Saturday 3 November 2012


'Don't give up the ship' was on the battle flag that Oliver Hazard Perry carried with him when he transferred command from the LAWRENCE to the NIAGARA during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. The owners of HMS BOUNTY, gave up the ship when they let her put out to sea even though it was known an unpredictable hurricane was heading northern up the Atlantic seaboard. What was so important in St. Petes, Florida to risk it all and the ships crew. Famous movie star ship or not, the sea turned cruel and so unforgiving as the three masted, 180' BOUNTY which was built at the same shipyard as BLUENOSE II in Lunenburg NS, floundered with no where to go but down, and down she went on October 30. We are all saddened to hear her captain remains missing and a crew member had died, but joyed that the remainder survived thanks to the quick response and actions of the US Coast Guard. She was a replica of the original British ship and appeared in the 1962 movie 'Mutiny on the Bounty'. More recently she was featured in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' starring Johnny Depp. I guess the good news is another Bounty replica is still afloat. HMAV BOUNTY was built in New Zealand in 1979 for the movie 'The Bounty' however in 2007, she was sold to HKR International and is now a tourist attaraction in Hong Kong and her new name is 濟民號. Perhaps one of my blog readers in China could let us know the English translation of her name.

Meanwhile, a tall ship that's not a replica, but actually the 'Real McCoy', is the brig USS NIAGARA. Built in 1813 near Erie, PA, the NIAGARA was a significant participant in the Battle of Lake Erie later that year but after the War of 1812 she was sunk near Presque Isle, PA for preservation. The NIAGARA was raised in 1836 for use as a merchant vessel, but was later sunk again because her hold was too small. In celebration for the centennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, NIAGARA was raised in 1913, re-built and then towed to various Great Lake ports and put on display. In 1917 ownership was transferred to the City of Erie where it remained docked. Deterioration and dry rot took over and it wasn't until the the early 60's before she was given a full refit with new rigging and cannons so that she could look presentable for the Battle of Lake Erie sesquicentennial in 1963. Today, her homeport remains Erie, PA and public tours are available when she's in port at the Erie Maritime Museum. When she's not, she's probably teaching young and old the exciting experience of sailing a tall ship on the Great Lakes or visiting nearby ports and festivals, like when I snapped her at this year's Canal Days in Port Colborne.

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