The Eruption

On Tuesday, April 28, 1789, Bligh wrote in his journal:

' ...just before sunrise, Mr Christian, Mate, Chas. Churchill, Ship's Corporal, John Mills, Gunner's Mate, and Thomas Birkett, Seaman, came into my cabin while I was asleep, and seizing me tyed my hands with a cord behind my back, and threatened me with instant death if I spoke or made the least noise.

I was forced on Deck in my shirt, suffering great pain from the Violence with which they had tied my hands. I demanded the reason for such a violent act but I received no Answer but threats of instant death if I did not hold my tongue.

..........I continued to endeavour to change the Tide of Affairs, when Christian changed the Cutlass he had in his hand for a Bayonet that was brought to him, and holding me with a Strong Grip to the cord that tied my hands, continued to threaten me with instant death if I did not be quiet.

The Villains around me had their pieces cocked and Bayonets fixed, and particular People were now Called upon to go in the Boat, and were hurried over the side, with these people I concluded of course I was to be set adrift.

...When we came away, "Huzzah for Otaheite" was frequently heard among the Mutineers'.

Bligh was in sight of Tofua and made landing there that very night. As the Britishers were gathering provisions, they were showered with stones. The quartermaster was killed and the others were lucky to be able to launch the boat.

Bligh decided to head for Timor. The Norfolk Island colony was thousands of miles closer but Bligh either was unaware that it had been established or considered it unwise to attempt to seek out such a tiny dot without a map. (Had he done so, Norfolk may have eventually seen descendants of the loyalists living alongside those of the mutineers!)

What was to follow was one of the most astonishing feats of navigation - and raw, unremit-ting courage - in the history of the sea.

Norfolk Island History in Detail

Colonisation
Early Days
The 'Bounty' Connection
Tahiti
Seeds of Mutiny
Eruption
The Open Boat Journey
Starvation on Norfolk
Fate of the Bounty Mutineers
The Noble Savages
Second Settlement
Hell in Paradise
Pitcairn to Norfolk