Bounty crewmember: ‘I promised my mom and my little brother I wasn’t going to die’

Posted at 7:46 PM, Feb 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 00:14:01-05

Joshua Scoravacchi's mother was worried.

She'd heard about Hurricane Sandy and how meteorologists dubbed it "Frankenstorm," and she figured it was no place for a wooden-hulled tall ship like the Bounty.

But Joshua Scoravacchi wasn't as worried. He said the ship's captain impressed him with his knowledge and skill. He promised his mother he wouldn't die. And to hedge his bets, he asked a few friends to pray for him.

That's why, four days later as the rigging of the foundering ship ensnared him and held him underwater, this is the thought that crossed his mind:

"I got really upset," he told a Coast Guard panel in Portsmouth, "because I promised my mom and my little brother I wasn't going to die."

His testimony, at times playful and other times gripping, revealed another crew perspective on the disaster at sea last October that claimed the Bounty, her captain Robin Walbridge, and crew member Claudene Christian.

Scoravacchi said when it was clear the ship would be lost to the storm, he gathered emergency supplies. But then he started giving them away.

He was fitted earlier for a size-small immersion suit. In the chaos of the storm, he noticed one of the female crew members had grabbed a medium, too big for her. He traded. He also gave away his head lamp to another crew member who he thought needed it more.

He asked his friend and crew mate Claudene Christian to play him one last song on a guitar. There wasn't time.

"I looked up at the sky, closed my eyes, and the ship started to go over."

To the Coast Guard investigators, he motioned with an outstretched right hand.

"Most of the people who were over there weren't there any more," he said. "There were people hanging on a rail. And some people just slid into the water."

Scoravacchi stood on a rail as the ship bobbed on its side. He jumped into the sea.

"Everything that was in the water was getting sucked under the ship," he said.

Before jumping, he'd tethered a pack of supplies around his waist. Now in the water, the ship's rigging grabbed the tether and pulled him under.

That's when he thought he'd broken the promise to his mother. But just as he thought he would surely drown, the line snapped and he bobbed to the surface.

He saw the ship's masts and tangle of lines flailing in the hurricane.

"It looked really chaotic," he said. "You don't know where anybody is. Immediately when I got up, I didn't know if anybody was alive."

Eventually, Scoravacchi floated into other crew members, and together they found an empty life raft.

At the end of his testimony, he hugged the Bounty's chief mate. He left the hearing room and agreed to tell more of his story to reporters gathered around him in the hall. A Bounty crew member grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him away.


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