HMS Bounty, a replica of the famous "Mutiny on the" ship, sank off the North Carolina coast while trying to sail around Hurricane Sandy. She carried 16 crew, 14 of whom are safe ashore as I write this. One crew member, Claudine Christian, died and her body was recovered. The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing as of Monday night. I pray for the safety of Captain Walbridge and for the family and friends and memory of Claudine Christian. CNN has a good story with a bit of video that is the most up to date info I could find as I write this.
I understand the human tragedy here and I guess some would think this terribly missing that point, but I'm going to write about losing the ship. If that bothers you, stop here, or bear with me and maybe you'll see where I'm going with this. The Bounty wasn't a person, she had no soul (in the religious sense) and no family (in the genetic sense) and she shouldn't be mourned as if she was a person. But it's not wrong to mourn her, I think, not wrong to feel a real sadness that she rests now at the bottom of the Atlantic, never to sail again. I do feel that sadness, a sense of loss. I think that woman next to me in the picture, our friend Misty, feels it too, and without assuming to speak for her, I'm going to try to explain why we do.
There's a reason ships are called "she" and not "it." Ships, especially sailing ships, evoke emotion in sailors and would be sailors. They represent much more than wood and hemp and canvas. They represent freedom. They represent escape. Or maybe it's more to the point to say that they represent......possibilities. That's the crux of it for me, I think. I already feel very free and I have nothing to escape from, my life being pretty damned good, and yet I'm drawn to a ship like the Bounty on a very basic level. Misty is as well. We HAD to go see her, and we HAD to go see her together. We did the same thing when the US Coast Guard's Eagle came to town. We walked around these ships not saying much but both thinking the same thing, "What if....?" What if I had her for my own? Where could I go? What could I do? How would it be to wake up in the morning to the sound of water running against a wooden hull and know I had the whole of the ocean open to me? We joked about stowing away, but neither of us wanted that and soon it turned to imaginings of flat out piracy. We didn't want to just be on the ship, we wanted to have the ship, to be a part of her and her of us and to go where we pleased. When I was on the Bounty, I could feel all of that inside of me. Possibility, pure, unadulterated possibility, seemed closer. Just being aboard her did it.
And now she's gone and I'm sad.