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.
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.
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.
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.