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Mutiny-inspired sailor ready for a 'raw' adventure

By Dean Irvine, CNN
  • Sailor Don McIntyre is recreating Captain Bligh's 4,000-mile journey stretching from Tonga to Timor
  • Four-man crew must survive on 25 days' rations, rainwater and rum
  • Crew will use sextants and octacts -- no charts -- to navigate
  • Captain expects to lose 16 kilograms during the 48-day voyage

(CNN) -- Does a 48-day voyage in an open boat with only 25 days' worth of rations sound like your idea of an adventure?

It does for sailor Don McIntyre and three other adventurous souls, who will be pitting themselves against the Pacific Ocean with only basic provisions,18th-century navigation equipment and their own company to keep them going.

McIntyre and his shipmates will be recreating the journey Captain Bligh took when he was cast adrift after the famous mutiny on HMS Bounty in 1789.

"It is a challenge that is incredibly raw, honest and open; it's just a few blokes in a boat with a bit of food and water," McIntyre told CNN from his home in Hobart, Australia. The crew will be sailing in a 25-foot open whale hunting boat named the Talisker Bounty Boat, built especially for the voyage and based on the one that Bligh used.

With no cabin, home comforts or even 20th century, let alone 21st century sailing equipment, the crew's experience will be as faithful as possible to the conditions and situation that Bligh and his men were in.

"There's no real training we can do to get through it, it's really a classic adventure that has a real unknown outcome and that's the real attraction," said McIntyre.

"There are also all these side stories: getting close to Bligh, working out why he did things the way he did and then trying to achieve something that is considered one of the greatest feats of seamanship."

While planning for the voyage started four years ago, McIntyre suffered crew troubles of his own recently. With just six weeks before the voyage was due to start, two crew members were forced to withdraw.

It is a challenge that is incredibly raw, honest and open; it's just a few blokes in a boat with a bit of food and water
--Don McIntyre

Teenage solo circumnavigator Mike Perham was forced to pull out after an appendix operation and American Peter Stier suffered so much during the sleep- and food-deprived training in February that he did not feel he could take on the full voyage.

Two new crew members were quickly found, with McIntyre considering applications from anyone with an interest in adventure. Using his own nose for a kindred spirit as a guide, McIntyre recruited Chris Wilde, an 18-year-old student who has no sailing experience at all. McIntyre recognized Wilde's enthusiasm and passion and deemed him ready to make the voyage along with two more experienced sailors.

"The story is really going to be on the boat, what happens with us four ... I have no idea what's going to happen and there's no way to train for it," said McIntyre.

Yet he's resolutely positive about the journey that will begin at the same spot in the western Pacific Ocean on April 28th, exactly 221 years after Bligh was cast adrift.

Rations of ships biscuits, nuts, beans, some beef and 28 gallons of water (and 6 bottles of rum) will be almost exactly the same as Bligh's men had to share. The crew will have to cope on only 400 grams of food a day and a reliance of rain to provide drinking water; McIntyre expects to personally lose around 16 kilograms of weight during the adventure.

Using only sextants and octants to navigate, McIntyre plans to stop at the same islands that Bligh did during the 4,000-mile voyage from Tonga to Timor. While there, the crew will collect supplies similar to those picked up by Bligh and his men. One stretch of the voyage will see the crew at sea for 26 days in a row.

McIntyre believes the biggest physical challenge is keeping the boat upright with late season cyclones the main concern. However emergency satellite phones are onboard so the crew can be contacted if there is any dangerous weather.

"We have no charts so we have serious challenges to get through the Fiji group of islands," he said. "And all the simple things like no toilet paper, no torches are going to add pressure and make things really difficult," he added.

"But I'm more excited about this adventure than any other because I'm at one with the sea, it's raw and honest, there's no technology giving us any assistance, it's a great historic parallel and basically it's just a lot of fun."