Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Frivolity On The Bounty

The sight of ropes being thrown from pierside to the waiting deckhands signalled that we were about to depart. Standing on the deck of this wooden three-master, gin and tonic in hand, the incongruity of the glass towers along Central District’s waterfront suddenly struck me. Built in 1979 to star in the fifth movie of its infamous mutiny, the replica of Captain Bligh’s ill-fated HMAV Bounty then slid quietly through the oily waters of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour in pursuit of one of nature’s gifts: the setting sun, which lay essentially due West.

In the heavy afternoon air we chased the fiery orb as it radiated a hazy glow, its rays refracted through layers of polluted atmosphere. Northeast monsoon winds this chilly autumn day had once more played gracious host to an unruly guest, carrying with them trails of noxious gases: a by-product of southern China’s unscrupulous – but equally unstoppable – industrial machine. Bellowed constantly from the world’s factory, clouds of the antisocial miasma were again obscuring Earth’s star to the extent that it resembled an orange buoy floating in a grey sea of gloom. The filtering effect of the smog was sufficient to permit the human eye to stare at it directly, lingering without damage or pain. As we continued to lose our race against sunset, I paused for a moment’s quiet reflection upon how different the setting would have been had the real Bounty sailed through this harbour in 1789, whilst on her fateful journey East.

Passing close to starboard, the roar of a high-speed Macau ferry’s jet engines jolted me back to the present and I instinctively raised an arm to wave at no-one I could see through its darkly tinted windows. The gamblers within were, in any event, most likely engrossed in their first game of paper Mahjong, long before reaching the glitzy, Vegas-inspired casinos established recently in the former Portuguese colony. Not for them, then, the sheer romance of a square-rigger. Back on the deck of the Bounty, the breeze was beginning to freshen, but the alcohol was warming my insides. And as we continued to make way, the sixty guests of the generous shareholders of Lantau Island’s finest bar – Hemingway’s By The Bay – were continuously plied with free-flowing cocktails while munching through a spread of tasty nibbles. The fall of darkness then heralded a new perspective of the vessel’s stunning rigging, comprising scores of ropes arranged in an exact replication of the original. Clever lighting from beneath enabled a perfect view of this elaborate web of shrouds, stays and braces that trailed upwards to meet Bounty’s fighting tops.

A brief survey below decks provided the only source of disappointment during what was otherwise an enchanting experience. With a fair amount of plywood on view it seemed the careful attention to detail that had ensured her external authenticity had not been applied equally to the interior of Bounty’s hull. Expecting to be impressed by chartrooms, a mock-up, perhaps, of a typical eighteenth-century galley and surely a smattering of some historic memorabilia, we were instead treated to a tour of what can only be described as a stainless steel kitchen and some sparsely furnished rooms. Even the ‘great cabin’ – which on the original vessel had been converted to house potted breadfruit plants – was bereft of any real character, consisting of just a few rudimentary benches plus a deep ledge across the full beam of the stern. What role, I found myself asking, had these quarters played during the filming of Dino Di Laurentiis’ classic 1984 version of the historical drama for which this replica had been commissioned? The only possibility was that it had served as a home to members of the make-up team and other auxiliary crew, I decided.

Climbing up the steep stairwell to emerge back on deck, it was evident that this first anniversary party of our bar of choice was in full swing. To a man, the tipsy revellers were indulging not only in spirits, but perhaps imbibing the soul of Bounty herself. Then, after charitably expressing their gratitude for our loyal patronage, Hemingway’s management team continued to lead the festivities as we made our return to this magnificent vessel’s newly established port d’attache of Discovery Bay. The wine flowed freely and we danced to the familiar sounds of Caribbean reggae, so often enjoyed whilst sitting in the bar itself. Under the influence of a few glasses too many there were even one or two who were bold enough to contemplate scaling this classic three-master’s rigging – perhaps in defiance of challenges that had been left behind in the glass towers from which we had earlier escaped, but that were still refusing to back down. On further reflection, these foolhardy ideas were thankfully abandoned – a fear of futtocks, perhaps? – to be replaced by yet more concentrated bingeing.

So it was frivolity – and not mutiny – that had taken place on the Bounty today.

And it had been a privilege.


posted by Kirk at 3:42 am  


  1. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Alex — August 18, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  2. sympathetic location! nicely done!

    Comment by warutoco porned — December 24, 2008 @ 4:06 am

  3. Very interesting site, Hope it will always be alive!

    Comment by mark — April 15, 2009 @ 12:47 am

  4. Thank you, Mark…

    Comment by Kirk — April 15, 2009 @ 6:34 am

  5. Totally, vibrantly beautiful. It refreshed me. Sometimes I forget how deeply I can feel. Thank you, Kirk.

    Comment by Robert S. Powell — July 31, 2014 @ 3:05 am

  6. thank you, Robert

    Comment by Kirk — July 31, 2014 @ 11:22 am

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