In April 1789, the crew of the H.M. transport Bounty mutinied off Tofua in the Tongan Islands. Lieutenant Bligh and eighteen loyal men were cast adrift in the Bounty's launch, an open boat only 7 metres long. Unable to sail to Tahiti against the trade winds, Bligh decided to head for Timor in the Dutch East Indes (Indonesia), 5800 kilometres away. This decision had a profound impact on Fiji's history, the islands lying unavoidable across Bligh's path.
Bligh was the first European to appreciate the extent and complexity of the Fiji Islands, sailing through the heart of the group from south-east to north-west and charting the positions of the islands with remarkable accuracy.