The story of Captain Bligh, the quest for breadfruit and the mutiny is perhaps one of the most famous concerning the Royal Navy in the great days of sail. Much of this can be attributed to the several motion pictures made of the story. Predictably, fact was far from fiction. This book—written by Captain Bligh himself—reveals a fine and able officer, well regarded by peers and superiors, who set about a difficult task that led ultimately to the infamous ordeal of mutiny within his crew. As Fletcher Christian and the mutineers took his vessel and returned to the pleasures of Tahiti, Bligh and the other loyal unfortunates in his open boat began the long struggle for survival which would see the deaths of many of them. Bligh recounts the entire history of the voyage of the Bounty from commission to mutiny to final deliverance, enhanced with much detail of interest to students of navigation and maritime history. A true classic.
Tuesday 3rd February, 1789. I was present this afternoon at a wrestling match where a young man, by an unlucky fall, put his arm out of joint at the elbow: three stout men immediately took hold of him and, two of them fixing their feet against his ribs, replaced it. I had sent for our surgeon but before he arrived all was well, except a small swelling of the muscles in consequence of the strain. I enquired what they would have done if the bone had been broken and, to show me their practice, they got a number of sticks and placed round a man’s arm, which they bound with cord. That they have considerable skill in surgery is not to be doubted. I have before mentioned an instance of an amputated arm being perfectly healed and which had every appearance of having been treated with great propriety.<br>
The part of the beach nearest the ship was become the general place of resort towards the close of the day. An hour before sunset the inhabitants began to collect, and here they amused themselves with exercising the lance, dancing, and various kinds of merriment, till nearly dark, when they retired to their homes. Of this cheerful scene we were spectators and partakers every fine evening.<br><br>
Friday 6th February. An occurrence happened today that gave me great concern, not only on account of the danger with which the ship had been threatened, but as it tended greatly to diminish the confidence and good understanding which had hitherto been constantly preserved between us and the natives. The wind had blown fresh in the night, and at daylight we discovered that the cable by which the ship rode had been cut near the water’s edge in such a manner that only one strand remained whole. While we were securing the ship Tinah came on board. I could not but believe he was perfectly innocent of the transaction; nevertheless I spoke to him in a very peremptory manner, and insisted upon his discovering and bringing to me the offender. I was wholly at a loss how to account for this malicious act. My suspicions fell chiefly, I may say wholly, on the strangers that came to us from other parts of the island; for we had on every occasion received such unreserved and unaffected marks of goodwill from the people of Matavai and Oparre that in my own mind I entirely acquitted them. The anger which I expressed however created so much alarm that old Otow and his wife (the father and mother of Tinah) immediately quitted Oparre, and retired to the mountains in the midst of heavy rain, as did Teppahoo and his family. Tinah and Iddeah remained and expostulated with me on the unreasonableness of my anger against them. He said that he would exert his utmost endeavours to discover the guilty person, but it might possibly not be in his power to get him delivered up, which would be the case if he was either of Tiarraboo, Attahooroo, or of the island Eimeo. That the attempt might have been made as much out of enmity to the people of Matavai and Oparre as to me, everyone knowing the regard I had for them, and that I had declared I would protect them against their enemies. All this I was inclined to believe, but I did not think proper to appear perfectly satisfied lest Tinah, who was naturally very indolent, should be remiss in his endeavours to detect the offender. To guard as much as possible against future attempts of this kind I directed a stage to be built on the forecastle so that the cables should be more directly under the eye of the sentinel; and I likewise gave orders that one of the midshipman should keep watch forward.<br>
In the afternoon Oreepyah returned from Tethuroa. He told me that Moannah and himself had narrowly escaped being lost in the bad weather and that Moannah had been obliged to take shelter at Eimeo. Several canoes had been lost lately in their passage to or from Tethuroa. The oversetting of their canoes is not the only risk they have to encounter, but is productive of another danger more dreadful; for at such times many become a prey to the sharks which are very numerous in these seas. I was informed likewise that they were sometimes attacked by a fish which by their description I imagine to be the barracoota, as they attribute to it the same propensity. Saturday passed without my seeing anything of Tinah the whole day.