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Superstorm Sandy: Tallship sinks, Bounty descendant drowned

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 1:29pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph

Woman killed as Hollywood replica ship sinks was descendant of mutiny's leader.

A woman who died when a replica of HMS Bounty was sunk by Superstorm Sandy was a descendant of Fletcher Christian, who led the infamous mutiny on the original Bounty in the 18th century.

Claudene Christian, 42, the mutineer's great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter, was found unresponsive by rescuers after being washed into the sea. Fourteen of the 16 people on board were successfully rescued by helicopter, but the captain of the ship, Robin Walbridge, 63, was missing.

Miss Christian had told the Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that being on the ship was "incredible". "I was at the helm the first week and said 'Captain, are you sure you're comfortable having a Christian at the helm?' I wasn't sure if he got my joke," she said.

"I have a marketing background, so I wasn't sure if they'd take me because I didn't have a sailing background, although I've been totally interested in it all my life. I just decided I was going to apply for who I am. I'm so, so attached to the Bounty because I'm Claudene Christian."

US Coast Guard photographs showed how the 180ft vessel listed to the right and was swamped by water before sinking 90 miles off North Carolina.

The crew climbed into two covered lifeboats but Miss Christian and Captain Walbridge were thrown into the water. The search for Captain Walbridge was continuing because he was wearing a cold water survival suit and life jacket, increasing his chances of surviving.

Fletcher Christian seized control of the original Bounty from Captain William Bligh near Tahiti in 1789.

The replica was constructed for use in the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty, which starred Marlon Brando as Christian. It later featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, starring Johnny Depp.

The ship was used to teach sailors about 18th century square-rigged sailing and had set out from Connecticut for Florida last Thursday with a crew of 11 men and five women, ranging in age from 20 to 66. Organisers said the captain was aware of the storm and had tried to steer a course away from it.

As Sandy gathered strength on Saturday, a post on Bounty's Facebook page tried to soothe any worried supporters: "Rest assured that the Bounty is safe and in very capable hands."


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