the Admiral sent him back to Tahiti to complete his original mission and he succeeded in bringing breadfruit to Jamaica. He fought in several naval battles at Copenhagen in 1801 and was appointed Governor of Sydney, Australia in 1806. It wasn’t long before he caused the Rum Rebellion, which lead to his return to England. He was appointed Vice Admiral of Dublin and his main achievement there was building a sea wall that still stands today. He died on December 7, 1817 at age 64.

The second lecture was by the concert pianist, Panos Karan. His mid-life crisis was geared to finding out why he wanted to play music. He decided to leave the concert halls for a new venue and audience. In 2011, he traveled to Ecuador, Peru, and the Amazon. He brought music to children and young people who had never experienced it. In the following years, he went to Sierra Leone, Siberia, and Fukushima, Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. He felt an inner reward just seeing the expressions on the children’s faces.

In Fukushima, the music students wanted to play with him. He made a deal. If they could learn the music pieces he left with them, he would return and perform a concert with them. What followed was a little miracle. Ten school music programs got together and practiced for months, learning courage, leadership, and teamwork. He kept his promise and this orchestra now travels around the world to Bangkok, Boston, London, and other concert halls. Panos has returned to Japan 20 times so far.

We recessed to noontime games and our team won in the “Fact and Numbers” game, by guessing numbers and years to questions. Pat missed part of the music lecture when she attended a cocktail making workshop led by bartender Sonya. After games, Bob and Art kept trying to get me into a ping-pong game, so we established a 12:30 time on sea days. Went there today and did well.

After lunch, another lecture on Hieroglyphics. To keep it short, we learned why it died out in 5th century. The Greeks ruled Egypt then and, with Christianity spreading, they thought it was too Pagan. Then, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 renewed interest among scholars. Finally, in 1822, a French multi-linguist, Jean Champollion put together a theory that hieroglyphics were a combination of phonetic sounds and symbols. This was the final piece of the puzzle to make sense of the previous attempts of translations.

We returned to our room briefly so I could read a little and Pat could work on the daily Mensa quiz. At trivia, we came in fourth again. Close, but no Regent points. We quickly changed for a 6:00pm “Where are You From” party. Gathering locations were assigned for states and foreign countries who had 5 or more passengers aboard. We met one other couple from Brookline, MA.

After dinner, we went up to the outside deck to check the stars and the full moon. A slight thin cloud cover blocked out the stars, but the moon was brilliant. The evening entertainment was Aiden Soon, a world renowned classical harmonica virtuoso. His performance was extraordinary. He played familiar tunes with a great deal of energy. It was more than you would have ever expected. As an aside, he and his wife have won the doubles harmonica playing championship the past two years and his harmonica band has traveled the world. Who knew? He played the Turkish March, “Over the Rainbow,” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “I Dreamed a Dream,” and other well-known tunes.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac