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When first cast adrift, Bligh and his companions had with them 150lbs of bread, 16 pieces of pork, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water, though some of this was lost when they put ashore at the island of Tofoa in search of additional stores and were attacked by natives. One man was stoned to death, but they had managed to gather a small stock of coconuts on which they dined on the second night of their journey.

At first Bligh doled out rations by guesswork, but on the 11th day he made a pair of scales with two coconut shells and, “having accidentally some pistol-balls in the boat, 25 of which weighed one pound, or 16 ounces, ... adopted one as the proportion of the weight that each person should receive of bread, and a quarter pint of water, at eight in the morning, at noon and at Sunset”.

Bligh’s coconut bowl was sold for £60,000 to the National Maritime Museum, and that ration-measuring bullet, which he later had mounted on an engraved metal plate and wore
suspended by a ribbon around his neck, was also secured by them at £32,000.

A 2in (5cm) high horn cup used by Bligh to dole out the water, and which according to old reports once bore the ink legend “Allowance of water 3 times a day” (now presumably faded away) saw the Greenwich museum digging even deeper into its funds and handing over a further £15,000.

Bligh did not have a chart or a chronometer in the boat, but he did have a sextant, quadrant and compass, and quite probably a navigation manual, that enabled him to steer the 23ft (7m) long open boat a distance of 3618 nautical miles from the Friendly Isles to Timor in the Dutch East Indies. This family property also included an 18th century steel magnetic compass needle in a fitted wooden box. It cannot be said with absolute certainty that this was the very needle from the compass that Bligh used – an Adams compass removed from the Bounty’s binnacle – but the family provenence makes it very likely and it sold at £14,000, albeit this time without the involvement of the National Maritime Museum.