Chapter 9: Still, the sea beckons
The word rolls off Josh Scornavacchi's tongue with a smile -- sounding like the world's greatest healing spa.
A stunningly beautiful mountain peak near the Appalachian Trail in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle was among the first places the 25-year-old deckhand wanted to go after the shipwreck.
Bounty's young man with the old soul needed to put 8 miles of spectacular trail under his feet.
The night the Bounty went down transformed Scornavacchi, already a spiritual Christian, into a man even more deeply connected to his faith. That day he was certain he would die. And now he can't always understand how he made it back alive.
For Scornavacchi, answers to the big questions are hiding in the great outdoors.
The breathtaking vistas during his trek to Pinnacle moved him forward physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Mostly, the hike reconfirmed his need to explore.
Around his neck, Scornavacchi wears a symbol of his survival -- a replica piece of ship's rigging -- a small, wooden pulley block.
It reminds him of the Bounty's deadly rigging that he had to overcome that night. It stands for his continued passion for sailing ships and the sea. He also carries with him a 6-inch metal cross that he hopes to send to the parents of his lost shipmate, Claudene Christian.
Although Christian's tall-ship life was among several career reboots, it seemed somehow appropriate that the final phase of her free-spirited life would take place on the ocean, where destinations feel limitless and horizons infinite.
Dina and Rex Christian made sure their daughter's presence loomed large during the Coast Guard hearing. Whatever legacy the Bounty leaves for the future of the tall ship community, the Christians likely will be a part of it. In the coming weeks, their attorneys plan to file a lawsuit over their daughter's death, probably in a New York City federal court. Her parents chose to follow their attorney's advice, declining requests for interviews.
When Walbridge's widow, Claudia McCann, thinks about the Bounty's memorial service last December in Fall River, Massachusetts, she remembers the faces of supporters who surrounded her with love. Some were Bounty survivors -- the same faces Walbridge scanned that day in New London when the captain made his decision to sail.
The service, held aboard a retired Navy battleship, drew hundreds of mourners whose lives had been touched by Walbridge. McCann could feel their positive energy. And it helped her begin to heal, just five weeks after she'd lost her husband.
The eulogist praised Walbridge as a "fine, solid mariner ... who was loyal to his ship and loved her till the end."
Tears flowed. A ship's bell rang. A wreath was tossed into Mount Hope Bay.
Four months later, the pain of her loss has eased. But McCann knows she still has a ways to go. And she realizes troubled waters lie ahead.
Eventually, McCann will have to face the conclusions of the Bounty investigation. Whatever judgment the Coast Guard renders, McCann said it's going to be a very trying time.
In the tall ship community, dinner conversations surrounding the Bounty have become so volatile, the subject has been unofficially banned aboard some vessels.
Some say the captain's decision to leave Connecticut put the crew's lives in danger. But the Bounty's shipmates came together to save themselves. And they continue to look after each other.
"They're my family," said the Bounty electrician, Doug Faunt. "Closer than my family."
Earlier this month, Faunt and five of his shipmates reunited to sail once again.
This time, a 14-foot Sunfish had to do.
The reunion was hosted by deckhand Anna Sprague in the quaint Georgia beach town of Tybee Island, just outside Savannah, where Sprague first fell in love with the Bounty.
Scornavacchi was there, as were ship's cook Jessica Black and deckhands Mark Warner and Jessica Hewitt. They took turns in the tiny boat, enjoying nice sailing weather: temperatures in the 70s, mostly sunny, winds around 10 mph. It was a great chance to catch up, hang out and let off steam after the stressful hearings.