This week the Coast Guard began hearings into the sinking of the tall ship Bounty after it sailed into the full force of Hurricane Sandy last October. Once again the attention of the nation is being directed at a tragedy that played out on national TV as the majestic ship was ripped apart by Sandy’s furious winds and waves. Under scrutiny are captain Robin Walbridge’s decision to leave port in New London, Conn., and risk the storm, and the reasons the Bounty lost power near North Carolina on its way to Florida. Citing the investigation, Outside magazine has published a comprehensive piece on the last hours of the Bounty, chronicling not only mechanical failures onboard that pivotal day but problems that had plagued the famous vessel in recent years. The feature concludes with news of plans by Walbridge to convert the ship, whose maintenance had proved costly, into an educational facility for people with disabilities.
This month Los Angeles magazine also dives back into the events leading up to the ship’s devastation. In “The USC Song Girl and the Sea,” writer Matt White re-creates the Coast Guard rescue of 14 of the crew in the seas off North Carolina, and the agony of the discovery that two from the ship had been lost, captain Robin Walbridge and former USC Song Girl Claudene Christian. White looks back at the life of the petite blond cheerleader, from her Alaska childhood to her iconic life on the USC campus to her success as a businesswoman to the legal troubles and South Bay party lifestyle that broke her. Back with her family, Claudene searched for a new purpose and found it in the camaraderie and rigors of life on a tall ship. She had been with the crew six months before the arrival of Sandy, and told friends that she had never been happier.