Mutiny on the HMS Bounty

Three weeks after the trip from Tahiti to the Antilles, the HMS Premium is seized in a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian, the master’s companion. Captain William Bligh and 18 of his loyal supporters were drifted into a small open boat, and the Premium set course for Tubuai south of Tahiti.

In December 1787, the Premium left England for Tahiti in the South Pacific, where he was to collect a shipment of young breadfruit trees to transport them to the West Indies. There, the breadfruit would serve as food for the slaves. After a 10 month trip, the Premium arrived in Tahiti in October 1788 and stayed there for more than five months. In Tahiti, the crew lived an idyllic life, reveling in the comfortable climate, lush surroundings and famous Tahitian hospitality. Fletcher Christian fell in love with a Tahitian woman named Mauatua.

On April 4, 1789, the Premium left Tahiti with its store of young bread trees. On April 28, near Tonga Island, Christian and 25 small officers and sailors seized the ship. Bligh, who would eventually fall prey to a total of three mutinies during his career, was an oppressive commander and cursed those under him. By adrift in a crowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently sentenced him to death. By remarkable navigation, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a journey of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon returned to Tahiti, where he managed to transport breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

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