Remembering the 'HMS Bounty'

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 2:30pm

Like many community members, I attended the Chamber's November 7 Business After Hours, hosted by the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for its new Shipyard Community Sailing & Science Center, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013.

Like any other Business After Hours event, this was to be an evening focused on the host organization, in this case, the new center.  However, this event was planned before the tragic moment when Hurricane Sandy took the HMS Bounty and two of its crew.  

Since that day, this entire community has felt a sense of devastation and loss.  That loss has been especially great for those who devote their lives to the people and vessels that enter the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard every day.  My heart has truly ached for the crew at the Shipyard who shared such a strong bond with Bounty Capt. Robin Walbridge and his crew.  

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the Shipyard crew stepped forward to honor and celebrate the HMS Bounty and its crew, with such devotion, professionalism and compassion, that it moved me to share it with anyone who was not present.

As we all made our way to the pier and dock where the HMS Bounty had proudly stood just weeks ago, bagpipers played in their honor.  As we entered the large boat shed, in the very spot the entire Bounty crew had danced the night away at the Harbor Fest, the U.S. Coast Guard stood in their honor.

Pastor Sarah Foulger of the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor gave a beautiful sermon and many others shared wonderful and personal stories of the ship, Captain Walbridge and the crew.

It was a beautiful, moving moment that provided a much needed sense of closure. I am so grateful to have been there.

The HMS Bounty and its crew

The crew were (and are) a very special breed of people. My experience getting to know them was completely by chance, and one I will never forget.  

As we planned, prepared for and carried out the Harbor Fest Event, the crew and the ship became a part of that event without any effort or doing on our parts. When we were setting up, the crew would stop what they were doing to help.

Upon Pauline Dion's request, the ship's first mate got up and spoke at the event to the hundreds of interested guests.  The crew ate and danced and made a lasting impression on probably every person there.  

Since the news of the sinking, dozens of people who attended the event have called or emailed me in devastation and sorrow; including the entire band, who told me that they had felt a special connection with the Bounty crew that evening.  To echo the words of all who spoke last night, the memory of their time in Boothbay Harbor will remain in my heart forever.

I will never forget the day I was at the shipyard setting up for the Harbor Fest and a car pulled up from Pennsylvania.  The gentleman said to me, “Excuse me, but do you know what ship that is?”  I said, “Yes, it’s the HMS Bounty.”  

He looked at me as if I was nuts.  

“You’re pulling my leg, right?” I said “No.”  He then said, “Honey, park the car, we’re getting out!”

I feel a huge sense of pride that the owners and captain of this great ship repeatedly chose the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard as their home base for annual maintenance.  And I just want to say “hats off” to each and every person at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for their devotion, professionalism and compassion. They have truly touched me in a way I never expected.

Lori Pecor is a resident of Boothbay Harbor.