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Never Turn a Blind Eye to the Storm

Words and Tune by Charles Ipcar 2013

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H. M. S Bounty Now she went down last October in a massive hurricane;
The waves were running mountain high, with driving wind and rain;
Ninety miles off Hatteras, she couldn't take no more,
And the H. M. S. Bounty she rolled o'er!
There were sixteen souls a-board her, Captain Walbridge and his crew;
He'd sailed this ship nigh twenty years and knew just what to do;
But her frames were filled with rot, and her pumps were known to fail;
Should such a ship ever have set sail?(2X)

Chorus:
Never turn a blind eye to the storm, I say;
The sea is unforgiving; she'll snatch your life away;
Learn your trade, weigh the risks, and you'll see better days,
Never turn a blind eye to the storm,
Never turn a blind eye to the storm!

What was that captain thinking to leave port that day,
With a fast approaching hurricane directly in his way?
But he reassured his crew, "We'll be safer out to sea!"
And who were they to question his decree?
They refit the ship in Boothbay, so much rot was found;
Planks and frames ripped out, replaced, but still more were unsound;
"Caulk her up and paint her; I'm sure she'll do just fine;
We've got to reach St. Petersburg on time!" (2X)

Chorus

The ship was working hard, as she beat into the wind,
The captain shifted course southwest to save more time again;
But the only time he saved was the cruelest kind of pause,
As the great storm snatched the ship into its mighty claws;
The engine room was flooded as the seams gaped open wide;
The pumps were overwhelmed as the diesel engines died;
For the captain and his crew, it was their final trip,
They prepared the life rafts to abandon ship. (2X)

Chorus

Fourteen souls the Coast Guard saved on that fateful day;
The captain, he's still missing since he was swept away;
One deckhand was found dead, the newest member of the crew;
She'd always dreamed of sailing out into that endless blue;
Now there's nothing left to fathom but the questions and the pain;
The Bounty's on the bottom, she'll never rise again;
Ye mariners take warning, heed the sea in all its forms,
And never turn a blind eye to the storm,
Never turn a blind eye to the storm!

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Notes:

This song is largely based on the testimony provided at the recent Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking of the tall-ship Bounty in October of 2012. I've been following the testimony live and the summaries by retired Coast Guard officer Mario Vittrano at the Facebook g-Captain forum; I find his summaries compassionate to the crew members but critical when it comes to safety and good judgment. I resisted composing the song until the hearings were complete. I think a message needs to be sent out to our friends in the tall-ship community, while this event is still fresh in our minds. It's true that the message won't be welcome by some, and painful to others. I regret that. But we should do all we can to ensure such a tragedy does not happen again.

The credit for the header graphic: Photo by the U.S. Coast Guard showing the 180-foot tall ship, HMS Bounty, as it sank in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., October 29, 2012, photographed by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski.

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