March on the Great Barrier Reef 2013
New Years Day
By Captain Trevor Jackson
It’s a funny feeling when you finally get there….. It can be any place, as long as you’ve dreamt about it your whole life. For me it came slowly into view in the grey morning light on the first dawn of this year. With a suggestion of swell gently lifting and lowering Spoilsport, a tiny nondescript island lay spread to the west of an old stone lighthouse. The sand tracks of twenty thousand turtle’s criss-crossed up and down the beach. Raine Island. Soon enough it was a few miles to our stern and the wreck of the Pandora lay just ahead, a lifetime of day dreaming lay just behind. Finally, the anchor chain rattled out and we were ready. A chance to touch a tangible piece of the greatest sea story ever told. The bones from the “Mutiny on the Bounty” lay scattered beneath us. Buried in the sand were several of those men, tracked down by the crew of the Pandora and shackled to her timbers. They met their fate here in this most distant yet beautiful of places.
It’s been said that not a lot remains of the Pandora, and in several aspects that’s true. Above the seafloor are but a few recognisable features. An anchor, an old oven, some of the copper sheathing from the hull and a few bits and bobs of the rigging hardware. Beneath the sand we know that 90% of her artifacts lay undisturbed and out of sight. As a visual spectacle, unimpressive……we knew it would be, well before we left Cairns. Why then, did every single person on board that glorious New Year’s day, insist on seeing it?
I pondered this question as we lay in wait above the wreck. As the last of the divers returned to the surface an eerie mood had fallen over the boat. I got in myself and spent a quiet few minutes on the wreck. On the platform, dive supervisor Craig Stephen was ready with some questions for me…… ‘Did you enjoy that?”…… “It was fantastic” ………“Why what did you see?”…… I thought for a few seconds before answering …. ”Well you know , it’s not so much what you see, as how you feel……We’re touching history. There’s a direct line between these divers here, and the sordid decks of the Bounty. In a way, we, and the mutineers, have shared a common ground. Visually it certainly wasn’t much to look at, but in terms of an experience…..well I’ve dreamt about this place since I was a kid……….now that we’re here? Well I don’t think there would be a better way to spend New Year’s Day”
Photos of the Month