Prolific author and lecturer Tougias (Ten Hours Until Dawn, 2005, etc.) sets sail for another passionately recounted peril-at-sea adventure, this time adrift on the unpredictable waters of the Atlantic in 1980.
Located 100 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Georges Bank offers rich grounds for fishermen, but its deadly waves and currents keep many away. Brawny, seasoned Ernie Hazard, 33, knew these dangers well and frequently navigated the 50-foot steel lobster boat Fair Wind to that treacherous oval-shaped plateau. He’d prepped well for a season-ending trip in November 1980, setting out from Cape Cod amidst a promising forecast. Key reports from both Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine, however, were not available, due to malfunctioning buoys. Eighteen hours into the journey, stormy seas assailed the Fair Wind and the Sea Fever, another lobster boat sloshing along ten miles to the north. Both crafts were taken by surprise, and while their increasingly terrified crews engaged contingency plans, a slew of mayday signals from other boats closer to shore threw the Coast Guard into a frenzy. Faced with “a wall of water close to one hundred feet tall,” the Fair Wind capsized, pitching Hazard into 55-degree water. He managed to climb into the ship’s rubber life raft, where he began a three-day struggle for survival described here with excruciating intensity. Tougias also chronicles the equally desperate plight of the Sea Fever crew, as well as the two separate rescues. Additional information on weather patterns, area maps, the lobster industry, shark behavior, personal crewmember history, etc. is interesting enough, but it often feels like filler. Still, the padding only slightly detracts from the author’s enthusiastic delivery.
A blustery seafarer’s delight, rendered with gusto.