Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival

Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival

by Tristram Korten


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“An intense, immersive deep dive into a wild, dangerous, and unknown world, written with the pace and appeal of a great thriller. This is nonfiction at its very best.”—Lee Child

The true story of two doomed ships and a daring search-and-rescue operation that shines a light on the elite Coast Guard swimmers trained for the most dangerous ocean missions

With a new epilogue about a flight on a hurricane hunter

In late September 2015, Hurricane Joaquin swept past the Bahamas and swallowed a pair of cargo vessels in its destructive path: El Faro, a 790-foot American behemoth with a crew of thirty-three, and the Minouche, a 230-foot freighter with a dozen sailors aboard. From the parallel stories of these ships and their final journeys, Tristram Korten weaves a remarkable tale of two veteran sea captains from very different worlds, the harrowing ordeals of their desperate crews, and the Coast Guard’s extraordinary battle against a storm that defied prediction.

When the Coast Guard received word from Captain Renelo Gelera that the Minouche was taking on water on the night of October 1, the servicemen on duty helicoptered through Joaquin to the sinking ship. Rescue swimmer Ben Cournia dropped into the sea—in the middle of a raging tropical cyclone, in the dark—and churned through the monstrous swells, loading survivors into a rescue basket dangling from the helicopter as its pilot struggled against the tempest. With pulsating narrative skill in the tradition of Sebastian Junger and Jon Krakauer, Korten recounts the heroic efforts by Cournia and his fellow guardsmen to haul the Minouche’s crew to safety.

Tragically, things would not go as well for Captain Michael Davidson and El Faro. Despite exhaustive searching by her would-be rescuers, the loss of the vessel became the largest U.S. maritime disaster in decades. As Korten narrates the ships’ fates, with insights drawn from insider access to crew members, Coast Guard teams, and their families, he delivers a moving and propulsive story of men in peril, the international brotherhood of mariners, and the breathtaking power of nature.

Praise for Into the Storm

“The story [Tristram] Korten tells is impressively multifaceted, exploring everything from timely issues such as climate change to timeless themes such as man’s struggle against the ocean’s fury.”Miami New Times

Into the Storm is a triumph of reporting and you-are-there writing that becomes a deeper tale—with more implications about our own lives—with every chapter.”—Robert Kurson, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524797881
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 116,083
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Tristram Korten is a magazine, newspaper, and radio journalist. His print work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including GQ, The Atlantic, and the Miami Herald, and his broadcast reporting has aired on public-radio programs nationally. He is the former editor of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and was a 2013 University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow. A long time ago, he graduated from Colby College. He lives in Miami with his wife, their two daughters, and a mutt named Misha. This is his first book.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Excerpted from "Into the Storm"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Tristram Korten.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Map viii

Chapter l Clearwater 3

Chapter 2 Tropical Depression Eleven 19

Chapter 3 Morning Colors 29

Chapter 4 Port of Jacksonville 44

Chapter 5 The Old Bahama Channel 62

Chapter 6 "We're Going into the Storm" 77

Chapter 7 The Sailor's Dilemma 103

Chapter 8 The Second Eye 125

Chapter 9 "Fly Safe" 140

Chapter 10 Battle Rhythm 153

Chapter 11 Through Surf and Storm and Howling Gale 172

Chapter 12 Climbing the Cloud Deck 189

Chapter 13 "Together, as One Crew" 199

Chapter 14 Port-de-Paix 213

Chapter 15 "I'm Not Leaving You" 221

Chapter 16 Eight Bells 231

Chapter 17 The Master's Judgment 237

Acknowledgments 253

Notes 255

Index 265

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Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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mom2liamax More than 1 year ago
Kept me on the edge of my seat, a definite page turner. Weather events fascinate me, especially water weather events (I love a good thunderstorm), so this story was right up my alley. Both terrifying and heart-breaking, this is a fascinating story that seems well-researched with actual transcribed audio from the event as well. I also love reading about the brave men and women who risk their lives to help others and the Coast Guard played a major role, definitely some nail-biting moments. I know little about the cargo shipping industry and this book educated me on this a bit as well. An overall good, interesting read.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristram Korten is a very highly recommended nonfiction account of two doomed ships and a harrowing Coast Guard search-and-rescue operation. An informative slow paced beginning sets the groundwork for the story. Korten opens up with an introduction to the brave, highly trained members of the Coast Guard on duty who would be pivotal in the search and rescue operations and a description of the two ships and their captains. The true story happened in late September/early October of 2015 when Hurricane Joaquin raged across the Caribbean. A pair of cargo vessels were in the path of this destructive storm. Captain Michael Davidson's ship was the El Faro, a 790-foot American behemoth with a crew of thirty-three, and Captain Renelo Gelera ship was the Minouche, a 230-foot freighter with a dozen sailors aboard. After the ships leave port and the storm develops and subsequently changes course, the pace becomes more frantic. The Coast Guard was informed that the Minouche was taking on water on the night of October 1. They worked in the dark through the raging storm, with rescue swimmer Ben Cournia in the sea loading survivors into the helicopter rescue basket. They manged to save the crew of the Minouche. The rescue mission for the El Faro was not successful and became the largest U.S. maritime disaster in decades. This is an extremely well-researched and well-written account of the events during Hurricane Joaquin and the heroic efforts of the Coast Guard in their search and rescue mission. A tension filled nail biter that is a true life thriller. Into the Storm includes maps, notes, and an index. (Korten's online GQ article about the hurricane includes photos of the men involved and visual information that may be included in the book but wasn't in my review copy.) Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Random House Publishing Group.