Oct. 29, 2012, was a sad day in nautical history as the replica tall ship Bounty sank due to damage from being caught in Hurricane Sandy off the coast of the eastern U.S. A little over eight years later, on December 5th, 2020, Roy Boutilier, one of the original crew members of that ship, quietly passed away in Nova Scotia from Alzheimer’s disease. Roy, who had no previous sailing knowledge, was a last-minute substitute crewman for the hand-built replica built in Lunenburg in 1960. The ship was commissioned by MGM studios for the making of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando and Leslie Howard. The crew’s mission was to sail it to Tahiti and move it around various locations there as filming required. Some, like Roy, were even employed as extras on the set and can be seen in the movie if you know who to look for. He was even befriended by Marlon Brando himself!
Someone who knew Roy well was Janet Coulter Sanford. She and her husband had been friends with Roy and his wife Bev for years before Roy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Janet was quite used to hearing Roy talk about his time on the Bounty and never thought much about it until she realized that these stories would be slowly shut away in Roy’s brain, never to be heard of again. “What a waste,” she thought. Determined to create a small book of remembrances for Roy’s family and friends, she soon realized that Roy had all kinds of stories and a host of memorabilia to go with it.
I was there a long time that first day—astounded and at the material Roy had amassed. Right away I could see that the twenty-five page account I had originally envisioned would never suffice for this rich, little-known story. Encouraged by my enthusiastic reaction, Rov asked, "What do you think, Jan? There's a lot of terrific stuff here, isn't there?" "Yes," I agreed. "You have a wonderful story here. I really had no idea there was so much to tell." Neither of us said anything for a few moments. And then, almost shyly, Roy continued. "I bet you could write a great book about all this. What do you say, Jan?" So, despite all my misgivings, I heard myself say, "Yes, Roy, we're going to write a book! " We would tell the story of Bounty—its Nova Scotian beginnings, the voyage to Tahiti, and its starring movie role. We would tell the stories of the men who sailed with him. We would sort through Roy's photographs and slides and preserve some of those moments in time. Alzheimer's might someday rob my old friend of those memories, but his story would not be lost. I was not aware of it at the time, but I was actually embarking on something more important than just retelling Roy's Bounty stories. But that would only become clear to me as the months passed.
The result is a beautifully wrought memoir of both Roy and the Bounty and the time spent aboard her, and the years after as Roy returned to Nova Scotia and the business of making a living, like so many other of the crew, did. Ms. Coulter Sanford manages to track down two other shipmates of Roy, and their subsequent meeting after all these years is quite poignant, as they pick up where they left off, and tell more stories, new ones that Jan hasn’t heard yet. Another touching moment is when, in 2012, the Bounty visits Lunenburg once again and Roy meets a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutineers. Weeks later, the Bounty is no more after Hurricane Sandy is done with her. With many of Roy’s photos (colour and black & white), newspaper clippings and other ephemera, Memories on the Bounty is a perfect softcover keepsake book for anyone fascinated with nautical history.
Janet Coulter Sanford is a book lover. Throughout her thirty-year career as an English teacher, she championed Canadian literature and fostered a love of reading in many students. A graduate of Mount Allison and Dalhousie Universities, she lives in Moncton, NB, with her husband, John, and her incorrigible golden retriever, Kristy. Memories on the Bounty is her debut book.
- Publisher : Nimbus Publishing Limited (July 27 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771089571
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771089579