Lynn Library presents Fatal Forecast author

LYNN – Author Michael Tougias is bound for the Lynn Public Library to discuss his latest tale of terror at sea, a tragic story of North Shore lobstermen who drowned because of a faulty weather forecast.On Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., at 5 North Common St., Tougias will present a slide show and talk focused on the events contained in his latest book, “Fatal Forecast.”The author’s previous book, “Ten Hours Until Dawn”, was released two years ago and told the story of the ill-fated North Shore pilot boat Can Do, which sank with its crew during a rescue attempt amid the devastating 1978 nor’easter.His latest book is the story of two fishing vessels, the Fair Wind and the Sea Fever, which set out from Cape Cod on Nov. 21, 1980, hoping to catch offshore lobsters on Georges Bank. The extended weather forecast of calm seas and light breezes offered little reason for concern.Soon after reaching the fishing ground, they were hit with hurricane-force winds and 60-foot waves that relentlessly battered the boats. Captains and crew struggled heroically to keep their vessels afloat, but the storm was simply too powerful.One monstrous wave, estimated at 90 to 100 feet high, capsized the Fair Wind, trapping the crew inside. Meanwhile, aboard Sea Fever, Capt. Peter Brown of Gloucester, whose father owned the fishing vessel Andrea Gail of “Perfect Storm” fame, did his best to ride out the storm. But a giant wave blew out one side of the pilothouse, sending crewman Ernie Hazard of Peabody into the churning sea. Amazingly, Hazard managed to crawl inside a tiny inflatable life raft – only to be repeatedly thrown back into the water as he fought to endure over 50 hours adrift. The Coast Guard eventually rescued him.Tougias’ story has plenty of North Shore color.For example, Charlie Raymond of Beverly owned the steel-hulled Fair Wind. Billy Garnos, 30, of Beverly, was at the helm. Also aboard was Hazard, then 33; Rob Thayer, 22, of Hamilton; and Dave Berry, 20, of Marblehead.The wooden Sea Fever, captained by Brown, had aboard as crew the skipper’s brother, Gary Brown, married and expecting his first child with wife, Honour; Richard “Sarge” Rowell of Danvers; and 19-year old Brad Bowen from Connecticut.What they didn’t know would end up killing four of them. A vital weather-monitoring buoy on Georges Bank was malfunctioning and not relaying accurate data. Although forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were aware, they didn’t share this knowledge with mariners who listen to the government forecast on their VHF radios.According to Tougias, the day after the two lobster boats left Hyannis, schoolteacher Maria Pavlis of Lynn, fiancée of Fair Wind skipper Garnos, made a special trip to Boston and bought her wedding gown at Priscilla’s. Though she and Garnos had been engaged for only 11 days, she was deep in the joy of planning. Within days, Pavlis would simultaneously receive congratulations on her engagement and condolences for the loss of her betrothed.Brown’s widow joined with Berry’s parents and the Garnos family to file a lawsuit against the federal government. A trial in U.S. District Court in Boston ensued, with Judge Arthur Tauro presiding.Tauro granted the families $1.2 million in damages, but a higher appeals court ultimately overruled that decision on the grounds that “the act of weather forecasting is a discretionary function for which the U.S. government cannot be held liable.”Tougias, who often lectures on nautical topics, has authored 16 books. The page-turner “Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do” became a Boston Globe bestseller. The American Library Association selected it as one of its Top Books of the Year.Chief librarian Nadine M. Mitchell noted that Tougias’ previous appearance at the Lynn library, related to the publication of his book about the Can Do, packed the Smith Program Room.The February presentation is free and handicapped accessible. To reserve a seat, call

More Stories In News