Without a doubt, the captain's harshest critic at the hearing was Jan Miles, one of the world's most respected tall-ship pilots and a self-described friend of Walbridge.
Captain of the Pride of Baltimore II, Miles summed up Walbridge's actions in four words: "reckless in the extreme."
He questioned why Walbridge was in such a hurry to get to St. Petersburg that he would sail into one of the worst hurricanes in memory.
For centuries, sailors have told tales about adventure on the high seas. The stories often celebrate a long-missing voyager's return.
This sad seafaring story concludes with the loss of two lives and perhaps the most frustrating of endings: with, as Miles said, "questions that have no answers."
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."