Ten Hours Until Dawn

Tougias, Michael J., Ten Hours Until Dawn: the True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do. Read by Joe Barrett. Blackstone Audio, 2006.

I grew up on the water. As a child I went to sleep with the sound of the surf crashing in my ears. I could see the ocean out my schoolhouse windows. To go anywhere special I had to ride across the waves for over an hour. At an early age I was taught to respect the sea, to love the sea and yes, even to fear it. The very idea of drowning in the ocean fills me with such a horror I cannot fully articulate. I knew picking  up Ten Hours Until Dawn would be  a lesson in breathing through fear. I knew I did not want to face the doomed men of the Can Do. For that reason alone I chose to listen to Tougias’s story instead of read it.

Tougias was obviously influenced by Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger when he wrote Ten Hours Until Dawn. There have been many comparisons made of the two ocean-tragic books. In listening to the audio version of Ten Hours Until Dawn I appreciated the detail with which Tougias recounted the Can Do’s final hours thanks to actual radio transmission transcripts. In addition Tougias included many stories of other rescues and tragedies to illustrate his point of just how dangerous the ocean could be. The arch enemy of a boat is wind and the blizzard of 1978 produced winds topping 100 miles an hour. Seas were well over 40 feet. Tougias paints a touching biography of Frank Quirk, the civilian pilot-boat captain who gathered four other men to brave the blizzard elements to assist in the rescue of two other Coast Guard boats in peril that day. My only “complaint” would be of myself. Because Tougias includes many different rescues to illustrate different points (the bravery of a certain man, an example of fierce weather, the sea worthiness of a boat) if I wasn’t paying attention, I would get confused as to which tragedy Tougias was recounting. He frequently bounced between the “current” action of the Can Do and other incidents that happen before and after 1978.

As an aside, I loved Joe Barrett reading Ten Hours Until Dawn because he did such a good job with the voices. The nasal Boston accents cracked me up!

Reason Read: I threw this on my August list because June, July and August are the three months I love to be on the water.

Author Fact: In addition to sea stories I’m guessing Tougias likes to hike. He has coauthored several books about hiking across Massachusetts. I’m thinking about picking up one or two of them.

Book Trivia: As mentioned earlier, too many people like to compare Ten Hours Until Dawn to Sebastian Junger’s Perfect Storm. Like Perfect Storm I think they should make a movie out of Ten Hours Until Dawn!

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “See the Sea” (p 201).

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