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Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do

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In the midst of the Blizzard of 1978, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Capt In the midst of the Blizzard of 1978, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Captain Frank Quirk was monitoring the Coast Guard's efforts by radio, and when he heard that the patrol boat was in jeopardy, he decided to act. Gathering his crew of four, he readied his forty-nine-foot steel boat, the Can Do, and entered the maelstrom of the blizzard. Using dozens of interview and audiotapes that recorded every word exchanged between Quirk and the Coast Guard, Tougias has written a devastating, true account of bravery and death at sea, in Ten Hours Until Dawn.


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In the midst of the Blizzard of 1978, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Capt In the midst of the Blizzard of 1978, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Captain Frank Quirk was monitoring the Coast Guard's efforts by radio, and when he heard that the patrol boat was in jeopardy, he decided to act. Gathering his crew of four, he readied his forty-nine-foot steel boat, the Can Do, and entered the maelstrom of the blizzard. Using dozens of interview and audiotapes that recorded every word exchanged between Quirk and the Coast Guard, Tougias has written a devastating, true account of bravery and death at sea, in Ten Hours Until Dawn.

30 review for Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do

  1. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    This was an interesting book about the "blizzard of '78" and what happened to the pilot boat Can Do. It started with a distress call from the captain of the Global Hope, which then set this tragedy in motion.  Though the outcome of the story was obvious from the start, it was still hard to read how the last moments for the crew must have been like for them. The aftermath for some of the family members were heartbreaking as well. I think the author did excellent research on the subject. I came to c This was an interesting book about the "blizzard of '78" and what happened to the pilot boat Can Do. It started with a distress call from the captain of the Global Hope, which then set this tragedy in motion.  Though the outcome of the story was obvious from the start, it was still hard to read how the last moments for the crew must have been like for them. The aftermath for some of the family members were heartbreaking as well. I think the author did excellent research on the subject. I came to care about the individuals that were involved. I also like how he related other incidents at sea that were just as tragic and some that showed how much will and strength a person had to survive. Also, at the end of the book, there is a "where are they now?" section with the people that were closely involved with the rescue efforts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danm

    A true story, which makes it interesting, and my interest was piqued for a while. However, the author would veer off course too often, which would take me away from the excitement and dull my interest level. I put the book down twice and picked it back up, thinking I was tired. After the third time putting it down, I gave up (about 2/3 in). Some of the stories told were fascinating, but the non-linear approach just didn't seem to work for me here. This isn't necessarily a 3-Star book. It was jus A true story, which makes it interesting, and my interest was piqued for a while. However, the author would veer off course too often, which would take me away from the excitement and dull my interest level. I put the book down twice and picked it back up, thinking I was tired. After the third time putting it down, I gave up (about 2/3 in). Some of the stories told were fascinating, but the non-linear approach just didn't seem to work for me here. This isn't necessarily a 3-Star book. It was just a 3-Star book for me. This is a very subjective review. You might love it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Doug Cornelius

    I was school-age when the Blizzard of '78 unleashed its fury on New England. It was an historically powerful storm, bringing hurricane force winds and three feet of snow. The blizzard raged for a day and half when it stalled off the coast. For most kids this was a wonderful time. Our street was unplowed for a week until a front end loader finally managed to clear the snow. School was closed for weeks. Huge drifts of snow made for great sledding. But for many, the Blizzard brought destruction and d I was school-age when the Blizzard of '78 unleashed its fury on New England. It was an historically powerful storm, bringing hurricane force winds and three feet of snow. The blizzard raged for a day and half when it stalled off the coast. For most kids this was a wonderful time. Our street was unplowed for a week until a front end loader finally managed to clear the snow. School was closed for weeks. Huge drifts of snow made for great sledding. But for many, the Blizzard brought destruction and death. Michael Tougias tells one of those stories in Ten Hours Until Dawn . The most devastation from the Blizzard fell on the coast. The high winds and length of the storm lead to huge waves and violent seas. The tanker Global Hope was trying to ride out the storm under anchor in Salem Sound. The ship's anchor started dragging, the ship began floundering on the shoals and the captain sent out a mayday. The ninety-five foot Coast Guard cutter Cape George from Boston and the 210 foot Decisive from Provincetown fired up their engines and made way to the incident. Closer by, the Coast Guard sent a forty-one foot utility boat and a forty-four foot motor lifeboat from Gloucester Harbor. They set out into violent waters churned by the blizzard. The two smaller boats took a beating as soon as they passed the breakwater in Gloucester Harbor. Also hearing the call was Frank Quirk. He sat back waiting for the Coast Guard to do their job. Using his forty-nine foot Can Do, Quirk delivered pilots to incoming cargo ships. He was also a diver and had participated in rescue attempts. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the coastal waters. When the smaller boats got in trouble, Quirk fired up the engines and gathered a few friends. They headed out into the beast of storm slamming against the New England coast. The obvious comparison for this book is Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. Both books involved boats that left Gloucester Harbor and got caught in the teeth of a vicious storm. Junger crafted a story around the issues confronting swordfisherman, but had little information about what actually happened. The Andrea Gail and her crew were never heard from again. Ten Hours Until Dawn recreates the Can Do's battle with storm. Tougias had copies of radio transmissions to help him structure the story. He was also able to interview the participants and spectators to the events that took place in Salem Sound during the Blizzard of '78. It's a compelling story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chaz

    If you are thinking you have found a prequel to "The Perfect Storm" just dismiss the thought right now. This is an interesting and tragic story, but Sebastian Junger's writing is skillful and compelling. Tougias is merely competent and "Ten Hours Until Dawn" reads like an essay assignment written by a college freshman. It's a quick and easy read... And I wouldn't call it terrible by any stretch. But it will inevitably (and unfortunately) be compared Junger, and it just does not hold up. If you are thinking you have found a prequel to "The Perfect Storm" just dismiss the thought right now. This is an interesting and tragic story, but Sebastian Junger's writing is skillful and compelling. Tougias is merely competent and "Ten Hours Until Dawn" reads like an essay assignment written by a college freshman. It's a quick and easy read... And I wouldn't call it terrible by any stretch. But it will inevitably (and unfortunately) be compared Junger, and it just does not hold up.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike Rabasco

    The crew of the can do showed what compassion and wanting to help those in need. This is an eye opener and a book that keeps you on the end of your seat. RIP Frank and crew.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Into the Blizzard: Heroism at Sea During the Great Blizzard of 1978 Young Readers Adaptation seems to be a kids' version of this book. ***************** *The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea 3 stars by Sebastian Junger *Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do TBR by Michael J. Tougias Into the Blizzard: Heroism at Sea During the Great Blizzard of 1978 Young Readers Adaptation seems to be a kids' version of this book. ***************** *The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea 3 stars by Sebastian Junger *Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do TBR by Michael J. Tougias

  7. 5 out of 5

    Doreen

    FEBRUARY 6, 1978........... the "BLIZZARD OF '78"............RAVAGING BOTH LAND AND SEA. The book focuses on action taken regarding the Greek tanker, "Global Hope", which was at sea during the blizzard. Following an initial, obtuse radio message from the Global Hope, a second message from the tanker prompted the dispatch of patrol boats from Station Gloucester in Massachusetts. According to the tanker's panicked Captain, the vessel was, "...in dangerous place...water is coming... into engine. FEBRUARY 6, 1978........... the "BLIZZARD OF '78"............RAVAGING BOTH LAND AND SEA. The book focuses on action taken regarding the Greek tanker, "Global Hope", which was at sea during the blizzard. Following an initial, obtuse radio message from the Global Hope, a second message from the tanker prompted the dispatch of patrol boats from Station Gloucester in Massachusetts. According to the tanker's panicked Captain, the vessel was, "...in dangerous place...water is coming... into engine....hull is broken!". This message triggered efforts by the Coast Guard and others to locate and assist the tanker, its cargo, and its crew, as necessary. In typical, AMAZING fashion, Tougias's extensive research, attention to detail, and compassion for human suffering is evident on every page. Tougias relates the story of each emergency vessel; the close-calls, successes, failures, and crew morale and expertise. The 'Can Do' is at the heart of this terrifying, heroic, and heartbreaking adventure. And it is the 'Can Do', with its brave crew, that holds our attention and emotions well beyond the blizzard's conclusion. As with all of Tougias's stories, I appreciate the historical accuracy of his writing. Yes, I am left with intense sadness for individuals and families that I have never met. However, I believe that these stories need to be told in order to honor those who bravely gave their lives. Through the sorrow and loss, I believe that skill, bravery, and common goodness is celebrated. Tougias does justice to the families and loved ones left behind.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Excellent for those who enjoyed The Perfect Storm. The very sad story of the men of the Can Do, a pilot boat, and her crew who left the safety of Boston Harbor during the Blizzard of 1978. They were trying to help the crew of the tanker Global Hope that was foundering in the storm. Tougias also follows the crew of several Coast Guard vessel that also ran into great difficulty during the storm. Much of what happened on the Can Do can only be surmised from the radio messages received from the Can Excellent for those who enjoyed The Perfect Storm. The very sad story of the men of the Can Do, a pilot boat, and her crew who left the safety of Boston Harbor during the Blizzard of 1978. They were trying to help the crew of the tanker Global Hope that was foundering in the storm. Tougias also follows the crew of several Coast Guard vessel that also ran into great difficulty during the storm. Much of what happened on the Can Do can only be surmised from the radio messages received from the Can Do which functioned until almost the end. Hard to imagine the families of the crew listening in on the transmissions. It's ironic that the tragedies occurred just a few miles off shore. Visibility was so bad and conditions so horrific that little could be done to save them. It was literally every man for himself. Winds exceeded 100 mph and seas were over 40 feet high - hard to imagine navigating in such conditions with shoals all around. Apparently, after the incidents recounted in this boat, the Coast Guard redesigned the 41 foot rescue boats to have a hatch in the top so men could exit from an inverted hull. They were supposed to all be self-righting, but sometimes s**t happens. Another great irony is that tanker didn't need any assistance. Very well read and a real "page-turner."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Connie Curtis

    I am a huge fan of stories of the oceans. I've read tons of books on survival, shipwrecks, etc. This one told quite a few stories within the larger one about the storm off the New England coast in 1978 that wrecked the Can Do. The book went on and on about the storm and into great detail about what everyone on every boat was doing at the time. The story could have been told in half the time and still come out okay. By the end of the book, I was definitely ready for it to be over. I listened to th I am a huge fan of stories of the oceans. I've read tons of books on survival, shipwrecks, etc. This one told quite a few stories within the larger one about the storm off the New England coast in 1978 that wrecked the Can Do. The book went on and on about the storm and into great detail about what everyone on every boat was doing at the time. The story could have been told in half the time and still come out okay. By the end of the book, I was definitely ready for it to be over. I listened to this book, so it may be easier to skim it if you have the paper version.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I really enjoyed this book. I especially enjoyed the Author's note and (in the audio version) some of the actual radio recordings from that fateful night. I think this book shows real humanity, real people doing real things helping others and risking themselves because that's what good people do. I really don't feel adequate to write a good review, it's just such a good story and what makes it better is that it's all true. I really enjoyed this book. I especially enjoyed the Author's note and (in the audio version) some of the actual radio recordings from that fateful night. I think this book shows real humanity, real people doing real things helping others and risking themselves because that's what good people do. I really don't feel adequate to write a good review, it's just such a good story and what makes it better is that it's all true.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ethel Doucette

    This is an absolutely gripping factual account of the impact of the Blizzard of the century that pounded the New England coast in 1978. It includes actual recorded civilian conversations and Coast Guard radio communications from ship to shore during the horrific night. It was especially of interest to me as my husband was in the Coast Guard in the mid-sixties and served aboard the Cape George.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Johnson

    This book was true but awful. It's not well written, too many random facts that do not pertain to the main story and then a terrible end - like you didn't know it was coming. Don't bother reading it, there are way too many other books to spend time with. This book was true but awful. It's not well written, too many random facts that do not pertain to the main story and then a terrible end - like you didn't know it was coming. Don't bother reading it, there are way too many other books to spend time with.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ted Haussman

    For those of us who experienced the Blizzard of '78 in New England, this book reawakens memories of those crazy few weeks when snow drifts were so large that you couldn't tell if they covered an automobile or not, storm doors were sealed shut by the huge drifts of snow, normal vehicular traffic not only stopped but was prohibited, and we had to walk a mile or more to get staples, like milk, at any store that had it in stock (we had to call ahead). Although the book mentions a lot of these or simi For those of us who experienced the Blizzard of '78 in New England, this book reawakens memories of those crazy few weeks when snow drifts were so large that you couldn't tell if they covered an automobile or not, storm doors were sealed shut by the huge drifts of snow, normal vehicular traffic not only stopped but was prohibited, and we had to walk a mile or more to get staples, like milk, at any store that had it in stock (we had to call ahead). Although the book mentions a lot of these or similar details, it centers around an ocean drama which occurred in and around Gloucester and Salem Sound when a foreign oil tanker ran aground and called for help. The Coast Guard and the main character, good Samaritan(s), went to the rescue only to become search and rescue themselves. Some of the results were tragic, and the conditions that many on the water that day have never encountered since (even during the storm featured in Perfect Storm). I marveled at how the author was able to do so much with so little, because certain aspects of what happened are just known or knowable. It was an edge-of-your-seat true life, disaster book in the mold of Into Thin Air or Perfect Storm. I loved it, but confess that part of the appeal was having experienced the conditions, albeit on safe ground.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aileen Dodge

    MEMORIES WOW! Lots of memories are brought back after reading this book. And maybe more detailed memories than the previous book about the Blizzard of 78. I pray there will never be a storm as bad as February 1978. But our weather is constantly changing and not in a good way. Due to our treatment of our plant. So Nature as the most powerful force on this planet sometimes has to defend herself. The Storm of 78 should be looked at as an excellent example of the strength of nature. And by now we sho MEMORIES WOW! Lots of memories are brought back after reading this book. And maybe more detailed memories than the previous book about the Blizzard of 78. I pray there will never be a storm as bad as February 1978. But our weather is constantly changing and not in a good way. Due to our treatment of our plant. So Nature as the most powerful force on this planet sometimes has to defend herself. The Storm of 78 should be looked at as an excellent example of the strength of nature. And by now we should all realize that without, what we like to call, fair warning, nature can again flex her ultimate power and put use all back in place. So no one who lived through the storm of 78. Or who lived through the storm and lost a loved one to that storm ever wants to experience a storm as bad as 78 or worse, or to even experience the devastation following a MONSTER STORM like the BLIZZARD of 1978! And it would be horrible to again experience or even witness others experience such great personal lose due to unpredictable weather.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Another nonfiction page-turner by Michael Tougias. This book deals with the immense Blizzard of 1978 that blanketed New England in 18+ inches of snow and shut down the area for a week or more. The storm stalled on the Massachusetts coast, whipping up hurricane-force wind and waves, destroying seawalls, homes, boats, and more. The action in this tale is started by the captain of an oil tanker going in to Salem Harbor. He calls a Mayday (turns out it was unnecessary) and 4 Coast Guard boats from v Another nonfiction page-turner by Michael Tougias. This book deals with the immense Blizzard of 1978 that blanketed New England in 18+ inches of snow and shut down the area for a week or more. The storm stalled on the Massachusetts coast, whipping up hurricane-force wind and waves, destroying seawalls, homes, boats, and more. The action in this tale is started by the captain of an oil tanker going in to Salem Harbor. He calls a Mayday (turns out it was unnecessary) and 4 Coast Guard boats from various locations go into action, as well as the "Can Do," a Gloucester-based pilot boat skippered by local hero Frank Quirk, who often assisted the Coast Guard when needed. The book follows the fates of these 5 boats and the men onboard them. It's a fascinating, tragic tale, extremely well told.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Barrow

    Gripping, hard to put down, memorable, excellent book by a master storyteller. Mr. Tougias not only researches his books extensively, he transports the reader to that time/place. I was in Massachusetts during the Blizzard of '78 but never heard of the Can Do until I discovered this wonderful book. It, beautifully, pays tribute to the extraordinary individuals on board and provides inspiration for all of us. The book and story stay with you. Gripping, hard to put down, memorable, excellent book by a master storyteller. Mr. Tougias not only researches his books extensively, he transports the reader to that time/place. I was in Massachusetts during the Blizzard of '78 but never heard of the Can Do until I discovered this wonderful book. It, beautifully, pays tribute to the extraordinary individuals on board and provides inspiration for all of us. The book and story stay with you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephen J. Warren

    I tend to read fiction suspense, mystery novels and ignore non-fiction. After reading Ten Hours Until Dawn I am changing my opinion of non-fiction. This was a gripping account of man's undeniable inner strength to help, against all odds, to uphold the mariners code to go to the aid of their fellow mariners in a time of extreme danger with very little thought of their own safety. Page turner and excellent portrail of men and the sea. I tend to read fiction suspense, mystery novels and ignore non-fiction. After reading Ten Hours Until Dawn I am changing my opinion of non-fiction. This was a gripping account of man's undeniable inner strength to help, against all odds, to uphold the mariners code to go to the aid of their fellow mariners in a time of extreme danger with very little thought of their own safety. Page turner and excellent portrail of men and the sea.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a great but heartbreaking read. You know from the very beginning that it would not end well for the mariners aboard the Can Do, yet because of the detailed and thoughtful narrative, the reader cannot but hope that these men will be saved. If you are familiar with the Massachusetts coastline where this tragedy unfolds you will undoubtedly be on the edge of your seat throughout this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I appreciated this story as I was only 11 years old when the Blizzard of 78 hit. Mariners are truly a different breed. I was amazed to learn the boat was lost not too far from shore. Thank you Michael for writing this story!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andi Plouffe

    Although depressing and factual, the story wasn't written well. I enjoyed how afterwords they had a 'where are they now' section. Even sadder to know this was a true event. I felt for all those families. Although depressing and factual, the story wasn't written well. I enjoyed how afterwords they had a 'where are they now' section. Even sadder to know this was a true event. I felt for all those families.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn Solli

    The book was interesting and I learned a lot about the condition fishermen have to deal with on regular basis, but in this book the author took on to many different story's and it almost became confusing. The book was interesting and I learned a lot about the condition fishermen have to deal with on regular basis, but in this book the author took on to many different story's and it almost became confusing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deanna Lass

    I have read college history texts that were more interesting. The minutiae included was totally unnecessary. The whole thing should have been a short story. I felt as if I were reading the same plot over and over. I would not recommend this book to a friend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    My husband Paul read this and said it was excellent. It is a story about the blizzard of 1978.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lugene Lancaster

    Now I know more of the sacrifice given to help others.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    A good, thorough, and emotional recounting of a harrowing storm off the Massachusetts coast.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Mullins

    Incredible account of a real life event....the Blizzard of 1978. Very well written; I couldn't put the book down! Incredible account of a real life event....the Blizzard of 1978. Very well written; I couldn't put the book down!

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Kenney

    Blizzard Riveting story of the Blizzard of ‘78, thoroughly researched and brilliantly written. A tribute to search and rescue professionals everywhere.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Didn't hold my attention as much as other books of his. Didn't hold my attention as much as other books of his.

  29. 5 out of 5

    james caron

    great story lots of local areas mentioned, local history if you are old enough to remember and a great story about life on the sea

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Newfell

    Outstanding account by local Massachusetts author Michael Tougias. Exciting, tragic and well written, the story pulls you in, while you are hoping against the tragedy mentioned in the title. A great account of a little known part of the Blizzard of 1978.

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