Just a week before Hurricane Sandy sank the HMS Bounty off the coast of North Carolina on Monday, killing at least one crew member, the famous wooden-masted replica ship was dry-docked in Boothbay Harbor for maintenance.
The Bounty visited Eastport, Belfast and Castine this summer before docking at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for a month of minor repairs, according to the ship’s website.
The ship was well known at the shipyard, where it was sent many times over the years for maintenance, including several months in 2006 and 2007, when it got a $2 million overhaul.
No one answered the phone at the shipyard Monday, and shipyard president Eric Graves did not return calls for comment.
According to the Coast Guard, 14 members of the Bounty’s crew were rescued by helicopter Monday morning and the body of another, Claudene Christian, 42, was recovered Monday evening.
The search continued Monday night for the captain, Robin Walbridge, 63.
The 180-foot, three-masted ship, which was used in several Hollywood movies, began taking on water late Sunday in rough seas off North Carolina’s coast. By about 8 a.m. Monday, a helicopter crew had found the sinking ship, with most of its crew in rubber life rafts.
Christian and Walbridge were missing. They were wearing survival suits, designed to help keep them afloat and protected from cold water for as long as 15 hours, the Coast Guard said.
The ship, featured in the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” starring Marlon Brando, also was used in “Treasure Island” in 1989 and two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
Pauline Dion, who does marketing for the shipyard, said many people in Boothbay Harbor got to know Walbridge, the Bounty’s captain, and his crew.
“We’re hoping for the best,” Dion said Monday.
Doane Heselton, former vice president of Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, said he got to know the ship well over the years and was saddened to learn of its sinking.
“Obviously, though, it’s more troubling to hear about the two missing crew members,” he said.
According to the shipyard’s website, the Bounty left Maine on Oct. 22.
“We were excited to have Bounty back at the shipyard this September and October. She has been here for about four weeks getting minor repairs,” the site said. “This visit Bounty had some bottom work and caulking to do, topside planking and new spars to build. Refitting new fuel tanks, water tanks and some minor systems work, also needed to be done.”
Later in the week, the ship stopped in Connecticut before embarking for St. Petersburg, Fla., the home of its captain.
Days before it sank, the vessel rerouted to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. However, a statement on its website acknowledged, “This will be a tough voyage.”
“They were staying in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center,” Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organization, told The Associated Press. “They were trying to make it around the storm.”
Although the ship had ties to Maine, its permanent home for many decades was Florida.
The ship was built in 1960 as a replica of the original late-18th century British Royal Navy ship. In 1986, it was bought by media mogul Ted Turner, and in 2001 it was bought by its current owner, a New York businessman named Robert Hansen.
In recent years, the ship wintered in Puerto Rico and often traveled around the world in the spring and summer months.
Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: