Bicentenary Sheetlet 1


Bicentenary Sheetlet 1: Voyage of HMAV Bounty to Tahiti to collect Breadfruit
 
            22 February 1990             6 x 20c                                             Mint and CTO        $1.20
                                                                                                             FDC                       $1.70

Technical Details

        Release Date:                    22 February 1990
        Tablet Values:                   6 x 40c
        Artist:                                Clive Abbott
        Printer:                              The House of Questa Limited
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       28.45 x 42.58 mm
        Perforation Gauge:            14 per 2 cm
        Pane Format:                    Sheetlet 105 x 152 mm of six stamps with brief descriptive text
        Mint and CTO:                 $1.20
        First Day Cover:               $1.70


Bicentenary Sheetlet No 1 is the first of three to be issued to mark the events of two hundred years ago which led to the settlement of Pitcairn Island.

There will be few readers with an interest in Pitcairn who do not know the story of how His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty (215 tons), was despatched form Spithead, England, on 23 December 1787, under the command of Lieutenant William Bligh, to collect breadfruit plants form Tahiti and to transport them to the West Indies.

Forty six men, including the commander, a botanist and a gardener, departed that day on a voyage which became one of the best-known and oft-told stories in the annals of the sea.

Due to delays caused by contrary winds Commander Bligh, after "thirty days in this tempestuous ocean', concluded he was unable to carry out his instructions from the Admiralty to round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean.  Instead he made use of discretionary orders and took an eastward course passing Tristan da Cunha en route to Capetown, where Bounty stopped for 38 days from 24 May 1788.

Commander Bligh made his next stop at Adventure Bay, Tasmania, on 2 August 1788, to replenish water and firewood supplies before sailing on 4 September for Tahiti.  Bounty first dropped anchor there at 9 am on Sunday 26 October 1788 in Matavai Bay.

Bligh had previously visited Tahiti eleven years earlier with Captain Cook.  A camp had been set up at Matavai Bay and a party from Bounty erected a tent in the same area to sere as a base for the collection of breadfruit.

In his account, "A Voyage to the South Seas", Bligh records some of the events which occurred during their five month stay:  instances of petty theft, the death of the ship's surgeon, entertainment of various sorts provided by the local inhabitants, the desertion by three of the ship's company and their subsequent recapture, his disappointment at the lack of concern for the well-being of cattle given to the people by Cook in 1777, his anger at finding the ship's anchor cable almost severed on one occasion, and the many courtesies and kindnesses bestowed on the ship's crew by the island population.

Social success was matched by the work carried out by the botanist, the gardener and their assistants.  Of Tuesday 31 March 1789, Bligh writes, "...all the plants were on board, being in 774 pots, 39 tubs, and 24 boxes.  The number of breadfruit plants were 1015; besides which, we had collected a number of other plants."