Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Fatal Forecast" presentation on Saturday, December 8th

On Saturday, December 8th at 3PM in the Lane Room, author Michael Tougias will give a slide presentation on his new book Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea. Using slides from the actual storm and rescue, Tougias will explain one of the most remarkable survival stories ever recorded.

During the program, Tougias will chronicle how in November of 1980, two fishing vessels, the Fair Wind and the Sea Fever, set out from Cape Cod to catch offshore lobsters at Georges Bank. The National Weather Service had forecast typical fall weather in the area for the next three days—even though the organization knew that its only weather buoy at Georges Bank was malfunctioning.

Soon after the boats reached the fishing ground, they were hit with hurricane force winds and massive, sixty-foot waves that battered the boats for hours. The captains and crews struggled heroically to keep their vessels afloat in the unrelenting storm. One monstrous wave of 90 to 100-feet soon capsized the Fair Wind, trapping the crew inside. Meanwhile, on the Sea Fever, Captain Peter Brown (whose father owned the Andrea Gail of Perfect Storm fame) did his best to ride out the storm, but a giant wave blew out one side of the pilothouse, sending a crewmember into the churning ocean.

Most amazing is the story of Ernie Hazard, who managed to crawl inside a tiny inflatable life raft--only to be repeatedly thrown into the ocean--as he fought to endure over fifty hours adrift in the storm tossed seas. The book also explores the resulting court case against the National Weather Service that made the front page of newspapers across the country.

Tougias says he was drawn to the story while researching his previous nautical thriller, Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do During the Blizzard of 78. “I was reviewing a Coast Guard Marine Casualty Report about this freak storm at Georges Bank,” says Tougias, “and I couldn’t believe that someone could survive 90 to 100 foot seas in the North Atlantic during November. Then when I learned how one of the boats trapped by the storm was operated by the son of the owner of the Andrea Gail in the Perfect Storm, I knew this was a story worth looking into.”

The author says the first thing he did was track down the survivors and spend considerable time carefully interviewing them. “Most of the fishermen,” says Tougias, “still live in New England, and they still go out to Georges Bank to fish. Unlike the perception of fishermen detailed in the Perfect Storm, these men are very bright and articulate. They are also made of tougher stuff than the rest of us.” Fatal Forecast has drawn praise from Boston Magazine which called it “A worthy successor to the Perfect Storm – a real page turner.” Kirkus Magazine wrote, “Fatal Forecast is told with excruciating intensity. A passionate story rendered with gusto.”

To read excerpts from the dramatic court case that resulted from the accident, visit After the program, Tougias will be signing books. He is best known for his award winning book Ten Hours Until Dawn, about a sea tragedy during the Blizzard of 78, which was selected by Booklist as an Editor’s Choice, “a white knuckle read, the best book of its kind.”


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