Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare: From The Bounty to Safety – 4,162 miles across the Pacific in a rowing boat

By John Toohey

Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare is the account of an extraordinary journey, a great achievement in the history of European seafaring and a personal triumph for a man that has been misjudged by history – Captain William Bligh, the supposedly cruel and foul-mouthed commander of The Bounty.

John Toohey’s account of Bligh’s life will re-evaluate the Captain’s role as an English hero.

At dawn on 28 April 1789, Captain William Bligh and eighteen men from the Bounty were herded onto a 23 foot boat and abandoned in the middle of the Pacific. Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare is the extraordinary story of the 6,705 kilometre journey that the boat made to Java. It was an amazing feat of navigation and discipline that involved attacks by islanders, continuous storms, crippling illness and near starvation.

Through the narration of the journey John Toohey skilfully interweaves the story of Bligh’s life and re-evaluates his reputation in history. Like Simon Schama’s Dead Certainties, Toohey speculates on the unwritten truths of Bligh’s life – his guilt over Captain Cook’s death in Kealakekua Bay, the myths surrounding the Bounty expedition, the trials and retributions that followed his return to England, fighting next to Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen.

John Toohey reveals Bligh as a man of his times, misunderstood by later generations. Combining extensive research with story-telling this is an extraordinary tale, an intriguing biography and a wonderful piece of history.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 01 Jul 1999
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1-84115-077-2
John Toohey is a photographer, historian, documentary maker and journalist. He is 36 and lives in Perth.