Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea
Michael J. Tougias
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Now in paperback, a true story as spellbinding and harrowing as The Perfect Storm, “marvel- ous and terrifying” (Los Angeles Times)—published to herald the arrival of Tougias’s new hardcover, The Finest Hours.
On the morning of November 21, 1980, two small boats set out for Georges Bank, a lucrative but perilous lobster fishing ground off the coast of Cape Cod. The National Weather Service had forecast typical fall weather, and the young, rugged crewmen aboard the Sea Fever and the Fair Wind had no reason to expect that this trip would be any different from the dozens they’d made earlier in the season. But the only weather buoy in the area was malfunctioning, and the National Weather Service had failed to reveal this critical detail. And as the two small boats headed out to sea, a colossal storm was brewing to the southeast, a furious maelstrom that would batter the boats with sixty-foot waves and hurricane-force winds. A true story of catastrophe and survival at sea, this is a vivid moment-by-moment account of seventy-two hours in the lives of eight young fishermen. Most amazing is the story of Ernie Hazzard, who spent more than fifty terrifying hours adrift on the stormy open sea.
Gripping and heart-pounding, Fatal Forecast is an unfor- gettable true story about the collision of two spectacular forces: the brutality of nature and the human will to survive.
small amount of body heat, which would now dissipate immediately. A foot of water was sloshing inside the raft, and Ernie sat with his back against the canopy wall, facing the doorway, with his legs spread in front of him. He couldn’t help but wonder how long the raft would hold up against the onslaught. How long would it be before one of the air chambers ripped and sprang a leak? As soon as that thought entered his consciousness, he forced himself to forget it, to just be ready for whatever
happened next. He had to focus on what he could control, and that was himself. He could not dwell on the countless ways he might meet his end, but instead told himself, Fight, you son of a bitch, hang in there. Just a few more hours and this storm will have moved on. Then the Sea Fever or the Broadbill will find me. And if not them, then the Coast Guard will have planes looking for me. It was probably fortunate that Ernie didn’t know about the Sea Fever’s own desperate situation. Two hours had
into the icy seas of Georges Bank during a storm. The pilot, Lieutenant Commander James Stiles, thirty-three, and copilot, Captain George Burge, thirty-eight, were experienced fliers. Just weeks earlier Stiles had received the Fineberg Award from the American Helicopter Society for heroism and been named Pilot of the Year. Stiles had previously been stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, where pilots face some of the worst flying conditions in the world. There he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying
earlier. Pilots Baley and Touzin tried not to think about their friends who died in that accident, but found it impossible. Adding to their concern was a deep weariness from the already hectic day and an uncertainty about what kind of conditions they’d find out at Georges Bank. Although the winds had eased from hurricane force, they’d heard frightening reports about incredible wave heights of seventy feet. All they knew was that the Sea Fever had lost a man overboard and the vessel was foundering
city. He understood pressure, and that understanding was going to help him in this rescue. * * * On board the Sea Fever, Sarge felt a glimmer of hope that he, Peter, and Brad were going to make it without ending up in the water. Sometime between 4 and 5 p.m. he noticed that the wind outside the pilothouse had decreased somewhat in intensity. The waves were every bit as ferocious as before, but for the first time since 5 a.m. that morning, Sarge felt convinced that the seas would not grow any