In December 1787, the “Bounty” left England for Tahiti, where it was to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings. On Tahiti, the crew enjoyed an idyllic life, reveling in the comfortable climate, lush surroundings and the hospitality of the natives, particularly the females. Shortly after the ship departed Tahiti with the cargo in April of 1789, Fletcher Christian and 25 of his mates seized the ship and set Captain Bligh along with his 18 supporters adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific. By remarkable seamanship, Bligh and his men reached the East Indies in June of 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti.
Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the “Bounty” sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men and dozen Tahitian women decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the “Bounty” settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them. Pitcairn Island, located between New Zealand and Hawaii, is now primarily populated by the descendants of the “Bounty” mutineers.
“The Court Martial of the Bounty Mutineers” contains the actual transcripts of the trial in the most famous mutiny at sea in history. As in most all dramatic storytelling, the many motion picture portrayals given to us by the cinematic arts have depicted the two sides as the clear deviation between right and wrong – that of the evil Captain Bligh versus the righteous mutineers. But in reality that occurrence wasn’t nearly that definitively obvious, for the truth is always somewhere in the middle.