This was Chris Barksdale’s second opportunity to work on the HMS Bounty ship, so when the first mate offered him a job as the engineer on board, Barksdale knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
The historic tall ship was built in 1960 for the Marlon Brando movie, Mutiny on the Bounty and later appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The historic ship was scheduled to leave New London, Connecticut for St. Petersburg, Florida.
“I told myself not many people get this chance in life,” Barksdale said. “I felt the need and desire to go for the adventure.”
Barksdale was in for more adventure than he bargained for. As ‘Superstorm’ Sandy brewed in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, called the crew to the deck for a meeting.
“At that point in time, I didn’t know a hurricane was coming,” said Barksdale. Captain Walbridge told the crew he wouldn’t blame them if they wanted to get off the ship and he wouldn’t hold it against them.
“Naturally, I thought about it,” Barksdale said. “But the captain had a good plan to circumvent the storm and at that point, we didn’t realize the magnitude of the storm.”
Citing the old saying a ship is safer at sea than at port, none of the other 15 crew members opted out either. The Bounty set sail on Thursday. Three days later, the ship sailed directly into Hurricane Sandy’s path.
“I knew we were in trouble early afternoon on Sunday,” Barksdale recalls. “It appeared we were taking in more water than we were pumping out.”
Finish reading an exclusive, two-part series about Barksdale and the tragic sinking of the HMS Bounty, here on Newplex.
With winds reaching 80 miles per hour and waves three stories high, Barksdale recalls having to hold on at all times on board, or risk being tossed across the ship. A few crew member suffered broken arms and ribs from not holding on tight enough.