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THE SHIP AND THE STORM:
Hurricane Mitch and the Loss of the Fantome



Book Description
In October 1998, one of the most savage storms in Atlantic history cornered a 282-foot passenger sailing ship against an exposed Caribbean coastline. With nowhere to hide and no time to run, Fantome turned to face Hurricane Mitch's assault of 180 mile-per-hour winds and 50-foot seas. As the eye of the storm approached, Fantome's satellite phone went dead. The ship and its 31 crewmembers simply disappeared, leaving only questions that won't go away.

The Ship and the Storm explores every facet of this tragic story. Was the ship seaworthy? Why did the captain put to sea with the storm approaching? What happened in the eye wall of the worst hurricane in 200 years? This riveting real-life drama is forensic journalism at its finest, taking us from the deck of the ship, to cruise company headquarters in Miami, to the National Hurricane Center. From Jim Carrier's extensive on-site research and hundreds of hours of interviews emerges a story of courage, and the power of nature.

From the Back Cover
Built for luxury on a grand scale, the Fantome was a 282-foot, steel-hulled, four-masted schooner commissioned by the Duke of Westminster in the Roaring Twenties to idle along the French Riviera. She was rescued from mothballs in 1971 by self-made Miami entrepreneur Mike Burke, founder of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, Ltd., who purchased the tall ship from Aristotle Onassis. For the next twenty-seven years, the Fantome lumbered through the Caribbean, carrying passengers on weeklong fantasy cruises, spiced with rum and sun.

Captain Guyan March, thirty-two years old, had spent his entire professional career aboard Mike Burke's aging fleet of tall ships. When he agreed to command the Fantome in the uncrowded waters of the Gulf of Honduras during hurricane season, he knew that a storm would leave him little time to run and few places to hide.

In October 1998, as March and his crew--most of them West Indians and most still in their twenties--neared the end of another cruise season, Tropical Storm Mitch whirled to life like a nebula in the southern reaches of the Caribbean. While hurricane specialists in Miami struggled to decipher satellite photos and conflicting readings, Mitch moved north, then west, ultimately growing into the fourth most powerful Atlantic storm on record as it plowed toward the Gulf of Honduras. After discharging his 97 passengers in Belize, Captain March-- with First Mate "Brasso" Frederick, Second Mate Onassis Reyes, and twenty-eight other crew--took the $20 million uninsured ship to sea to try to dodge the approaching storm.

Mitch would become the most destructive hurricane in Western Hemisphere history, leaving 18,207 people dead or missing. It would devastate Honduras. First, though, it would corner the Fantome in a deadly game of cat and mouse, confounding the experts' predictions and countering the ship's every move with eerie precision. Descending on the ship, it would expose every unexamined assumption to 180-mile-per-hour winds and 50-foot seas.

Based on journalist Jim Carrier's exhaustive research and hundreds of interviews--including Windjammer staff and passengers, the crew's families, and experts from the National Hurricane Center--The Ship and the Storm explores the story of the Fantome and Hurricane Mitch from every angle, cutting from the deck of the ship, to cruise company headquarters in Miami, to the research planes flying into the unspeakable heart of the storm, to islanders and coastal villagers in a desperate battle for survival. Heartbreaking and horrifying, this story won't let go.

About the Author
Jim Carrier is an award-winning journalist and author of seven books. He has written for National Geographic, SAIL, and the New York Times. After 20 years as a radio newscaster, Associated Press correspondent and newspaper editor, and 13 years as the Denver Post's "Rocky Mountain Ranger," he bought a 35-foot sailboat and moved aboard. A survivor of six hurricanes, including Luis, Marilyn, Georges, and Mitch, he has docked his yawl temporarily in Montgomery, Alabama.


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