Nov 4, 2012, 9:05 AM
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Picton Castle captain questions Bounty being at sea during storm
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012
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October 29, 2012 - 10:08am By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau
Dan Moreland, captain of the Picton Castle, wonders why The Bounty was at sea during a hurricane. (BEVERLY WARE / South Shore Bureau)
BRIDGEWATER — The captain of the Picton Castle says he can’t understand why the Bounty was at sea Monday when a massive hurricane was forecast to hit.
Indeed, Dan Moreland postponed leaving Lunenburg more than a week ago precisely because of hurricane Sandy.
“It was an easy decision to make,” he said. “It’s black and white, there are no nuances with this. It’s a huge system and that made the decision very simple.”
Moreland said he has known Robin Walbridge, the longtime captain of the Bounty, for years and he is an experienced seaman, but Moreland said he was shocked that Walbridge decided to sail, given the forecast.
“Yes, I have to say yes, I can’t say anything else. When I first heard the Bounty was out there, I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ ”
Moreland said there was very good information on the storm well in advance.
“I don’t understand this one at all,” he said. “This is a huge system, there is no way of avoiding this, there’s no dodging and weaving around it.”
Moreland has captained the Picton Castle on five circumnavigations, and the tall ship has sailed more than 400,000 kilometres under his command without incident.
Moreland had planned to set sail in the Picton Castle over a week ago but delayed the voyage because of the impending hurricane.
“I had no interest in going because of this storm,” clearly a large system that would have extensive impact, he said.
He postponed the departure until last Wednesday, and then, given the latest weather information, decided to stay put until the storm passed.
Moreland said he is extremely sorry that two of the Bounty’s crew members are missing. And those who made it into lifeboats would have faced horrendous conditions, he said. They would have been exposed to the elements and “whopped around and feeling every wave.”
Rescuing them by air was a “very desperate measure,” Moreland said, “a last possible option.”
The Bounty, launched in Lunenburg in 1960, is the second tall ship connected to the South Shore town to sink in less than three years. In February 2010, the Lunenburg-based Concordia went down in a storm off the coast of Brazil. All 64 students and staff were rescued after spending 40 hours in life-rafts.
Moreland expects the Bounty’s sinking to come under intense scrutiny.
“When you lose a ship, there are some pretty obvious questions out of this. It’s pretty horrible, and the big question is, the decision to go.”