Not Without Hope|
Nick Schuyler and Jere Longman
William Morrow, 246pp, 25.99
This is not a fun book. In fact, I had a lively debate with myself about reviewing it at all.
It is a true story of terrible loss, worse, unnecessary loss...the saddest of adventures on the water that I have read in a long while. The redeeming aspect of the tale is in the lesson it teaches and I realized that everyone who reads the book might be in a position to save a life (maybe even his own) someday, so here's the scoop.
In late February, 2009, four young men (twenty-somethings at the top of their game, including two NFL foot ball players) left Clearwater, Florida, in a twenty-one-foot, center console fiberglass boat powered by a two-hundred horsepower outboard, for a day of fishing. Their destination was an artificial reef about seventy miles from shore. The Gulf was choppy as they left. A cold front with accompanying unsettled weather was approaching. The boat owner, Marquis, was a fanatical fisherman and had been to the reef (apparently a sunken ship) before and had a fabulous day of catching the big fish.
The sea kicked up increasingly throughout the day and they finally decided to head in. Trying to haul the anchor, Marquis realized that it was is caught on the bottom. The same thing had happened the last time he had come out to this spot and he had cut the line like a sensible boater. This time he was irritated that it had happened again to the new anchor that had just cost him $200. Instead of cutting the anchor line again, he tied it to the stern and gunned the boat. This particular piece of bad judgment happens on page thirty-six of the book. The following 200-plus pages recount a harrowing and tragic survival story--which includes the storm that was forecast early in the day.
As the narration proceeds, it becomes clear to any reader, who has some solid boating experience, that mistake after mistake had been made by these pumped-up and happy-go-lucky young men, throughout their day that would diminish their chances of survival in the water; but I would sound like a scold to list them. The story is in essence a list of what not to do and you, dear reader, will be able to tick off the errors with sadness and frustration as you read on. Don't give up, though. The life you save may be your own.
On a positive note, the book is well-written and tensely paced. Jere Longman, co-author, is a sports writer for The New York Times. Author, Nick Schuyler comes across as earnest as the day is long and forever changed by the ordeal. He attributes his survival to his horror of imagining his mother at his funeral. The heroes in this book are the members of the USCG search team--both helicopter and vessel crews who persevered under miserable, sometimes near black-out conditions for more than forty hours. The rescue photographs are truly dramatic and the lessons from this book will stay with you. Please pass them on.