Three lone sailors, each pursuing a solitary dream, are swept up in the open ocean by a monster hurricane that confounds all predictions, traveling east instead of west through the Caribbean. Incredibly, even as the eye wall of the storm roars overhead with 150- mile-per-hour winds, the three boats wind up in the same small patch of ocean, and at least two of them catch sight of one other. At the Mercy of the Sea retraces these sailors’ journeys through life and across oceans to find meaning in the improbable intersection of three lives in these terrible hours.
From the Back Cover
A “normal” Caribbean hurricane travels from east to west, but Lenny was anything but normal. Spawned south of Cuba in November 1999, this late-season storm defied all predictions by moving steadily east toward the Leeward Islands. Eventually building almost to Category 5 strength, Lenny squatted for two days between the Virgin Islands and St. Martin, whipping the ocean with 155 mile-per-hour winds and 60-foot seas.
In its path in the Anegada Passage were three sailboats and their unfortunate crews: La Vie en Rose, a 41-foot sloop captained by ex-army lieutenant colonel Carl Wake; English Braids, a tiny 21-foot racer skippered by would-be elite competitive sailor Steve Rigby; and Frederic-Anne, a 65-foot schooner rigged for day-sail charters out of St. Martin and skippered by ambitious young Guillaume Llobregat.
None of the men knew each other, yet they converged by fate in a tiny circle of the sea in the midst of a hellish storm no boat could withstand. And even as he battled for survival, Carl Wake lived the crowning hours of his life.
John Kretschmer’s At the Mercy of the Sea retraces the journeys of these three sailors through life and across oceans. It is a taut, suspenseful re-creation that seeks to make sense of the improbable intersection of three lives at the height of a storm, and a gripping reconstruction of Carl Wake’s search for meaning and, ultimately, for his soul. At the Mercy of the Sea is much more than a chronicle; it is a requiem for a lost friend. John Kretschmer helped Wake choose his boat, accompanied him on his first passage, and advised him on when to sail to the Caribbean. To write the book, Kretschmer interviewed friends, family, and associates of the sailors, obtained transcripts of their radio calls during the storm, and analyzed the hurricane with the help of the National Hurricane Center. He draws on his own vast sea experience to take us into the heart of a hurricane in a small, frail boat, and to show us how Carl Wake redeemed his life with his final heroic act.
HB 223 pages