It's the last days of October 1991. Most of the Gloucester swordfishing fleet is on the fishing grounds and will be there for another week or so. The Andrea Gail
, however is headed home. She's off her usual cycle and with a broken ice-machine and a hold full of fish, her men are ready to go home. With the rest of the fleet out, their boat and their fish will be alone in the harbor, promising a good payday for the 6 men aboard. At 6:00 PM on October 28th, she is hailed by the Mary T, to the southeast. This is the last anyone will hear from the six mean aboard; Captain Billy Tyne, David "Sully" Sullivan, Bobby Shatford, Michael "Bugsy" Moran, Dale "Murph" Murphy, and Alfred Pierre.
If you think you know what this book is about, you're probably wrong. Junger of course reconstructs to the best of his, or anyone else's ability, what happened to the Andrea Gail
as she tried to ride out the "Storm of the Century," which at one point was so large it's eye stretched from Newfoundland in the north to Jamaica in the south. What I learned about history, meteorology, and the fishing industry, amongst more, could have filled more than this one slim volume. That Junger does all of this in such an accessible way is a testament to his skill with the written word. In addition to the disappearance of the Andrea Gail
, he also includes the stories of several other daring rescues, sometimes of the rescuers themselves, that became necessary as this storm terrorized the seaboard and oceans off the northeast coast of North America. Not only did he provide a surprising amount of information in this 236 page book, but he did it in such an accessible manner that I didn't want to put the book down. I needed to know what happened to the Andrea Gail
, the Japanese Eishin Maru #78
, the Satori
, and the Air National Guard para-rescue jumpers who had to ditch their plane when the were unable to refuel mid-air. Junger kept me hooked to the very last page in a way that even a great thriller usually fails to do.
I picked this book up when my curiosity was piqued by the 2000 film of the same name. I was told not to expect the book to be anything like the movie, and it wasn't. It couldn't be though. The novel must stick the facts while the movie had more license to create a fictional account of what happened on board the vessel before it vanished. Both the truth and the fiction, however, have their place and I highly recommend reading and watching them together.