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The Perfect Storm: The Story of the Andrea Gail

June 3, 2008

Storm Inspired Author to Pen Maritime Book

GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- Writer Sebastian Junger knew little about the sea's power before Oct. 31, 1991.

But an ocean gale that hit Cape Ann on that date six years ago left an indelible impression on him as he stood beside other residents on the Back Shore and watched the storm's destructive force.

That experience contained the seeds that have since grown into his first book, published this spring and entitled "The Perfect Storm."

"The streets were awash and 30-foot waves were slamming into the Back Shore ... I'd never seen anything that powerful," Junger told 100 people who gathered Thursday night at The Bookstore on Main Street to hear him read from his work. It was the first stop of a nationwide promotional tour for "The Perfect Storm."

The so-called "no-name northeaster" in October 1991 not only battered the North Shore, but also sank the Gloucester swordfish boat Andrea Gail, with six hands lost at sea. As his non-fiction manuscript evolved, Junger decided to make the doomed vessel the centerpiece of his tale.

Skipper Billy Tyne, and crewmen Bobby Shatford, David Sullivan, Dale Murphy, Alfred Pierre and Michael Murphy died when the 70-foot steel boat sank in the gale hundreds of miles off Cape Ann.

Junger spent more than two years doing exhaustive research and writing about the sinking and the huge storm.

That was time well spent, according to local fishermen, sailors, authors and even land-bound folks, all impressed by the insight and drama contained in Junger's book.

"You did such an incredible job of capturing what it's like to be in such huge seas," marine researcher Mason Weinrich told Junger at last night's gathering.

Ann Nichols, who's sailed all over the world in the past 25 years, said the documentary left her "shaken," because it brought back memories of her own experiences during ocean storms.

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The Perfect Storm: The Story of the Andrea Gail