New England author Michael Tougias is drawn to a good sea story with the kind of suspense that has you on the edge of your seat. And that’s a lucky thing for boating enthusiasts who are coming to the Providence Boat Show. At last year’s show Tougias recounted the tale in his book The Finest Hours, which was made into a Disney film. This year, Tougias is coming to the Providence show to tell a different tale—and it’s one that may just become his next blockbuster.
Ten Hours Until Dawn has been touted by book reviewers at the best story of peril at sea since Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. In his book, Tougias recounts the true story of an attempted rescue at sea that happened during the blizzard of 1978, when the Massachusetts coast was lashed with blinding snow, 100-mph winds, and 40-foot waves.
In the midst of the blizzard, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Captain Frank Quirk was monitoring the Coast Guard’s efforts by radio, and when he heard that the patrol boat was in jeopardy, he decided to act. Gathering his crew of four, he readied his 49-foot steel boat, the Can Do, and entered the maelstrom of the blizzard.
“This is one of the few ocean tragedies where we know exactly what happened due to the existence of audio recordings, which were taped the night of the storm and feature both the voices of men of the Coast Guard and the Can Do,” says Tougias. These tapes span a 10-hour period during the men’s fight for survival, and they enabled Tougias to write a devastating account of bravery and death at sea.
This not-to-be-missed presentation takes place on Sunday, February 5, starting at 12 noon. Tougias will include slides and some of the audiotapes in his presentation, and a book signing will follow.