Sometime on Sunday the 28th, Prokosh, a bearded, tattooed 27-year-old, was thrown across the tween decks, dislocating his shoulder and breaking several ribs. Christian found a mattress, tacoed Prokosh inside it, and wedged him against the vessel’s starboard side. “Claudene was mothering him,” says Barksdale, “stopping by while she was running around doing her duties to make sure he was comfortable.”
Later that day, Barksdale and Walbridge were in the great cabin in the vessel’s stern when the Bounty hit a large wave. The captain’s lower back struck a bolted-down table, and he crumpled to the floor in pain. With Barksdale’s assistance, Walbridge was able to stand, but for the rest of the voyage he was nearly incapacitated, unable to get around without help.
Down in the engine room, crew members were locked in their own struggle as Faunt, Sanders, Barksdale, and deckhand John Jones tried to keep pace with the water rushing in. “It was over a hundred degrees, we were in shorts and T-shirts and pumping constantly,” says Faunt. A torrent of water was streaming in from the forepeak. Water was pouring from the deck into the crew’s cabins, too. Then, around noon, an urgent all-hands call came from above. Wind had destroyed the forecourse sail.
“Damn near everyone climbed aloft but me,” says Barksdale. The crew ascended more than 50 feet up the rigging, struggling to hold on amid the deeply pitching surf as they furled what remained of the enormous square sail. Once back on deck, they fought to raise the staysail, a small fore-and-aft canvas they hoped would counteract the worst of the violent seas.
The engine room was forgotten. But though the generators’ two-micron filters hadn’t been a problem, another one had emerged: In the chaos, no one had noticed that the sight tube—a narrow piece of glass at the base of the port fuel bay—had broken. By the time the crew realized what had happened, all the fuel had drained from the port tank, shutting off the port engine and generator.
Restarting a diesel engine once it has run out of fuel is a major job. While Faunt and Barksdale got the starboard set running, Sanders struggled to bleed the port system. Eventually, he was able to restart the generator, but the engine remained dead. Meanwhile, water continued to pour in as the ship began to slip its position. To make matters worse, the bilge pumps were clogging with debris. “Things were going south fast,” says Barksdale. “We were fighting and fighting and fighting, but we knew we were losing.”
MANY OF THOSE CLOSE to the Bounty say the fight was lost before the ship ever left dock. It was worn out, they say, and its three overhauls—in 2001, 2006, and 2012—never fully addressed a persistent problem with leaking.
During the 2001 refit—the ship’s biggest overhaul—a good deal of work was done to the hull, but structural weaknesses remained. Deckhands took to calling the ship Bondo Bounty after, they say, they were repeatedly told to fix structural problems with hardware-store polyurethane sealant.