One crew member watched helplessly as a rigging spar swung down toward John Svendsen, the first mate. He reached up to block it, but was only partly successful. The rigging dealt his face a glancing blow.
Jessica Hewitt's climbing harness -- tethered to Drew Salapatek -- snagged on debris, dragging her underwater. Salapatek, realizing he was being pulled under too, wriggled out of his harness. Somehow, Hewitt freed herself and returned to the surface.
Not far away, Scornavacchi fought for his life. An emergency kit tied to his survival suit had caught on a piece of rigging. Before he could take a breath, he was pulled underwater.
Thrashing against the tangled debris, Scornavacchi's body ached for air. He was losing muscle control. This is it, he thought. He recalled his promise to his mother and little brother: Don't worry, he'd told them, I won't die on this trip.
Then it happened: The tether connecting the emergency kit to his suit broke loose.
He was free.
Elsewhere, Svendsen floated alone.
He'd become separated from the crew as the hurricane's winds and waves pushed him farther and farther from the shipwreck. Protected from hypothermia by his Gumby suit, Svendsen carried a beacon that signaled his location.
Several survivors clung to floating debris or linked arms and legs to form human chains. Panic gave way to relative calm as they searched for each other in the darkness.
Eventually a group of seven crew members and another group of six were each able to locate a life raft.
Inflating and climbing inside the rafts was difficult. The Gumby suits were heavy with water, making movement troublesome. The seriously injured Prokosh needed help. An hour passed before all 13 were safely aboard.
For Sprague, it was her first time ever inside a life raft. Deployment and inflating, the crew would later say, wasn't part of their training.
Like Svendsen, Laura Groves carried a locator beacon that could help searchers find her raft. Matt Sanders, on the other raft, also had one.
Deckhand Mark Warner peered out into the darkness. He spied a light atop the other raft -- but he couldn't make out anyone inside. Scanning the water, he saw no one.
Overhead, the sound of a circling search plane boosted their confidence: Soon, they would be saved.
Chapter 8: Investigation and blame
Fourteen people survived the sinking of the Bounty. Robin Walbridge and Claudene Christian were not among them.
Christian's body was pulled from the sea shortly after her shipmates were rescued. The search for the captain lasted four days. He was never found.
Four months later, Walbridge's and Christian's presence was palpable at Coast Guard hearings in Portsmouth, Virginia. More than once, raw emotions surrounding their deaths raised tensions in the room.
The lead investigator shot an angry look at a lawyer representing Christian's family. As the attorney's questions grew more and more aggressive, Cmdr. Kevin Carroll shouted, "Dial it down!"
Still mourning their daughter's death, Dina and Rex Christian watched the outburst intently from a few feet away. News reporters, nautical bloggers and the maritime authors in the audience shared their surprised reactions by way of silent glances.
The tension followed days of grueling testimony that offered all the power of a TV episode of "JAG," complete with a phalanx of uniformed Coast Guard officers firing questions at witnesses who seemed to choose their words carefully.
The stakes were high. The Bounty's Hollywood pedigree and recognizable name make it arguably the most famous tall ship in the world. Those watching knew the investigation could have huge ramifications on the way attraction vessels like the Bounty are inspected for safety.
Bounty's owner chose to license the ship as an uninspected passenger vessel, a classification described by experts at the hearing as a regulatory no man's land.