In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain's Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History

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When Skip Strong, a thirty-two-year-old captain of the 688-foot oil tanker Cherry Valley received the call, all he knew was that an oceangoing tug with five men aboard was in distress off Florida's east coast. Caught in an unusually powerful storm, the tug's engines failed, and as the winds gusted to more than sixty miles per hour and the sea whipped into a frenzy, the tug-and the barge it was pulling-were in danger of being swept ashore.
Captain Strong also knew that he would follow the age-old tradition of sea rescue. Coming to the aid of the crew, the tug, and its cargo, he would have to maneuver his ship-laden with ten million gallons of oil-in extremely hazardous conditions. One mistake and Strong would be responsible for an ecological disaster on Florida's beaches equal to that of the Exxon Valdez.
What Captain Strong didn't know was that the tug was carrying a 150-foot aluminum fuel cell worth upwards of $50 million. And that in the instant he decided to rescue the tug and its crew, he was opening the door on a dramatic and tense legal struggle that would pit him against the United States government for salvage rights.
In Peril is a taut, well-paced, and riveting drama wrapped around a seagoing world few people have the opportunity to glimpse.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Strong and Braden's tale of an imperfect storm, three ships, and a daring rescue comes to vivid life in this gem of a book."--Publishers Weekly

"A marvelous yard about an incredible rescue."--The Bangor (ME) Daily News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592285945
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Skip Strong was thirty-two when he started sailing as captain of the Cherry Valley. He is now a ship pilot on Penobscot Bay. 

Twain Braden has worked as a navigation instructor and captain aboard traditionally rigged sailing vessels from Maine to the Caribbean. He now operates the vintage wooden schooner Bagheera, a 1924 John Alden design, out of the Old Port in Portland, Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

"Carl, get everyone off the deck. I'm going to come around and try again." I'm standing on the starboard bridge wing, rainwater up to my ankles, when I realize that the tug has slipped away. Our first attempt to get close enough almost worked, but I hadn't judged the speed well enough. The Cherry Valley had been moving too quickly, and the tug had passed astern. Hopefully the next pass will bring success.
But the ship has slowed to the point that she is nearly dead in the water; I will have to build speed and maneuver her through a 180-degree turn so that we can try again. Turning a laden ship dead in the water and beam-to in 20-foot seas - remaining close to an object adrift in these conditions - is not an easy task. First of all, it requires hard work from the engineers. The goal is to turn the ship without gathering too much headway, which I will just have to take off again in a few moments once the ship has completed the turn. The turn, if executed quickly, will likely shape a circle that is just over a quarter of a mile in diameter. The engineers, responding to my rapid-fire commands, will route steam from the boilers to the turbines, for quick bursts of revolutions, or vent it to prevent damaging the seals. With Paul Donnelly answering bells at the throttle and Ron Spencer manning the controls of the fuel-air-steam system, I can confidently assume that the ship will move in a graceful, however slow, arc through the breaking seas.
It is just after 0500 and still pitch black and raining hard as ever, as I start the turn for a second pass.
"Hard left, full ahead," I say to Chris and the helmsman, hoping to make as tight a turn as I can.
"Come on baby, start to turn," I mutter to myself. Glancing at the tachometer I see that the RPM have gone from 0 to 60 in what appears to be record time, and I can feel the wheel cavitate as it tries to bite into the water, but it takes what seems an eternity to hear the click of the gyro sounding off the turn. With no horizon to see - in the darkness and rain all I can see are the blinking lights of the tug a quarter mile away - I rely on the sound of the gyro and a look at the radar to see our heading. As she shoulders into the big seas on the port bow the click of the gyro almost stops, then picks up again as she slides down the back side. As she passes through the eye of the wind I bring her back to half ahead to keep the headway down and give her hard right rudder to steady her up on the new course as we reassess the situation.
"Chris, get a position. How far are we from the shoal?"
A minute later Chris calls back from the chartroom: "One mile, Captain."

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