Bounty sinking stirs memories

By Mike Barrington

The Northern Advocate's front-page report yesterday about an HMS Bounty replica sinking off the US coast stirred memories for old Whangarei seadog Don Nightingale.

He worked on the sunken ship which was not the same Bounty built in Whangarei in 1979 and used in the 1984 Dino De Laurentiis film The Bounty.

The Bounty which sank when caught by Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina coast this week was built in Nova Scotia in 1962 for the MGM film Mutiny on the Bounty which starred Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard.

Mr Nightingale, who is developing a car museum at Glenbervie on the eastern outskirts of Whangarei, was hired in Tahiti as an extra for the 1962 movie and appeared on screen as a sailor high in the yardarms on the Bounty. He met Brando - a "regular guy" whom he liked - and Howard, who he said "liked a drink".

Mr Nightingale, then aged in his 20s, was in Tahiti early in a long voyage of overseas exploration he undertook after three years in the army, which included infantry service in Malaya with the 1st Battalion NZ Regiment.

From Tahiti, he sailed to New York, where he was working at a Long Island shipyard where the Bounty was taken after its movie role was over and "stripped" for winter, so Mr Nightingale was back up the masts removing rigging and sails.

From Long Island, Mr Nightingale moved to Cape Cod, where he set up a boys' sailing camp. Around that time he also visited the shipyard in Nova Scotia where the Bounty had been built off Admiralty plans, but significantly larger to accommodate the film crew and equipment.

"It was traditional construction, not like the steel boat built in Whangarei," he said.

He lost track of the Bounty, but an internet search showed it was sailed to Britain in 2007 and visited several ports masquerading as the pirate ship The Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

- Northern Advocate

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