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The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue…
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The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue Mission of a N.A. Salvage Tug (original 1958; edition 2001)

by Farley Mowat

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288791,331 (3.81)22
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)
Member:omnimancer
Title:The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue Mission of a N.A. Salvage Tug
Authors:Farley Mowat
Info:The Lyons Press (2001), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 360 pages
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Grey Seas Under by Farley Mowat (1958)

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The stories told herein are of great heroics and brave men. Regrettably, they are told in a dry and uninspiring way that wasn't particularly thrilling to read. ( )
  bastibe | Apr 15, 2023 |
Interesting, but not a favorite. Half about the actual rescues which were often fascinating, half about the politics and economics and stupid decisions that limited Franklin's ability to get on with the rescues. A very interesting viewpoint on the Great Depression and WWII, from the Canadian Maritimes - not an angle I'd ever thought of before. But stupid decisions seemed to be the theme throughout - there were a few amusing bits where someone or someones got their comeuppance when a stupid decision came back to roost, but mostly the stupid decisions hurt other people and the decision-makers just kept on going (and deciding). The usual Mowat style - you could feel the hard-driven spray and the ice on the deck and the fug below, and share the frustration and triumph of the various salvors. But it's an oddly omniscient view - the author is almost invisible, there are a very few lines of "eager to tell their stories" or "bitter, as they had reason to be" that hinted at his researches. Other than that, it's a retelling of events without sources, as if the author was there throughout her career. And a sad ending, though with a triumph just before - of survival, if nothing else. I'm glad I read it, but I don't particularly want to read it again. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Sep 11, 2019 |
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 the blurb 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 |
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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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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.

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