The original ship H.M.A.V. Bounty was built in 1784 as a trading vessel. Under the order of King George III in 1787, she was refitted to create a greenhouse for shipping breadfruit plants, and was renamed "His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty". On 5th August 1787, Captain William Bligh was appointed Commander of the Bounty by the British Admiralty, who then went on the voyage to the West Indies.
A Tough Voyage
The expedition of the Bounty left on 23rd December 1787 with 46 officers and crew. Captain William Bligh's orders were to sail to Tahiti and collected young breadfruit trees which is a source of food for the native labour.
Captain Bligh was not cruel to his crew, but his short temper led him to criticise his officers in front of the crew... not the way to help maintain order. Compounded with tough sailing conditions, there was a great deal of bad-feeling amongst the crew. To overcome some of these problems, Captain Bligh promoted Fletcher Christian, one of the main mutineers later on, from Master's Mate to acting Lieutenant.
They reached Tahiti on the 26th October 1788 and six months passed before the breadfruit plants were acclimatised and weather conditions was good enough to commence the voyage to the West Indies. In this time, Polynesians liked visits by white men and they treated the Bounty's crew very well, that made the crew naturally became lazy.
The Historic Mutiny
The Bounty left Tahiti on 4th April 1789, Captain Bligh found that the crew had let some of the sails rot and there were many items missing from the ship. Captain Bligh was in a bad mood and it became obvious to everyone that he and Fletcher Christian were arguing, made the morale of the crew even worse. Only three weeks after setting sail for the West Indies, Captain Bligh was mutinied against and cast adrift in Bounty's 7-metre (23-feet) longboat with 18 loyal crew members. The Bounty was taken by Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers.
Through Captain Bligh's great skills as a navigator, he was able to sail this little boat to Timor, a trip of 6705 kilometres (4000 miles) in 41 days with the loss of only one life. This was one of the most amazing sailing achievements ever completed. He later purchased another ship, delivered the breadfruit to the West Indies, discovered Fiji and became the Governor of New South Wales.
Most of the mutineers were dropped off back in Tahiti and the others, led by Christian, took a number of natives on board and sailed off to find a more remote island where would be less chance of being discovered. This led to their settlement on Pitcairn Islands and later Norfolk Islands.