PACIFIC ORDEAL by Capt. Kenneth Ainslie
Kirkus Star


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A Panama-Manila voyage that was offered to Captain Ainslie as holiday prospect and turned to grim and grievous labor in reality in accounted for here by the man in command. Captain Ainslie tells the story of trial by water journey in a way that brings close the danger, the fierceness, the long agony of a star crossed voyage across the Pacific. Expecting case, he came to take over his 900 ton tug the Wallace R. Gray -- and found her laden by four mine sweepers which she was to tow, and manned by a raw, unhomogeneous crew. The hurdles on the voyage were many, each harder. There were the crew-gatherings in seaports, the grim business of catching the minesweepers which broke away, the amateur amputation required to save a life, the engine difficulties, the oil shortage which frightened the crew to plan armed mutiny, the decision to drop the minesweepers in an attempt to make land at all while oil lasted, the fatal phosphorescence poisoning from a red schnapper dinner which killed some men and incapacitated all for a time, the Navy air search for the minesweepers -- with three men aboard- when they could not be found upon return to pick them up (the estimate of drift time was correct but direction was not)...The terrible voyage ended, two mine sweepers and the man salvaged, the was overhauled and renamed. Despite all, the captain had a fondness for her and for the men with whom he had wrestled on the dark journey. The solitary anguish of the man in charge in cruel circumstances reaches the reader through these hard-fact pages. An agonizing epic.

Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 1956
Publisher: Norton