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

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Overview

"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 interviews and audiotapes that recorded every word exchanged between Quirk and the Coast Guard, Michael J. Tougias has written a true account of bravery and death at sea.
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Raymond Puffer
In February 1978, the ocean-going tanker Global Hope was discharging its cargo at Salem, Massachusetts when it discovered that water had mixed with the oil in its tanks. The ship moved out a few miles into Salem Sound, where it anchored to let the water settle out. Unknown to its crew, growing winds were swiftly developing into the famed Blizzard of 1978, and within a few hours the ship was taking on water and fighting for its life amid huge seas in zero visibility. The Coast Guard immediately dispatched a small powerboat into the howling winds to the rescue. Overhearing the radio traffic, the pilot boat Can Do in Gloucester immediately headed south to help. The book tells the story of this three-sided drama, and the reader will just have to wait until the end to find how it all came out. There are many reasons for praising this book. First of all, the tale is true, and the author is a professional writer who is skilled enough to let his story tell itself. The radio messages from all three vessels were preserved and therefore much of the narrative was provided by the actual people involved. Readers learn firsthand how mariners handle emergencies at sea, how the US Coast Guard functions, and a great deal of practical seamanship. Mostly, though, this is just a thundering good sea story, chockfull of drama and real-life nautical details. Salem Sound is a nasty roadstead at the best of times, full of sandy shoals and granite ledges waiting just below the surface to rip out the belly of any vessel venturing too close. No matter how familiar, close, nor how well charted, the sea is never your friend.
Kirkus Reviews
Reconstructed series of events in an aborted rescue attempt at sea during the Blizzard of the Century. Syndicated newspaper columnist Tougias looked again at his Blizzard of '78 (2002) and thought he saw the kernel of another whole tome in the exploits of Massachusetts pilot-boat skipper Frank Quirk and his crew. In 1978, during what turned into a February maelstrom that people who lived through it on the New England coast still vividly remember, Quirk voluntarily put to sea from Gloucester in his 49-foot, steel-hulled Can Do. His aim, with the five who agreed to accompany him, was to offer assistance to Coast Guard units already dispatched to aid an oil tanker, the Global Hope, reported by its panicked captain to have drifted from anchorage and possibly run aground off Salem, down the coast. The author has ably put together the ensuing scenario from taped radio communications and extensive interviews with "Coasties" who were also at sea and with others monitoring the situation that night; but, since the reader already knows full well there's a tragedy in the offing, the suspense is minimal. Everything is bad, the appalling weather and what its prevailing sea conditions did not only to the Can Do but to the much larger CG vessels. Fleshing it out to 320 pages, however, requires that Tougias abruptly and too frequently digress from the ongoing emergency-which it is from the outset-to present historical notes, shipwreck lore, meteorological perspectives, specifications and missions of various Coast Guard vessels, etc., etc. The net effect is the rather unfortunate one of postponing the inevitable. The notion, raised locally after the fact, that Quirk never should have been where he was isdismissed by the author in favor of the act's apparent raw heroism. A must-maybe-for marine disaster buffs; others should watch out for the rocks.
From the Publisher
"Arguably the best story of peril at sea since Sebastian Junger's Perfect Storm. His balancing of human and technical detail is nearly perfect, and he has made the book accessible even to relative newcomers to maritime literature. All readers may sincerely hope that Tougias will produce further such superb chronicles."

—Booklist, starred review

"Tougias delivers a well-researched, vividly written tale of brave men overwhelmed by the awesome forces of nature. An absorbing account…"

——Publishers Weekly

"Ten Hours Until Dawn is every bit as gripping as the best adventure fiction."

—-Midwest Book Review

"While some might compare Ten Hours to Sebastian Junger's Perfect Storm, Tougias' book is very different, often better, in significant ways." ——Metrowest Daily News

"The events (of that night) are chronicled masterfully in Tougias' gripping new book, Ten Hours Until Dawn." —-Offshore Magazine

"Absolutely amazing—what a movie this would make!" ——Paul Sullivan, WBZ Radio

"This is a riveting, fast-paced story will keep you awake at night and stay in your mind days after it's finished." ——-South County Independent

"A fascinating story and just as good as The Perfect Storm" —- Portsmouth Herald

"An incredible tale of heroism and sacrifice."

—- Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award winner

"Ten Hours Until Dawn reads so much like a fiction thriller that I had to pause now and then to remind myself the events were real." —-Portland Herald "Maine Today"

"Tougias spins the yarn with tense realism and you'll find yourself turning the pages at an alarming rate." —-The Valley Advocate

"I was a college senior in Providence, Rhode Island, during the Blizzard of '78—-a meteorological holocaust of snow and wind that I'll never forget. To learn twenty-six years later that there were men brave enough to attempt a rescue at sea during that storm still has me awestruck with wonder. Michael Tougias's Ten Hours Until Dawn tells their story—-an incredible tale of heroism and sacrifice."

—-Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller In the Heart of the Sea

"With a steady hand, Michael Tougias draws us into the vortex of this historic winter storm of 1978 and a high-seas rescue attempt gone wildly awry. The dynamics of this adventure alone would make it well worth the journey. But as a writer, Tougias's true gift is his ability to plumb the depths of human emotion, to take us ever deeper into the hearts of those who survived the ordeal—-and even into the lives of those who did not. He re-creates not only the superhuman efforts between the imperiled crewmen and their would-be rescuers, but the gut-wrenching experience of their loved ones waiting helplessly ashore. In this he clearly succeeds. We come away feeling that we know these people, that we understand what it must have been like for them, and our hearts go out to them."

—-Spike Walker, bestselling author of Coming Back Alive and Working on the Edge

"What a story! Tougias's research and writing make the reader feel as if he is onboard the Can Do during the Blizzard of '78. Ten Hours Until Dawn is a gripping book about a fascinating event of courage and tragedy that few people, including those of us who were deeply involved in fighting that storm, know enough about."

—-Michael Dukakis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312334352
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Tougias is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the award-winning author of fifteen books. His latest book, The Blizzard of '78, was a Boston Globe bestseller. He is also the coauthor of King Philip's War and There's a Porcupine in My Outhouse (Best Nature Book of 2003—-Independent Publishers Association). He lives in Franklin, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Ten Hours Until Dawn

The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do
By Tougias, Michael

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 2006 Tougias, Michael
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0312334362

Chapter One

The Gathering Storm

Frank Quirk, Jr., often spent the night aboard the Can Do, and on the morning of February 6, 1978, he awoke on his vessel wondering when it would snow. The prior evening's weather forecast called for snowfall to begin in the early-morning hours, yet there wasn't a flake in the sky, just low leaden clouds and a bitter cold breeze. He could have caught a little more sleep, because no piloting jobs were scheduled, but that wasn't his nature. The forty-nine-year-old former navy Seabee (construction battalion), with a wife and three children, was disciplined and full of energy. Although Frank's crew-cut style hair was mostly gray, he kept in tip-top shape and was quite strong, with a stocky build. He was well liked, with an easygoing manner and a ready smile.

Frank had been plying these waters for over twenty years and had a healthy respect for the sea, but he also knew the location of most every peril and felt comfortable navigating his boat in all kinds of weather, even on the darkest nights. He considered himself quite fortunate: his work allowed him to be his own boss and, instead of being trapped in an office, he could be on theocean nearly every day. Frank loved the sea, both the freedom it affords as well as its challenges and ever-changing nature. He felt the same about the Can Do, which he had dubbed with the Seabees' motto.

Among Gloucester's fishing and boating community Frank was well known. He had received two Mariner's Medals for heroism at sea and countless times aided boaters in distress. Sometimes he just brought fuel to a skipper who had run out of gas, or dived overboard to retrieve a pair of eyeglasses dropped by a careless boater. One recreational boater recalls radioing for assistance when the engine on his runabout conked out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Frank was relaxing on the Can Do, several miles away. When no boaters close to the runabout came on the radio, Quirk went on the air, offering a tow from Gloucester to the boat's home port in Marblehead, several miles away. The tow and return trip consumed six or seven hours of Quirk's day off, but he refused to accept any payment. He usually just said, "It was nothing at all," or if the boat had fishermen aboard, "Just throw me a fish next time you see me." His kids said Frank brought home a lot of fish and lobsters.

On that Monday morning, Quirk was listening to the marine radio in the Can Do's wheelhouse. Surrounded by small rectangular glass windows, he had a good view of Gloucester's inner harbor, where all manner of boats were docked, from battered and rusting fishing trawlers to sleek modern pleasure yachts. The National Weather Service was announcing an updated weather forecast, saying the snow was still coming and would be accompanied by high winds. Meteorologists explained that the snowfall could be significant and some even used the term blizzard, but few gave any inkling that New Englanders were about to be pounded by a blizzard of incredible proportions. New England's "storm of the century" was on the way, heading directly up the eastern seaboard toward Massachusetts.

The storm was a deceptive one at this early stage. It was located off the Maryland coast, and during the morning hours the mid-Atlantic states as well as New Jersey and New York were receiving significant snowfall accompanied by strong winds. This region, however, was absorbing just a glancing blow compared to what was in store for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, because with each passing hour the storm intensified. The storm was strengthening so rapidly, meteorologists later would refer to it as a "bombo-genesis" or simply a bomb. As it moved north, winds would go from "strong" to hurricane-force, clocked at a ferocious 92 miles per hour when they reached Massachusetts. Winds of this magnitude caught everyone off guard, and no meteorologist predicted the other surprise the storm had in store--that it would stall south of Nantucket Island, allowing it to concentrate its full strength just to the north, along coastal Massachusetts. Before the storm finally headed out to sea its raging winds coupled with three feet of snow would claim ninety-nine lives.

After a quick breakfast, Frank did a little engine maintenance down in the underbelly of the Can Do, followed by some paperwork. About the time his work was finished, the wind began kicking up a considerable chop in the harbor. A few flakes of dry snow began falling as Frank left the Can Do and walked to his car, pulling the collar of his jacket more snugly around his neck in the cold breeze. His coat was a gift from the Gloucester Coast Guard Station, an olive green officer's jacket, which Frank wore with pride. He hopped in his car and drove southwest on Rogers Street and Western Avenue, along the waterfront, passing the Coast Guard station and the Fisherman's Memorial, where the names of hundreds of men lost at sea are etched in granite blocks. At the western end of Gloucester Harbor he crossed the drawbridge that spans the narrow canal connecting the harbor to the Annisquam River. Then he turned right on Essex Avenue and pulled into the parking lot of the Cape Ann Marina, where a large American flag snapped overhead. Frank was greeted by his friend and marina vice president Louis Linquata, who was not surprised to see him. Frank always wanted to be near his boat during foul weather and make himself available just in case the Coast Guard needed his services.

Linquata and Frank were joined by maintenance supervisor Gard Estes, and the three men fanned out to the marina's many docks to secure boats and equipment. A few people lived on their boats year-round, and as Gard tightened lines he made sure no one intended to remain aboard a boat during the storm. The breeze died down briefly, and in the eerie calm Gard noticed he was being followed by three seagulls, walking on the dock just three feet behind him. When he stopped they stopped, but as soon as he resumed walking they stayed right at his heels. Usually the gulls gave Gard a wide berth, yet that day they followed him everywhere, as did two ducks in the water, and he wondered if the birds knew something about the coming snow that he didn't.

When the men's work was done at 1:00 p.m. they went inside for lunch and a beer. The marina's restaurant and lounge were only a few years old, and its furnishings still looked new. One of Gard's friends had recently added his own personal touch, bringing in a six-foot-long Styrofoam bluefin tuna and hung it on the back wall "to add a little more character." The tuna was so well crafted that most customers thought it was a mounted specimen caught off Georges Bank. On one side of the restaurant a polished wooden bar with a blue Formica top ran from end to end, and adjacent to that was a wall of large glass sliding doors that opened to a deck above the river. The other two walls were finished with rough pine, stained a light gray, giving the restaurant a rustic feel. In the back corner, a large metal cone-shaped fireplace radiated heat, emitting a pleasant scent of wood smoke. The restaurant and bar had become a cozy meeting place for Frank's wide circle of friends from Gloucester, including cops, carpenters, and fishermen.

Sitting down to a bowl of steaming chowder at the bar, Frank looked out the sliders and noticed how the wind had picked back up and was angrily stirring the black waters of the Annisquam River. The snow was still relatively light, but it was now being driven horizontally each time a particularly strong gust swept up the river from the ocean. During lunch the three men discussed the latest weather reports and learned that the snow was piling up in Providence, Rhode Island, ninety miles away, and that peak gusts of wind at Boston's Logan Airport had hit 45 miles per hour. At this point it was still possible that the storm might swing out to sea and spare Gloucester, but their eyes told them otherwise; outside the sky was getting darker and it looked more like dusk than midday.

Over the course of the afternoon the men were joined by other friends: commercial fisherman Kenneth Fuller, thirty-four, of Rockport; Norman David Curley, thirty-five, a Gloucester electrician; and thirty-six-year-old Don Wilkinson of Rockport, who managed the Captain's Bounty Motor Lodge. The men were relaxed, eating chowder and sipping beer while shooting the breeze, glad for an early end to the workday because of the approaching storm. Being the only customers in the restaurant, they could be as noisy as they liked, and because they were all such good friends they started teasing one another. Some of the men were standing around the bar, others sitting and smoking cigarettes. Frank enjoyed himself as much as his friends, but he also had one ear glued to the radio, monitoring the news about the storm.

At midafternoon the group was joined by Bill Lee, an oil barge captain who filled commercial vessels with fuel. Lee knew all the men, as their paths frequently crossed either on the waterfront or in the harbor. He and Frank had a lot in common, as they were both navy Seabees and they saw each other almost every day while they were working. Sometimes Frank would be in the Can Do waiting to off-load a pilot and Lee would be right next to him in his barge waiting to fuel the ship. Lee considered Frank an excellent mariner and very competent.

Lee socialized with the other men at the marina and recalled how nobody called Curley by his real first name of Norman, because he went by his middle name, David. "He was a quiet guy," said Lee, "but he could be very funny. And he could take a joke, too: we always gave him the business about his bald head. He was at home on boats, because he had a twenty-four-foot cabin cruiser that he loved. He was always there to do a favor. Don Wilkinson was always talking about his two children and wife. His big thing was football, and I remember he went to the Superbowl every year. Don also raced powerboats. He was the bookworm of the group as well, and very bright. At one time he ran the marina and later became its business manager."

Lee recalls Kenny Fuller as a street-smart guy who was constantly coming up with new ideas to make money. He was a real free spirit who was always up for fun but willing to pitch in if work needed to get done. As a commercial fisherman who owned his own boat, he would go far offshore fishing for tuna in the summer and fall and often ended the season by navigating his vessel from Gloucester to Florida.

When Lee joined the group at the marina that afternoon he told Frank that while he was out fueling boats he had heard that the Global Hope was dragging anchor down in Salem. The northeast winds had pushed the ship a few hundred feet to the southwest, despite its having its anchor set. "I realized," says Lee, "that was one of the ships Frank had brought in and figured he'd want to know. By this time it was snowing pretty good and the winds were getting stronger each hour."

The first people to notice that the ship had shifted position were concerned residents along the Beverly waterfront. They called local police who in turn notified Warren Andrews, the operator of the Salem Control (Radio) Station, which monitored all shipping in busy Salem Channel. Andrews had lost his sight at a young age but was a superb radio control operator, able to juggle all the incoming radio traffic and coordinate the activity. He always wore dark glasses and kept his graying hair combed straight back. His radio control room was off an L-shaped addition to his house, and Andrews knew exactly where each piece of communication equipment was located and was able to glide from one radio to another on a wheeled swivel chair. Warren grew up in Salem, and he could remember all the features of Salem Harbor from when he had his sight. Frank's son Frank III recalls several visits to Warren with his dad: "Warren was amazing. He could move from one radio to the next in that control room in an instant. I marveled at his skill without the ability to see. I once said to my dad, 'Are you sure he's blind?'" Others compared Warren to an old lighthouse keeper, because he was always there.

Andrews made tape recordings of most of his daily radio activity, as a way to check facts at a later date if someone had a question Andrews couldn't answer off the top of his head. That afternoon was no exception, and the tape chronicles how Warren notified the nearest Coast Guard station (in Gloucester) when the first calls came in regarding the Global Hope.

Coast Guard Station Gloucester immediately made contact with the captain of the Global Hope, asking if the captain had noticed a position change in his vessel since he last anchored. The captain had a strong accent and sometimes he struggled for the right word in English.

Station Gloucester repeated the question: "We need to verify if you have dragged anchor. Over."

The Global Hope responded: "No, nothing."

"Roger that. We received a report that you did drag anchor. Are you in distress now? Is there any reason you would be in distress?"

"No, up to now, up to now, nothing, ship stay in this position. We are in same position, same position as anchored."

"Keep us informed, skipper, if you drag anchor any more."

"OK, thank you."

From this exchange it seems the Coast Guard doubted the captain's ability to judge whether the Global Hope had dragged anchor or not. Their qualms were well founded.


After Bill Lee left the group to finish a final fueling job, Frank, Curley, Wilkinson, and Fuller paid their bill and headed down to the Can Do docked in the South Channel. Once on the boat Frank called Warren Andrews for the latest news on the Global Hope, then radioed Station Gloucester, informing them that he was dockside and standing by on channels 16 and 12. The Coast Guard men and woman at Station Gloucester all knew Frank and were aware that he could be counted on should they need his services. Several times he had assisted on rescues and also conducted dives for the Coast Guard, often helping draggers free their nets from submerged debris.

The group of men sat around a table in the Can Do's wheelhouse, directly behind the captain's chair and wheel. Visitors to the Can Do's wheelhouse, surrounded with thick aluminum, compared it to a tank with windows. Everything about the boat was solid, prompting one mariner to call it a "fortress," while another described it as a "surface submarine." The Can Do was bobbing next to the dock, but the hissing of the wind was muffled by the thick superstructure and the men could carry on conversations as normal. They monitored the radio and realized the storm was going to be a bad one, with wind gusts approaching hurricane-force. On board the Can Do, the men were quite comfortable. The forty-nine-foot boat originally had been the pleasure yacht of a wealthy family from Rhode Island. Frank had bought the boat because it was built to take a beating with a three-eighths-inch Cor-Ten steel hull and a quarter-inch aluminum pilothouse. Frank modified the boat for his piloting, such as adding a rubber bumper at the tip of the bow and installing fat racing tires on the sides for protection when the Can Do was brought alongside tankers and freighters. In addition, he had installed an array of electronics for communication and guidance: two FM radios, two CB radios, a ship-to-shore AM radio, loran (long-range electronic navigation device) for land coordinates, top-quality radar, and huge searchlights.

The Can Do also had all the luxuries of home. A spiral staircase with a stainless-steel railing and mahogany steps led from the pilothouse forward to the "mates' quarters," which had two bunks, mahogany drawers beneath each bunk, a retractable television, a sink, and a toilet. From these quarters there was access to a storage compartment in the bow where anchorage material was stowed. In the aft section were the captain's quarters and the galley. Four people could sleep in the captain's quarters, which featured a walk-in closet, carpeted floor, mahogany woodwork throughout, large eighteen-by-eight-inch portholes that opened, and a toilet, sink, and shower. A full-size refrigerator, sink, counters, gas range, and stove made up the galley. Amidships, between the captain's and mates' quarters, was the engine room with the power pack radar, compressor for the air horn, battery system, oil burner for the forced hot-water heating system and domestic water, a one-cylinder diesel generator, and the main engine, a Cummings 220-horsepower that turned a large single propeller. A hatch located just steps from where the captain stood in the pilothouse opened to a ladder leading to the engine room.

When Frank piloted the boat, he literally had everything at his fingertips: steering wheel, stainless-steel compass, chrome navigational controls, access to all the radios, drawers for the charts and logbooks, controls for the searchlights, and a long wooden handle suspended from a chain for the whistle. Just aft the captain's controls was the large mahogany table with cushioned benches where the men now sat, shooting the breeze and, like many others in Massachusetts, wondering if this blizzard would be as bad as the one that had struck just three weeks earlier. That storm set a record for snowfall but caused little damage, and seaside communities weathered that blizzard in stride.

About four-thirty Bill Lee finished his last fueling job, anchored his barge, and then checked on his pleasure boat in a slip within a stone's throw of the Can Do before rejoining his friends. The men were relaxing, listening to the marine radio for more information about the Global Hope. There were no further transmissions between the Coast Guard and the ship, however, and they assumed the tanker was holding position and in good shape. They still had no idea just how quickly the storm was turning into a monster. "We knew it was shitty out there," said Lee, "but nobody had any idea how bad it was beyond the breakwater. Frank was talking about maybe going down to Salem so he could have his boat on hand in the morning, knowing a pilot or shipping agent would want to be brought to the Global Hope."

About 5:00 p.m. Lee figured his wife might wonder where he was and headed home. Just after he left, the men still onboard heard a frantic, crackling distress cry on the radio.

"Coast Guard, Coast Guard, this is Global Hope!"

"This is Coast Guard Station Gloucester."

"We are in dangerous place! The water is coming inside into engine."

"Did you say you are taking on water?"

"Water in engine room, engine room! Hull is broken!"

"Did you say the hull is broken and you are taking on water in the engine room?"

"Yes, that's correct."

"We will dispatch a boat with a pump at this time; stand by."

Station Gloucester immediately contacted Boston Search and Rescue, which dispatched the ninety-five-foot cutter Cape George and instructed a much larger cutter, the 210-foot Decisive, to leave its anchorage outside Provincetown, Cape Cod, and speed to Salem. Boston, however, is about twenty-five nautical miles from Salem, and Provincetown is fifty. With sixty-knot winds blowing they might not get to the crippled tanker in time.

Station Gloucester next radioed Warren Andrews at Salem Control, hoping against the odds that there would be a boat in Salem that could aid the Global Hope. Warren said there were no boats available at this time of year.

This was what Station Gloucester feared. With Salem fifteen nautical miles from Gloucester and the storm building by the minute, Station Gloucester was faced with a terrible choice. The only boats at their disposal were two relatively small patrol boats, one a forty-one-footer and the other a forty-four-footer. On the one hand, to send them into the storm, which by then had whipped the ocean's surface into ten-foot seas, was dangerous. On the other hand, there were thirty-two men aboard the Global Hope who were in jeopardy.

Frank had been monitoring the nervous exchanges on the radio and broke in:

"There's nothing we can do at this end, either, at this time, but we will be standing by still dockside at Gloucester. I want you to be aware that as far as I know the ship is about six hundred and eighty feet long and she is light, very light, [most of the cargo off-loaded] and the last I got she is about eleven foot forward and twenty foot aft [below waterline], and whether they ballast [add seawater to designated ballast tanks] it down after that or not I don't know. And it is going to be one great big problem if they do have a problem due to conditions here."

Station Gloucester responded: "Roger that; I think I'm going to get a boat under way, and give him [the Global Hope captain] a call to see how bad he is taking on water."

Frank urged caution: "I would think twice, you know, your discretion, but I would think twice about sending a boat up there tonight. You may get up there, but I don't think you're going to get back to Gloucester the way this is making up here now. If we can be of any help--I don't have any pumps onboard, but if we can be of any help we'll be standing by here."

Frank then made a call to Charlie Bucko, twenty-nine, who had recently left the Coast Guard to take a job repairing boats at the Gloucester Marine Railway. Bucko and Frank were the best of friends, and because of Bucko's Coast Guard training and rescue missions he had plenty of experience in stormy seas. When Frank called him, Bucko was living with his fiancée, Sharon Watts, on Eastern Point Road in Gloucester not far from the Can Do. "We had just finished dinner," says Sharon, "when Frank called. He said there was a tanker in trouble in Salem and he wanted Charlie onboard in case they needed to go down and help. Charlie said he'd be right over. By this time it was snowing really hard and I could hear the winds howling outside. He knew I was concerned, and he said 'Don't worry; it was just as bad during the Chester Poling [another ship that needed rescuing] and I made it back, so I'll make it back from this.' Then he gave me a big hug and said, 'I love you.'"

Bill Lee was also a friend of Charlie's and recalled that when Charlie was a coxswain in the Coast Guard the younger men looked up to him because he was confident, outspoken, and had been decorated for bravery twice while fighting in the Vietnam War. But he also had a soft side, like the time he found an injured seagull. The seagull had a broken wing and Charlie felt sorry for it. Somehow he was able to get his hands around the injured gull and brought it back to Station Gloucester. Then he built a little pen for it out back, and every day Charlie would tend to the gull, feeding it fish and making sure it was OK.

When Bucko reached the Can Do, the situation with the Global Hope had become more confused because communication with the tanker had suddenly ceased, presumably from water shorting out its power. Station Gloucester had no way of knowing if the ship was sinking, breaking apart, or not in any immediate danger. It was ink black outside, with blinding snow, and no one down in Salem could see the Global Hope.

Station Gloucester made the difficult decision to send both patrol boats down to Salem, probably thinking with two boats together one could help the other if they encountered trouble on the way.

Copyright © 2005 by Michael J. Tougias


Continues...

Excerpted from Ten Hours Until Dawn by Tougias, Michael Copyright © 2006 by Tougias, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2010

    Heroism & Tragedy

    With stories of tragedy more than heroism being written about the sea and other maritime voyages, the story of the Frank Quirk and his crewman's sacrifice in a moment which fear would captivate others is compelling without a doubt. With dangerous winds and impossible seas, any man could have stayed at the harbor and kept safe but chose to put their life on the line to help a fellow mariner. The history behind the heroic acts and the tragic outcome is very well documented. Frank Quirk, the captain of the Can Do, volunteers himself to help an oil tanker that is on the brink of being destroyed after the coast guard attempts to help but gets put in just as terrifying of a position as the oil tanker it was attempting to rescue. The actions and consequences eventually lead to an incredible ending.All that being said this book was very hard to read due to the dryness of the story telling, ruining of the plot and the fact that Tougias, the author, rabbit trails off into deep historical moments for only brief seconds in an attempt to add more contextual evidence but only distracts the reader. The dryness of the story telling happens more often than the exciting and more imagery laced parts of the story. Much time is spent describing things and people that do not need to be described and makes it hard to focus on the main story. The plot is immediately ruined at the beginning of the book and the on the front cover. It says "the true story of heroism and tragedy aboard the Can Do". A great majority of the general populous can infer what happens to Frank Quirk and his crew. Those who do miss the not so subtle hint at the outcome will enjoy the book much more being that the ending is a twist in that sense. Tougais also provides an immense amount of information and condenses it so one can read the book in a reasonable amount of time but much of the information provided through-out the book is sporadic and quite unnecessary. It distracts from the story and become interest destroyers. It is far better to leave some information out than kill the reader's interest using a mass amount of information. On the flip side or starboard side; (you know you enjoy the sailing joke) the story has many moments of wonderment and amazement. The story of the heroics is very compelling and because the story isn't dressed up to look better and comes at a purely informational side of journalism, the story really hits home. This is also a very easy reader to those who have never sailed or know much about the nomenclature of sailing. It makes it effortless for those who are interested in the story itself and don't want to spend a solid amount of time looking up terms and equipment.
    This in all reality is a book for other mariners and aspiring mariners to remember and learn about Frank Quirk and his heroism. The general populous will struggle to maintain interest and eventually lose interest in the book because the story will seem so bland due to the descriptions. Never the less, the tragedy of the Can Do must be remembered from generation to generation to inspire the young to do what is right instead of what is safe. If you enjoyed Ten Hours Until Dawn, you'll probably enjoy Michael J. Tougias' other works such as Fatal Forecast and The Finest Hours which will satisfy your maritime fascination. These stories are just as compelling as the story of the Can Do but The Finest Hours is authored by Tougias and Casey Sherman which makes the book a

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2009

    WRONG PERSPECTIVE CHEATED AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE STORY...

    I am a mariner, and frequent maritime rescuer working on a commercial assistance provider in the NJ/NY area. So the book had many parts I could identify with first hand. But not having previously known this story(like most like minded people), the writer should have written it from a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. <BR/><BR/>The author peppered with plenty of narrative wordings that they died while he was telling the struggle, ignoring that 99.9% of the readers outside that geographic area knew what happen. It could have been an incredible thriller, but he gave away the ending way too soon. <BR/><BR/>Obviously he can not change the unfortunate reality that befell these poor guys. But it could have been such a phenominal page turner had he wriiten it differently. Then at the end, BANG!<BR/><BR/>I felt VERY cheated by the author. Like some one watching a great movie, and then some idiot tells you the ending. FRUSTRATING. But still agreat story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2007

    From a Family Member

    Being a family member of Frank Quirk Jr. I can say that this book was outstanding. This book keeps you on the edge you never kno what will happen next. Being a family meber i can say that if Mick Tougias had not written this book the family would have. Everyone today when asked 'Who is your Hero?' they usually say some kind of sprts figure. well Frank Quirk is a true hero. this is a good book that i strongly reccomend. i'm not a reader and i had it read in 1 week.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2007

    a story that has you gasping for breath

    An excellent account of a heros tragedy. Written in a way that makes you feel the anguish and keeps your adrenalin peeked right along with the crews. Left me gasping for air and wishing I could help them! Looking out onto the ocean from these North Shore towns like Salem and Beverly sends me right back into the depths and pages of this story.I highly recommend.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    Charlie Bucko

    Michel Tougias has done a superb job in recreating the events leading up to the tragety on the pilot boat Can Do. I was very fortunatly to be stationed with Charlie Bucko at Pt Allerton station till he got stationed at Gloucester C.G. station. I was not suprised on what Charlie did, he was a very dedicated C.G. personel. He took his job very serious to the very end. I am proud to have served with him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2005

    Compelling Read

    Book is full of history for the coastal area where the Can Do went down. The stories from the crews of the other larger coast guard ships trying to assist were gripping. Cape Ann, not just Gloucester, has a rich history associated with the sea.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2005

    Gripping Account of a New England Tragedy

    Lost in the understandable media frenzy surrounding the 'Blizzard of '78' was the heroic and tragic story of Frank Quirk, and the crew of the Can Do. Thankfully, the author has tirelessly researched the relevant records and interviewed numerous colleagues of the fated crew to finally bring this story to light. A truly compelling and informative read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

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

    As a college student who has not read any novels involving the sea, I was not only drawn in by the writing of Michael Tougias, but also captivated and completely moved at the heroism of Captain Quirk and his crew. This story kept me at the edge of my seat, I would recommend to any audience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2005

    TRUE GLOUCESTER HEROES

    Gloucester is a seaport that has had more than its share of vessels that have left port never to be seen again. Most of the fishing fleet were and still are family owned and operated boats. The attention brought by ¿The Perfect Storm¿ put a shadow over the many people who gave their lives to help others. I am glad that the Can Do and it¿s ill fated crew have been able to have their story told. It is well worth reading for all ages. Thank you Michael for giving us this story. It was so long ago many of us, who lived through it, have pushed it from our memories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2005

    Great read of heroism

    Michael Tougias' writing makes the reader feel that they are right there with the crew of the Can Do. I found myself routing for them even though unfortunately I knew the outcome. The historical information he included regarding the North Shore coast of Massachusetts and the shipwreck stories of the past were very interesting. These stories help to define the peril that the Can Do found itself in. Frank Quirk and his crew were truly heroes and that is something hard to find these days. It's a must read for those of us who love the ocean.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2005

    TEN HOURS UNTIL DAWN----THE BLIZZARD OF '78

    IF YOU ENJOYED 'THE PERFECT STORM', THIS BOOK IS EVEN BETTER. IT IS TOTALLY OUTSTANDING!!!! THE BOOK IS VERY WELL WRITTEN AND DESCRIBES THE PEOPLE INVOLVED, THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE TRAGEDY OF THE M/V CAN DO, WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE BLIZZARD, AND THE AFTERMATH. MR. TOUGIAS HAD TO SPEND AN IMMEASUREABLE AMOUNT OF TIME AND EFFORT INTO THIS BOOK. IT IS A FIRST CLASS PIECE OF WORK DESERVING THE HIGHEST IN LITERARY RECOGNITION. I PERSONALLY SERVED WITH CHARLIE BUCKO, ONE OF THE CREW ON THE CAN DO, AND GAVE HIM MY RECOLLECTIONS OF HIM. IT WAS AT USCG STATION PT. ALLERTON. THIS IS A BOOK EVERYONE SHOULD READ!!!! GREAT JOB MIKE!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

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

    I read alot of books by far this is the most riveting story I have ever read. The author makes you feel you are part of the story, and action. It is a must read for all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    Must Read!

    I have just finished Ten Hours Until Dawn, and it is by far one of the most enjoyable stories I have ever read. Once you begin this book you will not be able to put it down. Author Michael Tougias makes you feel as though you are part of the story. I highly recommend Ten Hours Until Dawn to all audiences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    Thrilling and electrifying

    Michael Tougias' Ten Hours Until Dawn is a true life story of peril at sea during the Blizzard of 1978. Since Sebastian Junger's classic epic, A Perfect Storm, many authors have written similar stories dealing with tragedies at sea. Tougias' book is by far the best such book since Junger's and in many ways is superior to A Perfect Storm. Tougias skillfully balances human drama with technical details in writing about the brave men who attempted to make a rescue at sea during the terrible blizzard. Ten Hours Until Dawn is an incredible tale of heroism and sacrafice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    Riviting Account of Attempted Rescue at Sea

    Having livied in Salem during the Blizzard of 78, I was quite interested in reading 'Ten Hours Until Dawn.' The characterizations are extremely personal and the plot riveting. The author instills drama and intrigue into each part of the book by delving into the background of the characters and related events.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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