“This will be a tough voyage for Bounty,” read a posting on the ship’s Facebook page that showed a map of its coordinates and satellite images of the storm. Photos showed the majestic vessel plying deep blue waters and the crew working in the rigging or keeping watch on the wood-planked deck.
As Sandy’s massive size became more apparent, a post on Saturday tried to soothe any worried supporters: “Rest assured that the Bounty is safe and in very capable hands. Bounty’s current voyage is a calculated decision … NOT AT ALL … irresponsible or with a lack of foresight as some have suggested. The fact of the matter is … A SHIP IS SAFER AT SEA THAN IN PORT!”
But as the storm gathered strength, the Facebook posts grew grimmer. By midmorning Monday, the last update was short and ominous: “Please bear with us. … There are so many conflicting stories going on now. We are waiting for some confirmation.”
Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organization, said the ship tried to stay clear of Sandy’s power.
“It was something that we and the captain of the ship were aware of,” Ms. Simonin said.
Coast Guard video of the rescue showed crew members being loaded one by one into a basket before the basket was hoisted into the helicopter.
When they returned to the mainland, some were wrapped in blankets, still wearing the blazing-red survival suits they put on to stay warm in the chilly waters.
The survivors received medical attention and were to be interviewed for a Coast Guard investigation. The Coast Guard did not make them available to reporters.
Gary Farber was watching crewman Doug Faunt’s house while his friend sailed. He hasn’t heard from Mr. Faunt directly but made sure he relayed Mr. Faunt’s Facebook postings he made as the ship went down, including, “The ship sank beneath us, but we swam free and mostly got into two rafts.”
The Bounty’s captain was from St. Petersburg and learned to sail at age 10, according to his biography on the Bounty’s website. Prior to the Bounty, he served as first mate on the HMS Rose, the Bounty’s sister ship.
“The ship was almost like his home,” said Ms. Smith, who met Mr. Walbridge in 2010 when she sailed the Bounty. “That’s where he spent most of his time was aboard the ship. He was so full of history and so interesting to talk to. And he knew his sailing stuff.”
Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C.; Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark.; Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Greg Schreier in Atlanta; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.
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