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Local News

February 12, 2014

Locals recall portents of Bounty's tragic sinking

(Continued)

He noted the shavings at the time, but the danger of them didn’t click until he heard that they had been a primary cause for the bilge pumps’ failure.

After leaving Newburyport, the Bounty made a handful of other stops before calling at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where it underwent repairs. Some of those repairs were shoddy, the NTSB found — for example, the crew did not properly seal areas of extensive rot on the wooden hull. They also used household-grade caulk, totally unsuitable for a marine environment. New areas of rot were discovered; the report said the captain ordered that they be painted and sealed due to financial constraints.

The Bounty left Boothbay in mid-October and cruised down the coast to Groton, Conn., where it docked for tours. Its next scheduled tours were to take place in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Nov. 10. It departed for Florida on Oct. 25, just as forecasters predicted a devastating hit by Hurricane Sandy as the storm lumbered up the Atlantic toward the East Coast.

Despite pleas by crew members to stay safely in port, Walbridge set sail into the teeth of the storm and its forecasted 100 mph winds.

Hogg said he felt Walbridge was trying to save the ship by attempting to bypass the storm.

“They say a ship is always safer at sea during a big storm. He was probably trying to save his asset,” he said. “Obviously, he made a huge mistake.”

That decision was inexplicable and irresponsible, the investigation concluded.

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