Top positive review
A great read for anyone who goes to sea or hopes to
Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2019
As the owner/captain of a small Nordhavn motoryacht that has safely carried me and my small crew across the Atlantic, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who goes to sea or hopes to. It's a tragic sea story well-told, and, as someone who's spent much of his life at sea aboard Navy ships and small yachts, it really grabbed me. I'd already read the Coast Guard report on the sinking, and the one from the National Transportation Safety Board too, but Rachel Slade's book breathes life into the tragedy and helps readers experience it almost in real-time through the eyes of those who died in the sinking.
Slade was able to quote conversations on the bridge of the doomed El Faro precisely because the voyage data recorder (VDR) was recovered after the sinking, a long, diffcult process she details book, chapter and verse. The VDR contained the last 26 hours of conversation, right up to the last words spoken on the bridge as the ship was going down.
With its focus on leadership, bridge management, weather and weather routing, the trustworthiness of weather forecasts, seamanship, hull design, stability, downflooding, and more, Into the Raging Sea holds worthy lessons for those who go to sea. While the loss of the ship had many contributing factors, all detailed in the book, the main culprit was a stubborn, taciturn captain who simply would not or could not listen to the counsel of his subordinates as his ship sailed directly for the eye of Hurricane Joaquin. I was amazed that the captain paid no attention to the continually dropping barometer as an indicator that he was closing in on the eye; I'm not sure he ever was even aware of what the barometer was doing. Aboard my boat, the barometer (barograph) is a PRIMARY weather indicator. Always.
Slade also focuses on the pass-the-buck management style of Tote, the ship's operator, and the relentless emphasis the company placed on profits and getting the job done as opposed to properly maintaining its ships and looking out for the safety of those onboard. Symptomatic of that is the fact that El Faro had no working anemometer for gauging wind speed and direction, forcing the watch officers to estimate and guess.
She interviewed hundreds of experts in doing her research for this book, and those interviews add depth and humanity to what might otherwise be a very dry book. Instead, she kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.
One of my best reads this year!