Shipwreck! What does that word conjure in your mind? Adventure, mystery, cold dark places, treasure, risk, betrayal, intrigue? All of it is delivered generously in this book.
A cast of fourteen Atlantic shipwrecks are the backdrop of epic non-fiction tales, wrecks that include Le Magnifique, killer submarine U-853, MV Regal Sword, and SS Stephano.
Some of these wrecks lie a scary and life-threatening 230 feet underwater and to locate them, the authors obtained leads from trawler fishermen (and women, of course) who record “hangs,” locations where their nets have snagged on something big and were thus lost. These “hang logs,” combined with ship logs and intimate knowledge of currents and tides, are an important source for tracking down missing ships.
The book recalls the advances in deep-water diving over the decades, and innovations like mixed gas in the tanks that permit deep descents. Other hazards include sharks, ship passageways, fishing nets, currents, and poor visibility. Even under the best of conditions, in many instances, divers are limited to 20 minutes of bottom time before they slowly head back to the surface.
The book’s narrative is interspersed with what seem like first-hand accounts, which bring the reader into the moment, as if we were right there, perhaps in the boiler room, on the bridge, piloting busy shipping lanes on a steel behemoth at a crazy 13 knots in blinding fog! This is a very effective literary style.
You’re in good hands with these capable narrators of adventure. Eric Takakijan served four years active duty in the US Coast Guard, then seven more in the reserves. He’s captained numerous ocean tugs up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and he and his co-captain/diving companion wife, Lori, have owned several large dive boats that they charter to adventurers in the search of lost ships. Randall Peffer holds a 100-ton masters license and has logged over 100,000 miles at sea. He the author of nine nonfiction books as well as nine crime/suspense novels.
This book was difficult to put down as I was always wondering, “What next?” Honest suspense occurs frequently and throughout the book, the author recounts several important long-term friendships that revolve around searching for shipwrecks.
If well written true stories of adventure, mystery, cold dark places, treasure, risk, betrayal, and intrigue interest you, I recommend Dangerous Shallows.
Dangerous Shallows: in search of the ghost ships of Cape Cod, by Eric Takakijan and Randall Peffer (Lyons Press, 2020; 256 pages)