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Grey Seas Under by Farley Mowat

Grey Seas Under (1958)

by Farley Mowat

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216581,750 (3.89)12



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Tugboats are the dearest little vessels. They are also resilient and intrepid, enduring conditions that would force many larger vessels to turn tail and heave to. Grey Seas Under is the story of one particular tug, the Foundation Franklin (originally known as H.M.S. Frisky), and the many daring rescue missions conducted by the crew as part of salvage operations in the North Atlantic.

Mowat conjures up the ice forming on the rigging, the winds making up to hurricane strength, the waves smashing across the main deck. The ships are lively, imbued with their own personalities, and the crew themselves are almost mythical in their strength and determination. I found this book endlessly fascinating, often funny, and sometimes sad. (Someone was cutting an onion nearby when I read the last chapter…) I particularly enjoyed the story of the ship that had the sheep roaming around on deck, and the story of the Dimitrios Englessis had me nearly gnashing my teeth to bits at how frustrating the rescue must have been for the crew of the Franklin.

The only bone I really have to pick with this book is that it reduces the Franklin’s exploits to its time in the north Atlantic during the Second World War. However, the book covers the ship’s entire life as the Franklin, from the first skipper’s rescuing it from the shipyard in Hamburg to the sad day when it was finally decommissioned. You’ll get so much more than you bargained for this one. It’s well worth picking up. ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | May 16, 2018 |
Read this book years ago. Farley Mowat does a wonderful job of portraying the maritime life of a sea-going salvage tug. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is the story of a Canada-based salvage ship that must have saved hundreds of ships in her lifetime. The Foundation Franklin is very much a character, and her story and that of the insanely brave men who worked her is thrilling. You get a real sense of how astonishingly dangerous the North Atlantic is - and was, during WWII. Mowat's prose isn't his best - there's too much "on March 1, this ship did this, then on March 10, Franklin did that, and on March 15..." You get the picture. But the story of the ship shines through - I think any fan of O'Brien, Forester, or Kipling's Captains Courageous would greatly enjoy this book. ( )
  4hounds | Sep 19, 2011 |
This book is a history of the salvage ship Foundation Franklin, which worked the North Atlantic during the 1930s and 1940s. Although it is an interesting story, the book suffers from a lack of focus (other than the ship, which is difficult to sympathize with). No one character or event seems more important than the others. Many parts of the book read like barely-edited entries from the ship's log. ( )
  Pferdina | Apr 4, 2009 |
A superb book of danger and courage on the high seas. One of the few books about salvage tugs. The tug Foundation Franklin was an important part of Newfoundland and Maritime Canadian History. ( )
  rexton | May 31, 2006 |
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For the stanch little ships and the great-hearted men who struggle with the Western Ocean so that other ships and other men may live.
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This book is the outcome of two of my happiest of all my years.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553241559, Mass Market Paperback)

One of the great storytellers of our century writes passionately of the courage of men and of a small, ocean-going salvage tug, Foundation Franklin.  The captain and the crew were mostly Newfounders; the sea was in their blood.  Battered by towering waves, dwarfed by the ships she towed, blasted by gale-force winds and frozen by squalls of snow and rain, the stout ship and her brave crew saved hundreds of vessels and thousands of lives as they battled their ancient enemy, the North Atlantic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:56 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In Grey Seas Under, Farley Mowat writes passionately of the courage of men and of a small, ocean-going salvage tug, Foundation Franklin. From 1930 until her final voyage in 1948, the stalwart tug's dangerous mission was to rescue sinking ships, first searching for them in perilous waters and then bringing them back to shore. Battered by towering waves, dwarfed by the great ships she towed, blasted by gale-force winds and frozen by squalls of snow and rain, Foundation Franklin and her brave crew saved hundreds of vessels and thousands of lives as they patrolled the North Atlantic, including waters patrolled by U-boats in wartime. Mowat spent two years gathering this material and sailed on some of the missions he describes. The result is a modern epic -- a vigorous, dramatic picture of the eternal battle between men and the cruel sea.… (more)

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