In 1989, local adventurer and explorer Jack S. Grove accidentally discovered the shipwreck of the vessel Acadia at Ducie Atoll, an uninhabited islet in the Pitcairn Island group.

The Acadia and the Pitcairn Islands are involved in the history of the infamous H.M.A.S. (Her Majesty’s Admiralty Ship) Bounty, of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame. On April 28, 1789, mutineers seized control of the Bounty and set it ablaze to sink in Bounty Bay in the Pitcairn Islands. On the shores of those remote islands, the mutineers and the Tahitian women they took with them founded Pitcairn. Some descendants still live on the islands to this day.

Jack Grove poses with Andy Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian (the original leader of the HMS Bounty mutiny) at the boathouse on Pitcairn Island. For a long time, the two longboats in the boathouse were the lifeline for Pitcairn residents to get provisions ashore. CONTRIBUTED
Andy Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian (the original leader of the HMS Bounty mutiny), and Jack Grove pose with one of the Acadia’s recovered anchors. CONTRIBUTED

In 1881, another ship, the Acadia, sank after going aground at Ducie Atoll in the Pitcairn Island group. The 11 survivors escaped to Pitcairn, where some remained and married the descendants of the Bounty mutineers.

A young Jack Grove, snorkeling on a reef near Ducie Atoll while working as a divemaster and naturalist on a nearby ship, discovered the anchor of the Acadia and became immersed in the history of the island group and its inhabitants.

Photo from the recovery of the anchor of the Acadia. Jack Grove coordinated efforts below the surface to retrieve the over 2-ton anchor and bring it back to the World Discoverer, the ship upon which Grove was a divemaster and naturalist. CONTRIBUTED
The windless of the Acadia, photographed in 1990 underwater, helped Grove realize he’d found a shipwreck at Ducie Atoll. CONTRIBUTED

In April 1989, Grove salvaged the anchor of the Acadia to celebrate the bicentennial of the mutiny on the Bounty and the founding of Pitcairn. The Tavernier resident has gone back to the island group 14 times.

On the last such journey, his team found the mast of the Acadia inside the lagoon at Ducie Atoll, high above the watermark.

“This means the Acadia sank right in front of the monument we erected,” said the excited explorer. Grove talks through the fascinating ways the mast could have ended up inside the almost-landlocked lagoon, still wondering.

“Birders found it several years ago on a trip I was on. They told me about it, but had no pictures of it because there were no birds on it,” laughs Grove.

During Grove’s last visit to Ducie Atoll, the team discovered the mast of the Acadia. Notice the iron hoop in Grove’s hand that indicates the original girth of the mast when the ship sank in 1881. CONTRIBUTED

On a future mission, Grove hopes to retrieve the mast from Ducie Atoll. He’s already received permission from the Pitcairn government to do so.

“I’d love to see the mast in the new museum on Pitcairn,” says Grove. “The (Acadia’s) anchor is on top of the hill at Bounty Bay, overlooking where the original settlers came ashore off the H.M.S. Bounty.”

Grove is thankful for his many exploits on the islands and looks forward to returning soon to help piece together more of its storied history.

Jack Grove and his business partner and co-founder of Zegrahm Expeditions, Mike Messick, pose with the monument erected at Ducie Atoll commemorating the recovery of the Acadia’s anchor in 1990. All building materials had to be transported over the reef and surf in the background. CONTRIBUTED
Jack Stein Grove poses with the recovered cannon from the HMAS Bounty, which now sits in Adamstown on Pitcairn Island. CONTRIBUTED
Jack Grove and his business partner Mike Messick co-founded Zegrahm Expeditions to bring travelers and adventurers to remote places like the Pitcairn Islands. Grove’s first-hand accounts and personal adventures over 15 visits to the islands provide guests with plenty to take in. CONTRIBUTED
Tiff Duong is a self-made mermaid who loves all things cheesy (romantic and dairy) and thrives in the 3 am hour. She believes in leaving it all on the field and has never met a (mis)adventure she didn't love.