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Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro




    May 26, 2018

    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Into the Raging Sea, by Rachel Slade is a …, May 1, 2018

    By Eric C Bryson

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

    This review is from: Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro (Hardcover)

    Into the Raging Sea, by Rachel Slade is a book with visceral impact. You know how the story ends, but through her narrative you gain insight into the lives of the crew of the El Faro, an understanding of the mechanics of the disaster, and why hubris should be included with sloth among the seven deadly sins.

    The construction of this book brings you through the event, braiding the timelines of the various elements involved seamlessly, allowing the reader an appreciation of the sinking of the El Faro that could not be gained even with a careful reading of the entire minutes of the National Transportation Safety Bureau investigation and of the United States Coast Guard inquiry. This is accomplished by carefully incorporating the relevant information from the NTSB and USCG with in depth investigative work.

    Ms. Slade’s research ranges from hours’ long interviews with the families of crew members, former crew members, former shipmates of the crew, and a Naval Architect involved with the original construction of the vessel. She also has taken a transoceanic voyage on a merchant vessel and trips with a harbor pilot on the St. Johns River to gain perspective on the working dynamic in that environment.

    Throughout the book there is a real sense of the author’s desire to “Get it right.” As a mariner with 30-plus years of experience in this industry, and as someone close to this incident, I think she does.


    May 26, 2018

    25 of 27 people found the following review helpful

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Investigative journalism and unrelenting pursuit of the truth at its best. Rachel Slade exposes irrefutable facts……., May 1, 2018

    By michael carr

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

    This review is from: Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro (Hardcover)

    Into the Raging Sea, By Rachel Slade

    Review by Michael Carr

    Until now I did not understood, or even began to grasp, how EL FARO sailed directly into Hurricane Joaquin and quickly sank, drowning her 33 crew.

    After EL FARO’s sinking in October 2015, a Coast Guard Board of Inquiry was initiated to find the cause of this tragedy. I attended several of the lengthy Coast Guard hearings, which worked to gather facts and at some point optimistically, illuminate or expose, failures which led to El Faro’s sinking.

    However, testimony from naval architects, engineers, meteorologists, seasoned mariners, managers from TOTE (EL FARO’s operator), and plethora of other “experts” only left me more confused and quizzical. Little of the testimony made sense in explaining this tragedy.

    At one of the many Coast Guard hearings I sat near Rachel Slade, who I soon learned was writing a book on EL FARO’s final voyage. We began talking, and Rachel asked me, as well as others, our thoughts, observations, and insight into this case.

    I sensed early on that Rachel might be the one who could find real answers. A reader might say at this point, “Wait, we know why EL FARO sank…the ship sailed into Hurricane Joaquin because her Captain had old weather forecasts, the forecasts were inaccurate, EL FARO’s old and tired boilers failed, and the ship was overcome by the huge seas and winds produced by Joaquin’s Category 3 force”.

    Yes, those are the dry facts on what occurred, but the real question, the unanswered question, until now, is how could El Faro’s seasoned and experienced Captain and crew, be seduced, deceived, and betrayed by a few late weather reports? This was far too simple an explanation.

    Rachel Slade dug in. She realized there was more than we were seeing & hearing. What is the real story? We all waited for the Coast Guard Accident Report to be published. I thought for sure the Coast Guard would uncover the “Ah hah!” fact or facts that would reveal what had gone wrong, and led to EL FARO’s tragic sinking. When the report was published I read all 282 pages, with a highlighter and pen in each hand. But no answers, just what we already knew: big hurricane, old weather reports, engine failure, flooding, sinking, 33 mariners drowned. I was left with why?

    Then Rachel Slade sent me a copy of her book Into the Raging Sea. And now I know why EL FARO sank. El Faro’s tragic story lies along a circuitous track, involving many individuals, organizations, and human frailties. Actions, events, decisions, and human behavior, as disparate & seemingly unrelated or relevant as speeding tickets, the Jones Act, Maritime Unions, greed, hubris, arrogance, and naiveté all play a role and contribute, finally, to explaining how El Faro sailed directly into Hurricane Joaquin and sank.

    I remember the first Coast Guard hearing on El Faro’s sinking. Admiral Greene, Tote’s Vice-President, was called as the first witness. I was sitting just a few feet behind Admiral Greene, in the spectator rows. I watched Admiral Greene intently, listening to his every word (as I did for all subsequent witnesses), and remember his testimony as being detached, disinterested in details, and his off-handed attitude.

    But what really stuck with me about Admiral Greene was that he crossed his legs under the witness table, and his legs bounced & fidgeted constantly during his nearly 45 minutes of testimony. I thought to myself “For an Admiral he is far too nervous and uncomfortable, why?” This and many other aspects of the forthcoming yearlong Coast Guard investigation caused me pause. Something is missing here.

    And now, finally we know the answer. Thanks to Rachel Slade’s determined investigation, journalistic persistence, and her ruthlessness to get at the truth (more than just dry facts concerning weather, and engines and maritime laws) about the people involved with El Faro. People, each of us, make endless choices and decisions, and each choice and decision portend consequences. Sometimes these consequences are inconsequential, and other times they are momentous. They can cause ships to sink.

    Into the Raging Sea is a riveting sea story of disaster and death. And many readers will likely leave it at that, but Into the Raging Sea is so much more. It resonates to the struggles and challenges faced by mariners making a living on the sea, and the impact our society has on people when it makes cold and detached decisions and laws based solely on economics and “return on investment”.

    Rachel Slade’s impressive work here has finally resolved that queasy feeling in my stomach, and nagging in the back of my brain. Now I know why El Faro sank. Rachel’s work reminds me of the message in Lawrence Hall’s short story “The Ledge”, “…..we wake each morning with promises to keep but “…there are things beyond the power of any man”…

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    May 26, 2018

    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Compelling & Heartbreaking, May 21, 2018

    By I. Hall (Jay, ME United States) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

    This review is from: Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro (Kindle Edition)

    A difficult read due to the tragedy that could have been prevented. A gripping story of failure and heartbreak.
    Author wanders a little wide of the main narration a couple times but in the end brings the story together to its sad conclusion.

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