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Under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England and putting an end to her involvement in the Spanish Netherlands and in privateering in the Atlantic and Pacific.
The Armada reached and anchored outside Gravelines, but, while awaiting communications from Parma's army, it was driven out by an English fire shipattack. In the ensuing battle, the Spanish fleet was forced to abandon its rendezvous. The Armada managed to regroup and withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. It was then decided that the fleet should return to Spain and the fleet sailed around Scotland and Ireland, but severe storms disrupted it. More than 24 vessels were wrecked on the coasts of Ireland. Of the fleet's initial 130 ships, about fifty never returned to Spain.
The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604). The following year England organised a similar large-scale campaign against Spain, the Drake-Norris Expedition, also known as the Counter Armada of 1589, which also ended in defeat.
Philip II of Spain had been co-monarch of England until the death of his wife,Mary I, in 1558. A devout Roman Catholic, he deemed Mary's half-sister Elizabeth a heretic and illegitimate ruler of England. He had previously supported plots to have her overthrown in favour of her Catholic cousin andheir presumptive, Mary, Queen of Scots, but was thwarted when Elizabeth had Mary imprisoned, and finally executed in 1587. In addition Elizabeth, who sought to advance the cause of Protestantism where possible, had supported the Dutch Revolt against Spain. In retaliation, Philip planned an expedition to invade England and overthrow the Protestant regime of Elizabeth, thereby ending the English material support for the United Provinces - the part of theLow Countries that had successfully seceded from Spanish rule – and cutting off English attacks on Spanish trade and settlements in the New World. The king was supported by Pope Sixtus V, who treated the invasion as acrusade, with the promise of a subsidy should the Armada make land.
The Armada's appointed commander was the highly experienced Álvaro de Bazán, Marquis of Santa Cruz, but he died in February 1588 and The Duke of Medina Sidonia, a high-born courtier with no experience at sea, took his place. The fleet set out with 22 warships of the Spanish Royal Navy and 108 converted merchant vessels, with the intention of sailing through the English Channel to anchor off the coast of Flanders, where the Duke of Parma's army of tercios would stand ready for an invasion of the south east of England.
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Route taken by the Spanish Armada
Main article: List of ships of the Spanish Armada
Prior to the undertaking, Pope Sixtus V allowed Philip II of Spain to collectcrusade taxes and granted his men indulgences. The blessing of the Armada's banner on 25 April 1588 was similar to the ceremony used prior to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. On 28 May 1588 the Armada set sail from Lisbon(Portugal) and headed for the English Channel. The fleet was composed of 151 ships, 8,000 sailors and 18,000 soldiers, and bore 1,500 brass guns and 1,000 iron guns. The full body of the fleet took two days to leave port. It contained 28 purpose-built warships: twenty galleons, four galleys and four (Neapolitan)galleasses. The remainder of the heavy vessels were mostly armed carracksandhulks; there were also 34 light ships.
In the Spanish Netherlands 30,000 soldiers awaited the arrival of the armada, the plan being to use the cover of the warships to convey the army on barges to a place near London. All told, 55,000 men were to have been mustered, a huge army for that time. On the day the Armada set sail, Elizabeth's ambassador in the Netherlands, Valentine Dale, met Parma's representatives in peace negotiations. The English made a vain effort to intercept the Armada in the Bay of Biscay.
On 16 July negotiations were abandoned, and the English fleet stood prepared, if ill-supplied, at Plymouth, awaiting news of Spanish movements. The English fleet outnumbered the Spanish, with 200 ships to 130, while the Spanish fleet outgunned the English—its available firepower was 50% more than that of the English.The English fleet consisted of the 34 ships of the royal fleet (21 of which were galleons of 200 to 400 tons), and 163 other ships, 30 of which were of 200 to 400 tons and carried up to 42 guns each; 12 of these wereprivateers owned by Lord Howard of Effingham, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake.
Signal station built in 1588 above the Devon village of Culmstock, to warn when the Armada was sighted
The Armada was delayed by bad weather, forcing the four galleys and one of the galleons to leave the fleet, and was not sighted in England until 19 July, when it appeared off The Lizard in Cornwall. The news was conveyed to London by a system of beacons that had been constructed all the way along the south coast. On that evening the English fleet was trapped in Plymouth Harbour by the incoming tide. The Spanish convened a council of war, where it was proposed to ride into the harbour on the tide and incapacitate the defending ships at anchor and from there to attack England; but Medina Sidonia declined to act because this had been explicitly forbidden by Philip, and decided to sail on to the east and towards the Isle of Wight. As the tide turned, 55 English ships set out to confront them from Plymouth under the command of Lord Howard of Effingham, with Sir Francis Drake as Vice Admiral. Howard ceded some control to Drake, given his experience in battle. The Rear Admiral was Sir John Hawkins.
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham
On 20 July the English fleet was off Eddystone Rocks, with the Armada upwind to the west. That night, in order to execute their attack, the English tacked upwind of the Armada, thus gaining the weather gage, a significant advantage.
At daybreak on 21 July the English fleet engaged the Armada off Plymouth near the Eddystone rocks. The Armada was in a crescent-shaped defensive formation, convex towards the east. The galleons and great ships were concentrated in the centre and at the tips of the crescent's horns, giving cover to the transports and supply ships in between. Opposing them the English were in two sections, Drake to the north in Revenge with 11 ships, and Howard to the south in Ark Royal with the bulk of the fleet. Given the Spanish advantage in close-quarter fighting, the English ships used their superior speed and manoeuvrability to keep beyond grappling range and bombarded the Spanish ships from a distance with cannon fire. However the distance was too great for this to be effective, and at the end of the first day's fighting neither fleet had lost a ship in action, although the Spanish carrack Rosario and galleon San Salvador were abandoned after they collided. When night fell, Francis Drake turned his ship back to loot the Spanish ships, capturing supplies of much-needed gunpowder, and gold. However, Drake had been guiding the English fleet by means of a lantern. Because he snuffed out the lantern and slipped away for the abandoned Spanish ships, the rest of his fleet became scattered and was in complete disarray by dawn. It took an entire day for the English fleet to regroup and the Armada gained a day's grace. The English ships then used their superior speed and manoeuvrability to catch up with the Spanish fleet after a day of sailing.
On 23 July the English fleet and the Armada engaged once more, off Portland. This time a change of wind gave the Spanish the weather-gage, and they sought to close with the English, but were foiled by the smaller ships' greater manoeuvrability. At one point Howard formed his ships into a line of battle, to attack at close range bringing all his guns to bear, but this was not followed through and little was achieved.
If the Armada could create a temporary base in the protected waters of theSolent (a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the English mainland), they could wait there for word from Parma's army. However, in a full-scale attack, the English fleet broke into four groups – Martin Frobisher of the Aid now also being given command over a squadron – with Drake coming in with a large force from the south. At the critical moment Medina Sidonia sent reinforcements south and ordered the Armada back to open sea to avoid the Owerssandbanks. There were no other secure harbours further east along England's south coast, so the Armada was compelled to make for Calais, without being able to wait for word of Parma's army.
On 27 July the Armada anchored off Calais in a tightly-packed defensive crescent formation, not far from Dunkirk, where Parma's army, reduced by disease to 16,000, was expected to be waiting, ready to join the fleet in barges sent from ports along the Flemish coast. Communication had proven to be far more difficult than anticipated, and it only now became known that this army had yet to be equipped with sufficient transport or assembled in the port, a process which would take at least six days, while Medina Sidonia waited at anchor; and that Dunkirk was blockaded by a Dutch fleet of thirty flyboatsunder Lieutenant-Admiral Justin of Nassau. Parma wanted the Armada to send its lightpetaches to drive away the Dutch, but Medina Sidonia could not do this because he feared that he might need these ships for his own protection. There was no deep-water port where the fleet might shelter – always acknowledged as a major difficulty for the expedition – and the Spanish found themselves vulnerable as night drew on. At midnight on 28 July, the English set alight eight fireships, sacrificing regular warships by filling them with pitch,brimstone, some gunpowder and tar, and cast them downwind among the closely anchored vessels of the Armada. The Spanish feared that these uncommonly large fireships were "hellburners", specialised fireships filled with large gunpowder charges, which had been used to deadly effect at theSiege of Antwerp. Two were intercepted and towed away, but the remainder bore down on the fleet. Medina Sidonia's flagship and the principal warships held their positions, but the rest of the fleet cut their anchor cables and scattered in confusion. No Spanish ships were burnt, but the crescent formation had been broken, and the fleet now found itself too far to leeward of Calais in the rising southwesterly wind to recover its position. The English closed in for battle.
Battle of Gravelines
Sir Francis Drake in 1591
The small port of Gravelines was then part of Flanders in the Spanish Netherlands, close to the border with France and the closest Spanish territory to England. Medina Sidonia tried to re-form his fleet there and was reluctant to sail further east knowing the danger from the shoals off Flanders, from which his Dutch enemies had removed the sea marks.
The English had learned more of the Armada's strengths and weaknesses during the skirmishes in the English Channel and had concluded it was necessary to close within 100 yards to penetrate the oak hulls of the Spanish ships. They had spent most of their gunpowder in the first engagements, and had after the Isle of Wight been forced to conserve their heavy shot and powder for a final attack near Gravelines. During all the engagements, the Spanish heavy guns could not easily be run in for reloading because of their close spacing and the quantities of supplies stowed between decks, as Francis Drake had discovered on capturing the damaged Rosario in the Channel.Instead the gunners fired once and then jumped to the rigging to attend to their main task as marines ready to board enemy ships, as had been the practice in naval warfare at the time. In fact, evidence from Armada wrecks in Ireland shows that much of the fleet's ammunition was never spent. Their determination to fight by boarding, rather than cannon fire at a distance, proved a weakness for the Spanish; it had been effective on occasions such as the battles of Lepanto and Ponta Delgada (1582), but the English were aware of this strength and sought to avoid it by keeping their distance.
With its superior manoeuvrability, the English fleet provoked Spanish fire while staying out of range. The English then closed, firing repeated and damaging broadsides into the enemy ships. This also enabled them to maintain a position to windward so that the heeling Armada hulls were exposed to damage below the water line. Many of the gunners were killed or wounded, and the task of manning the cannon often fell to the regular foot soldiers on board, who did not know how to operate the guns. The ships were close enough for sailors on the upper decks of the English and Spanish ships to exchange musket fire. After eight hours, the English ships began to run out of ammunition, and some gunners began loading objects such as chains into cannons. Around 4:00 pm, the English fired their last shots and were forced to pull back.
Five Spanish ships were lost. The galleass San Lorenzo ran aground at Calais and was taken by Howard after murderous fighting between the crew, the galley slaves, the English, and the French, who ultimately took possession of the wreck. The galleons San Mateo and San Felipe drifted away in a sinking condition, ran aground on the island of Walcheren the next day, and were taken by the Dutch. One carrack ran aground near Blankenberge; another foundered. Many other Spanish ships were severely damaged, especially the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic-class galleons which had to bear the brunt of the fighting during the early hours of the battle in desperate individual actions against groups of English ships. The Spanish plan to join with Parma's army had been defeated and the English had gained some breathing space, but the Armada's presence in northern waters still posed a great threat to England.
Elizabeth I of England, the Armada portrait
Main article: Speech to the Troops at Tilbury
On the day after the battle of Gravelines, the wind had backed southerly, enabling Medina Sidonia to move his fleet northward away from the French coast. Although their shot lockers were almost empty, the English pursued in an attempt to prevent the enemy from returning to escort Parma. On 2 AugustOld Style (12 August New Style) Howard called a halt to the pursuit in the latitude of the Firth of Forth off Scotland. By that point, the Spanish were suffering from thirst and exhaustion, and the only option left to Medina Sidonia was to chart a course home to Spain, by a very hazardous route.
The threat of invasion from the Netherlands had not yet been discounted by the English, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester maintained a force of 4,000 soldiers atWest Tilbury, Essex, to defend the Thames Estuary against any incursion up-river towards London.
On 8 August (Old Style) (18 August New Style) Queen Elizabeth went to Tilbury to encourage her forces, and the next day gave to them what is probably her most famous speech:
The wrecking of La Girona
In September 1588 the Armada sailed around Scotland and Ireland into the North Atlantic. The ships were beginning to show wear from the long voyage, and some were kept together by having their hulls bundled up with cables. Supplies of food and water ran short, and the cavalry horses were cast overboard into the sea. The intention would have been to keep well to the west of the coast of Scotland and Ireland, in the relative safety of the open sea. However, there being at that time no way of accurately measuring longitude, the Spanish were not aware that the Gulf Stream was carrying them north and east as they tried to move west, and they eventually turned south much further to the east than planned, a devastating navigational error. Off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland the fleet ran into a series of powerful westerly gales, which drove many of the damaged ships further towards the lee shore. Because so many anchors had been abandoned during the escape from the English fireships off Calais, many of the ships were incapable of securing shelter as they reached the coast of Ireland and were driven onto the rocks. The late 16th century, and especially 1588, was marked by unusually strong North Atlantic storms, perhaps associated with a high accumulation of polar ice off the coast ofGreenland, a characteristic phenomenon of the "Little Ice Age." As a result many more ships and sailors were lost to cold and stormy weather than in combat.
Following the gales it is reckoned that 5,000 men died, whether by drowning and starvation or by slaughter at the hands of English forces after they were driven ashore in Ireland; only half of the Spanish Armada fleet returned home to Spain. Reports of the passage around Ireland abound with strange accounts of brutality and survival and attest to the qualities of the Spanish seamanship. Some survivors were concealed by Irish people, but few shipwrecked Spaniards survived to be taken into Irish service, fewer still to return home.
In the end, 67 ships and around 10,000 men survived. Many of the men were near death from disease, as the conditions were very cramped and most of the ships ran out of food and water. Many more died in Spain, or on hospital ships in Spanish harbours, from diseases contracted during the voyage. It was reported that, when Philip II learned of the result of the expedition, he declared, "I sent the Armada against men, not God's winds and waves".
The Spanish Barn in Torquay held 397 Spanish prisoners of war.
A plaque in the Spanish Barn
English losses stood at 50–100 dead and 400 wounded, and none of their ships had been sunk. But after the victory, typhus, dysentery and hunger killed many sailors and troops (estimated at 6,000–8,000) as they were discharged without pay: a demoralising dispute occasioned by the government's fiscal shortfalls left many of the English defenders unpaid for months, which was in contrast to the assistance given by the Spanish government to its surviving men.
The English fleet was unable to prevent the regrouping of the Armada at the Battle of Gravelines, requiring it to remain on duty even as thousands of its sailors died. The following year Elizabeth I launched the Counter Armada, under Sir Francis Drake, but it was decisively defeated by Spanish naval forces resulting in Phillip II retaining naval superiority for the next ten years.
The outcome vindicated the English strategy and resulted in a revolution in naval battle tactics with the promotion of gunnery, which until then had played a supporting role to the tasks of ramming and boarding; although the actual battle was indecisive and the losses suffered in it were relatively minor. Still, some military historians hold that the battle of Gravelines reflected a lasting shift in the balance of naval power in favour of the English, in part because of the gap in naval technology and armament it confirmed between the two nations, which continued into the next century. In the words ofGeoffrey Parker, by 1588 'the capital ships of the Elizabethan navy constituted the most powerful battlefleet afloat anywhere in the world.' The English navy yards were leaders in technical innovation, and the captains devised new tactics. Geoffrey Parker argues that the full-rigged ship was one of the greatest technological advances of the century and permanently transformed naval warfare. In 1573 English shipwrights introduced designs, first demonstrated in the "Dreadnaught," that allowed the ships to sail faster and maneuver better and permitted heavier guns.Whereas before warships had tried to grapple with each other so that soldiers could board the enemy ship, now they more often stood off and fired broadsides that could sink the enemy vessel.
Superior English ships and seamanship had foiled the invasion. Technically, the Armada failed because Spain's over-complex strategy required coordination between the invasion fleet and the Spanish army on shore. But the poor design of the Spanish cannon meant they were much slower in reloading in a close-range battle, allowing the English to take control. Spain still had numerically larger fleets, but England was catching up.
In England, the boost to national pride lasted for years, and Elizabeth's legend persisted and grew long after her death. The repulsing of the Spanish naval force may have given heart to the Protestant cause across Europe and the belief that God was behind the Protestant cause. This was shown by the striking of commemorative medals that bore variations on the inscription, "1588. Flavit Jehovah et Dissipati Sunt" - with "Jehovah" in Hebrew letters ("God blew, and they were scattered"), or He blew with His winds, and they were scattered. There were also more lighthearted medals struck, such as the one with the play on the words of Julius Caesar: Venit, Vidit, Fugit (he came, he saw, he fled). The victory was acclaimed by the English as their greatest since Agincourt.
However, an attempt to press home the English advantage failed the following year, when the Drake–Norris Expedition of 1589, with a comparable fleet of English privateers, sailed to establish a base in theAzores, attack Spain, and raise a revolt in Portugal. The English Armada raided Corunna, but withdrew from Lisbon after failing to co-ordinate its strategy effectively with the Portuguese.
In 1596 and 1597, two more armadas were sent but were scattered by storms.
The Spanish Navy underwent a major organisational reform that helped it to maintain control over its trans-Atlantic routes. High-seas buccaneering and the supply of troops to Philip II's enemies in the Netherlands and France continued, but brought few tangible rewards for England.
The memory of the victory over the Armada was evoked during both the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War, when Britain again faced a concrete danger of invasion.
Knerr (1989) has reviewed the main trends in historiography over five centuries. For 150 years writers relied heavily on Petruccio Ubaldini's A Discourse Concernye the Spanish Fleete Invadinye Englande(1590), which argued that God decisively favoured the Protestant cause. William Camden(1551-1623) pointed in addition to elements of English nationalism and the private enterprise of the sea dogs. He also emphasized that the Duke of Medina Sidonia was an incompetent seaman. David Hume (1711–76) praised the leadership of Queen Elizabeth. However the Whig historians, led by James A. Froude (1818–94), rejected Hume's interpretation and argued that Elizabeth was vacillating and almost lost the conflict by her unwillingness to spend enough to maintain the fleet. Scientific modern historiography came of age with the publication of two volumes of primary documents by John K. Laughton in 1894. This enabled the leading naval scholar of the day Julian Corbett (1854-1922), to reject the Whig views and turn attention to the professionalization of the Royal Navy as a critical factor. Twentieth century historians have focused on technical issues, such as the relative power of English and Spanish guns and the degree of credit due Francis Drake and Charles Howard.
Elizabeth I and the Spanish Armada; the Apothecaries painting, sometimes attributed to Nicholas Hilliard. A stylised depiction of key elements of the Armada story: the alarm beacons, Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury, and the sea battle at Gravelines
New book reveals last words of doomed HMS Bounty's arrogant captain who'd sailed INTO the path of Hurricane Sandy
He was the captain who led his crew into eye of Superstorm Sandy, the biggest and most brutal hurricane in living memory.
But it was only just as the famed HMS Bounty was about to sink that Robin Walbridge finally admitted defeat, MailOnline can reveal.
In ‘The Gathering Wind’, a new book seen exclusively by MailOnline before its release next week, Walbridge called the crew of 15 below deck for one last speech in which he ordered them: 'Learn from this.'
In sharp contrast to his previous defiance, he shouted above the howling winds tearing the ship apart: ‘What went wrong? At what point did we lose control?’
Destruction: A new book has detailed the final moments of The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, which submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina
Walbridge’s last, ominous words to them all were: ‘Get some rest while you can. You’re going to need it’.
The 180ft tall HMS Bounty, which was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando classic Mutiny on the Bounty, sank off the coast of North Carolina near Cape Hatteras early in the morning of Monday October 29th last year in an area known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’.
Two of the crew on the ship died; Walbridge, 63, and deckhand Claudene Christian, 42, a former University of Southern California song girl. Fourteen others survived. Afterwards grave concerns were raised about the entire expedition, the Coast Guard began an official inquiry and Christian’s family filed a $90 million lawsuit over her death.
Walbridge has been painted as an arrogant man who rode his luck one too many times - with fatal consequences. Critics say he should never have even set sail at all.
Sandy, a ‘Frankenstorm’ made up of two storm systems, would go on to affect some 60 million Americans as it tore up the East coast and grow to 1,100 miles wide with winds up to 110mph.
The streets of Manhattan flooded and knocked out the power for half of the island, some $68 billion of damage was caused in the US and at least 286 people were killed.
Dramatic: An image taken inside the helicopter shows the moment crew members were saved from the ship
Walbridge was aware of the warnings about Sandy because he got them on the ship’s computer - but still decided to go directly into its path.
He left New London, Connecticut on Thursday October 25th bound for St Petersburg, Florida on board the ship that he had captained for 17 years and was the love of his life.
It was a replica of the 1784 Royal Navy vessel which has also appeared in a string of Hollywood blockbusters including two Pirates of the Caribbean films.
But it was also not licensed to take the public out to sea and Walbridge had a reputation for bending the rules to keep it afloat with not enough money for extensive repairs.
Walbridge was apparently convinced that the hundreds of experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were wrong and that the storm would not continue its path up the Eastern Coast of the US.
Instead he thought that it would come out into the Atlantic Ocean and he could creep round it to the West. He was wrong.
In one of her last communications before she died, Christian texted a friend in Florida: ‘Wow! Here we go... straight into Hurricane Sandy.’
Struggle: A footage still shows one of the crew of the Bounty being rescued from a life raft by the Coast Guard after the vessel sank after the captain went against forecasters' advice and sailed into the storm
The adventure of a lifetime for some of the crew who were young and loving the romance of sailing a tall ship was about to end.
Waves up to 30ft high - the size of two story houses - crashed over the vessel, sending deck hand Adam Prokosh, 27, flying between decks, dislocating his shoulder and breaking several ribs.
One wave propelled Walbridge into a table, leaving him badly hurt and lying on the floor in pain.
The wind ripped down several sails and at 6.30pm on Sunday October 28th the second generator failed meaning that they were unable to pump out the bilge water that swamped the lower decks in a matter of hours, meaning they were were adrift and taking on water in the middle of the storm.
The crew had already alerted the coast guard which sent a plane sent from North Carolina to track them down but the winds were so severe it would be sent up two hundred feet in a second, then go back down again a second later.
In 'The Gathering Wind' author Gregory A. Freeman writes that as it became apparent that the end was nigh, Walbridge called the crew to the navigation shack and ‘looked over them silently’.
Destroyed: An image taken in July 2010 shows the tall ship HMS Bounty sailing on Lake Erie off Cleveland
He told them: ‘Water bottles. Don’t forget to take your own water bottle with you….make sure there’s an EPIRB (emergency beacon) activated in each life raft….stay together’.
The book reads: ‘But then Walbridge got to what was really on his mind. He must have understood that his decision to set sail from New London was a mistake.
‘And Walbridge always taught his crew to learn from their mistakes. This was to be his last teachable moment for the crew of the Bounty.
‘He said: ‘I’d like everyone to brainstorm where we went wrong’. ‘How did we get here,’ Walbridge asked loudly, looking around the nav shack, still in command of his ship. ‘What went wrong? At what point did we lose control?’
‘There was only silence as Walbridge looked around the room. His crew watched him intently, but some had trouble meeting his gaze. They knew what Walbridge was saying to them.
'Learn from this,' Walbridge said more quietly.'
The book says that Walbridge looked weary in a way that they had never seen before. Walbridge then told them his final words as their captain: ‘Get some rest while you can. You’re going to need it in a couple of hours.’
'Arrogant': The late Captain Robin Walbridge, pictured working on the Bounty in 2011, 'recklessly ignored Sandy's size, scope and intensity', according to a lawsuit brought by the family of a victim.
Before the storm: Bosun Laura Groves and Chris Malloon work on the rigging in 2010 as the Bounty sailed between New Brunswick and Maine for a haul out. Two crew members died in the storm but 14 survived
The crew radioed the C-130 coast guard plane circling over head at 4.45am on Sunday October 25th to say the Bounty was capsizing.
Everyone got into a ‘Gumby’ suit, which is a large inflatable survival suit - then all hell broke loose when the Bounty suddenly turned on its side, sending everyone into the water.
New details: The final terrifying moments are detailed in the new book, out next week
The book recounts how the masts and rigging kept rising up in the water and crashing down on the sailors, hitting first mate John Svendsen and breaking his arm and cutting his face.
Every time the rest of the crew tried to swim away - which took a superhuman effort in their bulky Gumby suits - another rope would tangle onto them and try to suck them under.
Their suits were so heavy and their hands were so bulky inside them that it took 45 minutes to get the first person in the life raft by grabbing a rope to pull themselves up with their teeth.
Somehow 14 of the 16 on board made it to life rafts or clung on to wooden that was floating in the debris until the coastguard helicopter picked them all up.
Christian’s body was later found floating by another coastguard helicopter team.
Walbridge was never seen again, but soon after the recriminations began.
In February the Coast Guard held a week-long hearing in Portsmouth, Virginia into what happened. Its official report is due next year.
What came out left Christian’s family appalled.
Walbridge was apparently so keen to get to Florida on time because he had scheduled a meeting with a nonprofit organization dedicated to Down syndrome research, which might have helped bring in some money for the ship too.
The suggestion was that he and the ship’s owner, New York businessman Robert Hanse, were worried that if they missed the meeting the agreement would fall apart.
Team: Captain Walbridge (right) is pictured working with the other Bounty crew. Despite his apparently rash - and ultimately deadly - decisions, the crew has refused to say a bad word against the captain
During the hearing it also emerged that, whilst in dry dock before the trip, Walbridge refused to approve the removal of rotten wood on the boat because it would have cost a lot of money.
An unfortunate interview he gave emerged in which he bragged ‘we chase hurricanes’ and said that they gave the ship a ‘good ride’.
Walbridge also did not tell his crew the full extent of Sandy’s strength and when senior members raised concerns he told them not to worry.
No other tall ships were out of port during Sandy, and hardly any other vessels were even with more modern hulls made of steel.
Hanse refused to testify at the coast guard hearing and took the Fifth meaning nobody will ever know the full truth.
So Christian’s family’s lawsuit against him, Walbridge, the Bounty operating company and the crew alleging that the ship ended up in ‘the greatest mismatch between a vessel and a peril of the sea that would ever occur or could be imagined’.
The lawsuit states: ‘Captain Walbridge, who was focused on the rewards lying in St Petersburg, recklessly ignored Sandy's size, scope and intensity.
Crew: Chief mate John Svendsen at the helm of the Bounty in 2010. He was second in command on the Bounty and known for his calm authority
Working together: Third mate Dan Cleveland doing some maintenance on the rigging of the Bounty in 2011
‘He also grossly overestimated, to the point of recklessness, Bounty's seaworthiness and overestimated his professional seamanship and weather forecasting abilities to the point of arrogant hubris’.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that he put them in grave danger for no reason, Walbridge’s crew still somehow stood by him.
It is one of the most puzzling episodes of the whole tragedy, not least as they were being paid
Under questioning at the hearing Jess Hewitt, a 25-year-old qualified captain and crew member, refused to put the knife into Walbridge.
And when told by a lawyer for Christian’s family that nobody would say a bad word against him, her response was: ‘That’s awesome’.
Third mate Dan Cleveland, 25, was even more forthright in his defence of Walbridge.
‘The Gathering Wind’ reads: ‘If Walbridge were alive today and proposed sailing into another hurricane or storm, Cleveland would go with him because the outcome of the Bounty's last voyage was not inevitable.
Tragedy: As well as the captain, a woman died and other crew members suffered broken bones and injuries
‘The loss of the ship and two lives was the result of series of problems, he says, and that the sequence of events does not have to repeat itself. If just a few things had turned out differently, the Bounty would have made it through Hurricane Sandy, he insists.'
Speaking to MailOnline, Freeman said that in his assessment Walbridge did make a 'serious and tragic mistake'.
He thought that in time the crew will eventually 'come to the realization that Walbridge made tragic errors’, but that the camaraderie was so strong the couldn’t see it yet.
He said: 'It's hard to call for a mutiny because it's such a powerful word but in retrospect, I think the crew should have more forcefully told the captain that this was a bad idea, yes'.
Freeman, who has previously written a narrative non-fiction book about WWII soldiers, added that in those final moments Walbridge ‘realised that he had made this error’.
He said: 'I don't see him as the villain. Everyone agrees that he had an admirable career
This is Armada House on St Andrews Street in Norwich.
Garsett House dates back to 1589 and is also known as Armada House. This is founded upon a local tradition which says that timbers used in the construction of the building were salvaged from the ill-fated Spanish Armada off the Norfolk coast. On the south wall of the building is a plaster relief commemorating the event.
In "English Heritage: Norwich", author Brian Ayers tells us "16th century buildings were sometimes adorned with carved wooden brackets as with the . . . sixteenth century example still in place on Garsett House".
It is a Grade II listed building.
House, now office. 1589 on bracket. Timber frame, rendered. Hipped pantile
Plaster statue of the man himself: Sir Francis Drake (born somewhere around 1544, or maybe 1542 - nobody quite knows; died 1596), scourge of the Spanish Armada.
This was made by the sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm as a studio model, and was used to make the casting moulds for the bronzes on Plymouth Hoe and Tavistock in the early 1880s
Spanish Armada shawl
The Defeat of the Spanish Armada
The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, Garrett Mattingly, hardback cover, 1959. Spotted at Cawthorne Antiques & Collectors Centre.
Mouth of River Plym
Where you can see the boats is where Sir Francis Drake moored his whilst waiting for the Spanish Armada
The small harbour is where Sir Francis Chichester started and ended the first solo voyage around the world
Spanish Armada Memorial - 1
Spanish Armada 1588 - 1988
Anglo-Spanish_War (1585) , (1654)
The Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604) was an intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and began with England's military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands under the command of the Earl of Leicester in support of the resistance of the States General to Habsburg rule.
There was a stage that looked like a Spanish armada ship.
Spanish Armada Wreck, Streedagh, Co. Sligo
This is said to be one of the Spanish Armada wrecks on the Streedagh shore, only seen at very low tides. With the shifting of the sands from year to year some years it cant be seen at all.
Armada Memorial & Ferris Wheel, Plymouth Hoe
Their journeys would end in tragic circumstances, crushed up against the rocks with the precious cargo lost and some of the crew members dead.
But, no matter the treacherous conditions, every time a ship ran aground off the coast of Cornwall, members of the Gibson family would be there to take photos of the vessel's demise.
These ghostly images of shipwrecks were first taken 150 years ago when John Gibson bought his first camera and have now been put together in a collection which is expected to be sold for between £100,000 and £150,000 at an auction next month.
History: The Minnehaha was shipwrecked in 1874 as it travelled from Peru to Dublin, it was carrying guano to be used as fertiliser and struck Peninnis Head rocks when the captain lost his way. The ship sank so quickly that some men were drowned in their berths, ten died in total including the captain.
Taken by four generations of the family of photographers over a period of 130 years, the 1000 negatives record the wrecks of more than 200 ships and the fate of their passengers, crew and cargo as they travelled from across the world through the notoriously treacherous seas around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
At the very forefront of early photojournalism, John Gibson and his descendants were determined to be first on the scene when these shipwrecks struck. Each and every wreck had its own story to tell with unfolding drama, heroics, tragedies and triumphs to be photographed and recorded - the news of which the Gibsons would disseminate to the British mainland and beyond.
The original handwritten eye-witness accounts as recorded by Alexander and Herbert Gibson in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will be sold alongside the collection of images.
Dark: The Norwegian sailing ship the Hansy,was wrecked in November 1911 on the eastern side of the Lizard in Cornwall. Three men were rescued by lifeboat and all of the rest of the passengers managed to escape up onto the rocks.
Bad weather: The Bay of Panama was wrecked under Nare Head, near St Keverne, Cornwall during a huge blizzard in March 1898. At the time it was wrecked it was carrying a cargo of Jute, used to make hessian cloth, from Calcutta in India, 18 of those on board died but 19 were rescued.
Founder and apprentice: John Gibson (right) started the business after buying his first camera and took on his son Herbert (right) as an apprentice in 1865
The Gibson family passion for photography was passed down through an astonishing four generations from John Gibson, who purchased his first camera 150 years ago.
Born in 1827, and a seaman by trade, it is not known how or where John Gibson acquired his first camera at time when photography was typically reserved for the wealthiest in society.
However by 1860 he had established himself as a professional photographer in a studio in Penzance.
Returning to the Scillies in 1865, he employed his two sons Alexander and Herbert as apprentices in the business, forging a personal and professional unity which would be passed down through all the generations which followed.
Inseparable from his brother until the end, it is said that Alexander almost threw himself into Herbert’s grave at his funeral in 1937.
The family’s famous shipwreck photography began in 1869, on the historic occasion of the arrival of the first Telegraph on the Isles of Scilly.
At a time when it could take a week for word to reach the mainland from the islands, the Telegraph transformed the pace at which news could travel.
At the forefront of early photojournalism, John became the islands’ local news correspondent, and Alexander the telegraphist - and it is little surprise that the shipwrecks were often major news.
On the occasion of the wreck of the 3500-ton German steamer, Schiller in 1876 when over 300 people died, the two worked together for days - John preparing newspaper reports, and Alexander transmitting them across the world, until he collapsed with exhaustion.
Although they often worked in the harshest conditions, travelling with hand carts to reach the shipwrecks - scrambling over treacherous coastline with a portable dark room, carrying glass plates and heavy equipment - they produced some of the most arresting and emotive photographic works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Crash: The French ship, the Seine was on her way to Falmouth with a cargo of nitrate when she ran into a gale off Scilly on Decermber 28, 1900. She ran ashore in Perran Bay, Perranporth, Cornwall, but thankfully all crew members were rescued with Captain Guimper reported as the last man to leave the ship before she was broken up in the next flood tide.
Crash: The German owned 300ft merchant vessel the Cita, sunk after it pierced its hull and ran aground in gale-force winds en route from Southampton to Belfast in March 1997. The mainly Polish crew of the stricken vessel were rescued a few hours after the incident by the RNLI and the wreck remained on the rock ledge for several days before slipping off into deeper water.
Generations: When Herbert Gibson died, the business changed hands to his son James (left) who had assisted him for ten years. Frank (right) left the Isle of Scilly after a family argument and went to learn about new technology which helped advance the business when he returned in 1957
Storm: A French trawler called the Jeanne Gougy pictured being engulfed by waves at Land's End in 1962. It was on its way to fishing grounds on the southern Irish coast from Dieppe in France when it went aground on the north side of Lands End in the early hours of November 3rd. Twelve men including the skipper were lost, swept away by massive waved before they could be rescued.
Rex Cowan, a shipwreck hunter and author said: 'This is the greatest archive of the drama and mechanics of shipwreck we will ever see - a thousand images stretching over 130 years, of such power, insight and nostalgia that even the most passive observer cannot fail to feel the excitement or pathos of the events they depict.'
Spy author John Le Carre said of the collection: 'We are standing in an Aladdin’s cave where the Gibson treasure is stored, and Frank is its keeper.
'It is half shed, half amateur laboratory, a litter of cluttered shelves, ancient equipment, boxes, printer’s blocks and books.
Precious cargo: The Glenbervie, which was carrying a consignment of pianos and high quality spirits crashed into rocks Lowland Point near Coverack, Cornwall, in January 1902 after losing her way in bad weather. The British owned barque was laden with 600 barrels of whisky, 400 barrels of brandy and barrels of rum. All 16 crewmen were saved by lifeboat.
'Many hundreds of plates and thousands of photographs are still waiting an inventory. Most have never seen the light of day. Any agent, publisher or accountant would go into free fall at the very sight of them.'
And fellow author John Fowles said: 'Other men have taken fine shipwreck photographs, but nowhere else in the world can one family have produced such a consistently high and poetic standard of work.'
The archive will be sold as a single lot in Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History sale.
Lost: The Mildred was traveling from Newport to London when it got stuck in dense fog and hit rocks at Gurnards Head at midnight on the 6th April 1912. Captain Larcombe and his crew of two Irishmen, one Welshman and a Mexican rowed into St. Ives as their ship was destroyed by the waves.
Crowded: The Dutch cargo ship Voorspoed pictured surrounded by horses used to help take away the cargo after it was wrecked at Perran Bay, Cornwall in March 1901. All of those on board died in the incident as the ship travelled from to Newfoundland, Canada to Perranporth, Cornwall.
Saved: British ship, the City of Cardiff was en route from Le Havre, France, to Wales in 1912 when it was wrecked in Mill Bay near Land's End. All of the crew were rescued
Stuck: The steamer City of Cardiff pictured trapped on rocks with steam still coming out of the chimney, it was washed ashore by a strong gale in March 1912 at Nanjizel. The Captain, his wife and son, and the crew were all rescued but the vessel was left a total wreck.
Sinking: A British built iron sailing barque, The Cromdale, ran into Lizard Point, the most southerly point of British mainland, in thick fog. The three-masted ship was on a voyage from Taltal, Chile to Fowey, Cornwall with a cargo of nitrates. There were no casualties but within a week the ship had been broken up completely by the sea.
THE FAMILY OF EXPERIENCED PHOTOGRAPHERS
Apprentice: Alexander Gibson was invited by his father John into the business in 1865
The Gibson family originated from the Isleof Scilly and have 300 years of family history.
John Gibson acquired his first camera whilst abroad around 150 years ago when photography was still mainly reserved for the wealthiest members of society.
He had to go to sea from a young age to supplement the income from a small shop on St Mary’s run by his widowed mother.
Making ends meet on St Mary’s was a constant struggle and he learned to use the camera and set up a photography studio in Penzance.
Both Herbert and Alexander learned the art of photography at their father’s knee and Alexander was to become one of the most remarkable characters in Scilly.
He had a passion for archaeology, architecture and folk history. He took endless pictures of ruins, prehistoric remains, and artifacts not just in Scilly but all over Cornwall.
Herbert by contrast was a quiet man, a competent photographer and a sound businessman. There can be no doubt that without his steadying influence, the business aspect of their photography might not have survived Alexander’s more flamboyant approach.
Frank spent some time working for photographers in Cornwall learning about new technology.
But Frank returned to Scilly in 1957 and worked in partnership with his father for two years.
After this time it was apparent that they could not work together and James retired to Cornwall and sold the business to Frank. Under Frank’s stewardship the business expanded. He produced postcards and sold souvenirs to supplement the photography, and opened another shop. Scilly is always in the news and there is always demand for pictures by the press.
James Gibson was, in fact, the most qualified of all the photographers. He was an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and won various medals and awards through his lifetime. He was an adventurous photojournalist as well as a jobbing photographer.
Today, the family runs a souvenir shop which sells books and postcards and they are currently digitising 150 years of photographs.