SI Vault
Gilbert Wheat
November 20, 1961
In November of a year-long voyage through the South Pacific, Author Gilbert Wheat and five others—Co-captain Hank Taft, Crewmen Dick Sargent, Juanito Bugue�o, Jack Smith and Eduard Ingris—left Tahiti aboard the ketch "Blue Sea" Their destination, 1,200 miles to the southeast, was Pitcairn Island, a forbidding mound of rock inhabited by 150 persons, most of them descended from the men who seized and destroyed history's most famous ship, H.M.S. "Bounty." There is no harbor on Pit cairn, no dock, no hotel, not even a store; yet for 170 years this tiny island has supported an independent and—surprisingly—puritanical community. On page 45 Wheat begins the story of his visit with these fascinating people, the true inheritors of the mutiny on the "Bounty."
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November 20, 1961

Legacy Of The Bounty

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Suddenly it was over. The boat swirled into a patch of calm water, nosed gently onto a gravel beach, and everyone jumped overboard. I managed to land on the beach without even getting my feet wet; the boat crew dismantled the rudder and pushed the boat around to align it with the rollers. An elderly man came briskly up the beach and introduced himself as Theo Young, a direct descendant of Midshipman Young, an officer on the Bounty. Theo wore a sailor hat and a tiny pair of rimless glasses. His feet were tough and brown from no shoes.

"Stay at my place, Cap," he said. "Plenty food, clean bed.... Stay as long as you please."

I thanked him, and he led me at once up the steep path to Adamstown, the island's only settlement. Following behind us was Jack Smith with his new host, John Christian (descended from Fletcher Christian), the island magistrate, and next came Eduard Ingris, adopted by Herman Schubert, the schoolmaster. The procession grew. A jaunty little man clapped me on the back. His grin revealed no front teeth.

"This here is Morris," said Theo. "Morris Christian."

Morris pumped my hand. "O.K., Cap!" he said.

Morris wore blue jeans and a Boy Scout shirt from Redwood City, California. In his breast pocket he sported a row of neatly sharpened pencils. Theo noticed my surprise over the shirt.

"We get duds from America," Theo said. "The Seventh-day Adventists send so much we got a bag for you to take to Easter Island if you going there."

The procession continued up the path. After a climb of about 300 feet, we reached a plateau known simply as The Edge. Old people and children were sitting on a long bench. As we neared the bench, two spare, muscular old men rose to greet us. They were Parkin Christian and his brother, Fred, both 77, and the oldest men on the island. Their faces had the handsome brown coloring we had seen in the natives of Tahiti. Parkin and Fred introduced us to the people on the bench, and we proceeded once more along the main street of Adamstown—a 10-foot-wide dirt path winding along the cliff edge, with wooden houses on either side. Fred pointed to the smooth-raked path.

"We sweep her every Friday," he said. "Each man is responsible for the part in front of his own house.... Did they tell you about public work?"

"No," I said, "they haven't."

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