Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro

Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro

by Rachel Slade

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Overview

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

ONE OF JANET MASLIN’S MUST-READ BOOKS OF THE SUMMER

A NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR'S CHOICE

ONE OF OUTSIDE MAGAZINE’S BEST BOOKS OF THE SUMMER

ONE OF AMAZON'S BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR SO FAR

“A powerful and affecting story, beautifully handled by Slade, a journalist who clearly knows ships and the sea.”—Douglas Preston, New York Times Book Review

“A Perfect Storm for a new generation.”
Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook

On October 1, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin barreled into the Bermuda Triangle and swallowed the container ship El Faro whole, resulting in the worst American shipping disaster in thirty-five years. No one could fathom how a vessel equipped with satellite communications, a sophisticated navigation system, and cutting-edge weather forecasting could suddenly vanish—until now.

Relying on hundreds of exclusive interviews with family members and maritime experts, as well as the words of the crew members themselves—whose conversations were captured by the ship’s data recorder—journalist Rachel Slade unravels the mystery of the sinking of El Faro. As she recounts the final twenty-four hours onboard, Slade vividly depicts the officers’ anguish and fear as they struggled to carry out Captain Michael Davidson’s increasingly bizarre commands, which, they knew, would steer them straight into the eye of the storm. Taking a hard look at America's aging merchant marine fleet, Slade also reveals the truth about modern shipping—a cut-throat industry plagued by razor-thin profits and ever more violent hurricanes fueled by global warming.

A richly reported account of a singular tragedy, Into the Raging Sea takes us into the heart of an age-old American industry, casting new light on the hardworking men and women who paid the ultimate price in the name of profit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062699879
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 65,238
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Rachel Slade is a Boston-based journalist, writer, and editor. She was a staff writer at Boston magazine for ten years, and her writing earned her a City and Regional Magazine Award in civic journalism. She splits her time between Brookline, Massachusetts, and Rockport, Maine.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters xiii

Chain of Command Aboard El Faro xvii

El Faro Plans and Section xviii

Map of the Final Voyage of El Faro xx

A Note on the Text xxiii

Part 1

Chapter 1 The Clock Is Ticking 3

Chapter 2 Blount Island 7

Chapter 3 Tropical Storm Joaquin 19

Chapter 4 Third Mate Jeremie Riehm 29

Chapter 5 A Hurricane is not a Point on a Map 47

Chapter 6 Second Mate Danielle Randolph 59

Chapter 7 Collision Course 69

Chapter 8 Hull Number 670 81

Chapter 9 Afternoon 97

Chapter 10 Captain Michael Davidson 111

Chapter 11 Question Authority? 121

Chapter 12 The Jones Act 135

Chapter 13 Evening 147

Chapter 14 Night 159

Chapter 15 Necesitamos La Mercancía 167

Chapter 16 Dawn 177

Chapter 17 The Raging Sea 185

Chapter 18 We're Gonna Make It 195

Part 2

Chapter 19 We've Lost Communication 203

Chapter 20 Search and Rescue 215

Chapter 21 Flight to Jacksonville 229

Chapter 22 Ships Don't Just Disappear 241

Chapter 23 Profit and Loss 253

Chapter 24 The Truth Is Out There 265

Chapter 25 How to Sink a Ship 277

Chapter 26 Admiral Greene Clears the Air 283

Chapter 27 Portrait of Incompetence 299

Chapter 28 Mission Number Two 311

Chapter 29 The Proof is in the Pudding 319

Chapter 30 Voices 331

Chapter 31 Twenty-Four Minutes 339

Chapter 32 Spirits 345

Epilogue 351

Crew List 365

Acknowledgments 367

A Note on Sources 371

Index 375

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Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous 25 days ago
This is an incredibly researched and written book. I learned a lot. It was very respectful to the victims of this tragedy and their families. I know that I am a polar opposite of the author concerning politics and climate change. Preach climate change to China, India, Russia, and the countries of Africa and South America. However, this is such a good book that I could put our differences aside. Usually I can not do that. I could not put the book down and found myself constantly thinking and talking about it. The books has a haunting quality to it that grips you. I highly recommend.
Anonymous 4 months ago
As sad as this story was it was difficult to get through as there was too much written about the history of ships and topography. Lots of acronyms also which got confusing after awhile.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Was enjoying this book - schematic of the ship and information was superb and it obviously was well researched... until she started inserting her political views, such as ..."President Trump and his white supremacist leanings". Sad to do to such work.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Very good presentation of the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rachel Slade has superbly researched and retold this modern day sea story. It’s like reading a novel, but it’s a true story. And it raises so many good questions to keep pondering. Must read!
Richardson54 More than 1 year ago
I remember hearing about the El Faro on the local news down here in Florida. This is a good account of the tragedy but the author strays off course. The doomed ship's black box preserved the dialogue amongst the crew. As one reads further you learn of all the factors leading to the tragic sinking. Unfortunately the author sends a shot across the bow at President Trump. The reference was such an incredible stretch to a book about the sinking of the El Faro. The author showed poor discipline by injecting her disdain of the POTUS into a fact based book on this tragedy. If I want to hear about Trump I'll watch MSNBC, Fox, and, CNN. The author also delves into global warming. It may exist but there is not empirical evidence that it has increased the number of hurricanes. This at least had some relevance to the book versus the Trump shot. I read to relax and take a respite from politics. That didn't happen here. I don't buy books for the pictures. I do think that the pictures of the crew would have enhanced the book.
Richardson54 More than 1 year ago
I remember hearing about the El Faro on the local news down here in Florida. This is a good account of the tragedy but the author strays off course. The doomed ship's black box preserved the dialogue amongst the crew. As one reads further you learn of all the factors leading to the tragic sinking. Unfortunately the author sends a shot across the bow at President Trump. The reference was such an incredible stretch to a book about the sinking of the El Faro. The author showed poor discipline by injecting her disdain of the POTUS into a fact based book on this tragedy. If I want to hear about Trump I'll watch MSNBC, Fox, and, CNN. The author also delves into global warming. It may exist but there is not empirical evidence that it has increased the number of hurricanes. This at least had some relevance to the book versus the Trump shot. I read to relax and take a respite from politics. That didn't happen here. I don't buy books for the pictures. I do think that the pictures of the crew would have enhanced the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book don't start it when you have something else to do you can't put it down.
billmarsano More than 1 year ago
By Bill Marsano. Sixty-five-year-old Paul McHenry Washburn, Captain of the S.S. Stella Lykes, is on the bridge of the brief but superb “Looking for a Ship,” wherein he speaks the dangers of weather at sea. Licensed as a “Master of United States Steam or Motor Vessels of any gross tons upon oceans,” he says feelingly to author John McPhee “Every day, someone somewhere is getting it from weather . . . . They’re disappearing without a trace.” On Oct. 1, 2015 such was the fate of the El Faro, at 790-foot container ship bound from Jacksonville, Fla. to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Halfway there she was run deliberately into Hurricane Joaquin, and was overwhelmed and sunk with all 33 souls aboard. How could that happen to an all-American ship—American-owned, -crewed and -officered, loaded with modern communications and navigational aids? In this book author Rachel Slade tells us, little more than two years later, tell us what happened and why. El Faro was, to begin with, 40 years old long past her scrapping date; moreover she was undermanned and poorly maintained by profit-hungry, cost-cutting owners; and her master was unengaged, a “stateroom captain,” heedless of his officers’ advice and preoccupied with his failing career. And so El Faro went into the whirlwind and disappeared—but not exactly without a trace. The first, unrecognized at the time, was the tremendous thud recorded by Navy hydrophones when El Faro slammed into the seabed of the Bahamas. The second is the voice recording of all on El Faro’s bridge, preserved in the “black box” of her VDR, or Voyage Data Recorder, recovered a month after her sinking. Relying on the recording and her intensive interviews and research, Slade succeeds in weaving a deep and sensitive tapestry: the victims—terrified, resigned, brave to the end--become real human beings; the causes of the sinking, small and large, coalesce into the powerful force that sent El Faro to the bottom 15,000 feet down—deeper than the Titanic. I recommend you read both books—Slades and McPhees. You will not forget them.—Bill Marsano is a veteran writer and editor who from age 12 spent three summers on tramp freighters in the Caribbean as an illegal and marginally competent cabin boy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago