Coast Guard video of the rescue showed crew members being loaded one by one into a basket before the basket was hoisted into the helicopter.
When they returned to the mainland, some were wrapped in blankets, still wearing the blazing red survival suits they put on to stay warm in the chilly waters.
"It's one of the biggest seas I've ever been in. It was huge out there," said Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba, who helped pluck four crew members off one of the canopied life rafts and a fifth who was bobbing alone in the waves.
A helicopter pilot said the waves appeared to be 30 feet high during the rescue. The Coast Guard said in a news release that waves in many places topped out around 18 feet.
The survivors received medical attention and were to be interviewed for a Coast Guard investigation. The Coast Guard did not make them available to reporters.
Gary Farber was watching crewman Doug Faunt's house while his friend sailed. He hasn't heard from Faunt directly, but made sure he relayed Faunt's Facebook postings he made as the ship went down, including "The ship sank beneath us, but we swam free and mostly got into two rafts."
"Doug is a jack-of-all-trades, but I am surprised he was able to get his cellphone and send messages as the ship went down," Farber said by telephone of his friend.
The mother of another crew member, 20-year-old Anna Sprague, said her daughter had been aboard the Bounty since May.
Mary Ellen Sprague, of Savannah, Ga., said she had spoken with her daughter twice but didn't know many details because her daughter, normally talkative and outgoing, was being uncharacteristically quiet.
"She's very upset," Sprague said by telephone.
The crew was eager to return to St. Petersburg - and to calmer waters.
"I know they were very much looking forward to being here," said Carol Everson, general manager of the pier where the vessel docks. "They were very excited about coming down."
The Bounty's captain was from St. Petersburg, she said.
Wallbridge learned to sail at age 10, according to his biography on the Bounty's website. Prior to the Bounty, he served as first mate on the H.M.S. Rose - the Bounty's sister ship.
"The ship was almost like his home," said Smith, who met Walbridge in 2010 when she sailed the Bounty. "That's where he spent most of his time was aboard the ship. He was so full of history and so interesting to talk to. And he knew his sailing stuff."
A man who answered the door at a home listed as being owned by the captain and his wife said: "Not a good time," and closed the door.