A true-life drama of an intense battle for survival on the high seas.
The Luckiest Thirteen is the story of an incredible two-day battle to save the super trawler St Finbarr, and of those who tried to rescue her heroic crew in surging, frozen seas. It was also a backdrop for the powerful stories of families ashore, dumbstruck by fear and grief, as well as a love story of a teenage deckhand and his girl that ended with a heart-rending twist.
From her hi-tech hold to her modern wheelhouse she was every inch the super ship the great hope for the future built to save the fleet at a record-breaking price but a heart-breaking cost. On the thirteenth trip after her maiden voyage, the St Finbarr met with catastrophe off the Newfoundland coast. On Christmas Day 1966, twenty-five families in the northern English fishing port of Hull were thrown into a dreadful suspense not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive after the disaster that befell The Perfect Trawler.
I’m privileged today to be taking part in the blog tour for this amazing book, The Luckiest Thirteen, by Brian Lavery, which tells the true-life story of the crew of the super trawler St Finbarr and their battle for survival against incredible odds. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour for this book, and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
We don’t really think about it, do we? The danger that some people put themselves in, in order to provide certain things for the rest of us. We take these things for granted – fossil fuels, electricity, fish, security – without thinking about the terrible conditions and dangers that other people have to endure in order to provide them for us.
I have given it some thought over the past couple of years. Around this time last year I read a short story called Safety Tips for Living Alone, about the collapse of a manned surveillance tower off the American coast which is based on true events. The Irishman introduced me to a TV show called ‘The Deadliest Catch’ which follows trawler men from Alaska fishing for King crab in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. i’m sure most of you will have seen the movie, ‘The Perfect Storm.’ Well, you can add this book to the list of things which will open your eyes to what human beings endure to bring goods to us that the rest of us take for granted.
This is the forgotten story of an event which happened on Christmas Day in 1966 when the super trawler St Finbarr caught fire whilst out in a remote part of the ocean in a terrible storm. Because this happened at Christmas at a time when communication was not available 24/7 all year round, the families of the men on the ship had to wait anxiously for news for three days and the rest of the world barely got to hear about it at all. The author of this book has tried to remedy this by bringing the tragic story to people’s minds by way of this book.
It may not sound like the kind of thing you would normally like to read, it certainly isn’t my standard reading fodder, but this is the beauty of blogging for me and a joy I want to share with you – reading outside of your comfort zone and, as a result, discovering amazing stories that would have just passed you by otherwise. This is one such book, and I am so glad I read it.
The author really brings to life the reality of life for these men on the inhospitable waters, separated from their families at the worst time of year while the rest of us are cosied up together celebrating Christmas, battling elements that most of us would not walk outside in, never mind take to the waves. They were away for months at a time, with limited communication with their families back home and working in conditions that were by no means as safe as they are today. What really struck me, as a lawyer who worked for one of the biggest personal injury firms in the UK, was the end of the book and the outcome of the enquiry into the disaster. In today’s climate, there is no way that people would not have been held to account for what happened.
I’m not going to lie to you, this book contains a lot of technical detail about boats and engines that wasn’t very interesting to me as I mostly didn’t understand it. At the beginning, there is also a degree of historical detail about some of the people that seemed a little irrelevant to the story and slowed the pace of the start. I urge you to push past this because, once you do, the author really brings to life the human story behind this tragedy and it is more gripping than any thriller novel you will pick up, the truth of it giving it extra poignancy. This is what people endured, and it deserves to be heard and remembered.
So, push yourself out of your reading safe place, pick up something different. take a plunge into the extraordinary lives and risks of a community I bet your barely give a second’s thought to. Think about the sacrifices they make to bring you something you take for granted and appreciate what you have in life. This book will open your eyes a little, which can never be a bad thing. I’ll certainly be complaining less about my cushy circumstances, having read it, I’m very lucky.
The Luckiest Thirteen is available now by following this link.
To follow the rest of the tour and get some further reviews of this book, please visit the blogs listed on the poster below:
About the Author
Brian W. Lavery is a former national newsman, whose tales deliver true journalistic flair. Born in Glasgow, long resident in Hull, he writes with a deep knowledge of the community and the dangers faced by those working in extremes. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Hull.
Connect with Brian: