GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 30, 2012

Coast Guard hopeful about finding Bounty's captain

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The Coast Guard is using ships and airplanes to search the Atlantic today for the captain of the HMS Bounty, a Gloucester visitor, which went down during Hurricane Sandy


The Coast Guard was optimistic Robin Walbridge, 63, of St. Petersburg, Fla., could still be alive in his blazing red survival suit 90 miles off the North Carolina coast. Walbridge went overboard early Monday when the replica 18th-century sailing vessel, made famous in Hollywood adventure films, rolled over in 18-foot waves.

The searched for him was hampered by 15-feet waves, but the water temperature was about 77 degrees.

"There's a lot of factors that go into survivability. Right now we're going to continue to search. Right now we're hopeful," Coast Guard Capt. Joe Kelly said.


Daisy Nell, a founder of the Gloucester Schooner Festival and an avid sailor, is among those on Cape Ann who met the captain and crew over the Labor Day weekend festival about seven weeks ago."They had come to the events during the weekend and they welcomed thousands of people on board during the schooner weekend. They came to the Sunday reception and everyone seemed to have a great time," said Nell. She said the news of the HMS Bounty is tragic on several different levels.

"The main concern is always about the safety of the people and so sadly there are two who are presumed lost," she said. "It reminds those of us who have been around other tragedies. Things can happen out there and there is nothing more powerful than the ocean. How can you not think of the Perfect Storm and the Can Do and many others. All these things hit Gloucester close to home."

The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members of the Bounty by helicopter Monday. Hours later, they found crew member Claudene Christian, 42, unresponsive. She was later declared dead. The rest of the crew was in good condition.

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