A historic ship headed for St. Petersburg was no match for the fury of Superstorm Sandy. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members after the HMS Bounty sank off the coast of North Carolina.
Another crew member was found dead and 63-year-old Captain Robin Walbridge of St. Pete is still missing.
The ship was supposed to be on display next month in St. Pete. It was a visit so many people were looking forward to.
The HMS Bounty was a regular fixture near the Pier for years. We spoke with a former captain and crew member about their glory days and about the tragedy.
"I think I cried, yeah it was so sad. It was so much of our lives, you know, to lose it was like losing a best friend," said Hugh Boyd, who was captain of the HMS from 1976 to 1988.
He has many incredible memories he said he will cherish for a lifetime.
"It is such a shame because she's a beautiful vessel, a lot of people put a lot of their lives work into it, and to have her go now is a sad, sad thing," said Boyd.
The U.S. Coast Guard plucked 14 people from the churning seas off Cape Hatteras in roughly 40-foot seas. One person recovered was dead, and still missing is Bounty Captain Walbridge.
It is not clear when Walbridge got separated from the others, but the Coast Guard said he was wearing protective gear that should keep him alive in the cold Atlantic waters for 12 to 15 hours.
"But to be out in that weather, that was a chancey thing, that was rough," said Boyd.
They were headed to St. Pete for a short visit.
"She's gone," said Roy Boutilier of Canada. "She's gone, yeah."
Boutilier signed-on when he was 19 in 1960, as an original crew member.
"I feel so blessed to be able to say that I sailed on the Bounty, I do," said Boutilier.
The two have been friends ever since. Boutilier just happened to be visiting St. Pete this week, helping the Boyd's celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
"Sadness, a tremendous, tremendous sadness," said Boutilier.
Last month, he met a direct descendant of the lead mutineer, while at a crew reunion in Nova Scotia. She's now a crew member, and he hopes she was among those rescued.
"And believe me, my heart was with each and every person on board, I knew what they were going through," said Boutilier.
"The ship was an amazing ship. Everybody that stepped aboard her fell in love with her. I don't know why or what it was, but there was just something about her. She just had a majestic grace to her," said Robert Hansen, who is the current owner of the HMS Bounty.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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