Published: Oct 29, 2012 10:55 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The sinking of the HMS Bounty Monday in the rough seas of Hurricane Sandy was an all-too-real drama for one of Hollywood's most famous replica tall ships.

Southwest Florida filmmaker John Biffar once set sail on the Bounty for a 1980's documentary.

"I have a deep affinity for that vessel because it was one of the great adventures of my life," Biffar said.

Biffar spent several days on board the Bounty in the early 1980's, teaming up with veteran Tampa TV anchor Bob Hite to follow the ship on a journey to Panama, on its way to be used in the film "Yellowbeard."

"This boat was an international symbol. It wasn't just any ship, it wasn't just any tall ship. It was the Bounty," he said.

The replica was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando film "Mutiny on the Bounty," and has been seen in numerous films since.

Last week, the Bounty left Connecticut for its home port in St. Petersburg; but early Monday, it encountered the rough seas of Hurricane Sandy and sank. Coast Guard teams quickly rescued 14 people from the water off North Carolina; another missing crew member was found late Monday, though the ship's captain remained missing as of Monday night.

"It's just hard to believe a boat I was on, that you have such a great time of your life on, is no longer here and the people on it, missing and God knows what," Biffar said.

When Biffar sailed the replica Bounty, it hadn't been on the sea in 18 years; it took on water and at one point, caught fire, echoing the fate of the original Bounty, which was burned in a revolt in the 1700's.

"There were people who seriously felt this boat was cursed because of the original Bounty, the folklore behind it," he said.

But this time, it was a far more devastating and very real drama on board the famous ship.

"It's just a great tragedy and a sadness," Biffar said.