Imprint: Pen and Sword Fiction
256 Pages, 6 x 9 in
- May 2014
- Out of print. Available in digital formats at the links below.
The worst hurricane for over a century devastated the south coast of England in 1866, during a period when emergency services were in their infancy.
In the town of Poole, Dorset, the newly-appointed lifeboat was launched twice to aid the numerous stricken ships in the vicinity but unaccountably failed to save many lives. Many sailors were drowned as a result. In an era when gallantry and self-sacrifice were expected, the lifeboatmen were publicly accused of cowardice by the Mayor and local dignitaries.
It is in this atmosphere of suspicion and blame that lifeboat coxswain Richard Stokes finds himself, tasked with overcoming a prevailing sense of pessimism and creating a viable team which will be ready for the next maritime emergency. Achieved by recognizing the weaknesses that lie within both his crew and himself, he endeavors to take the sometimes painful steps to put them right. In this task, he is assisted by the unlikely duo of a retired naval captain and a local rector. In a divided community battered by the rages of the sea, relationships and loyalties are tested in dramatic style.
When an opportunity eventually presents itself for the lifeboatmen to test their mettle, they are prepared to put all plans in action and present a courageous front. In violent seas, they are called to a treacherously unstable wreck with forty-three men trapped on board. Will Richard and his men be able to save all souls on board and redeem past mistakes, or will this be yet another opportunity for the community to blast their efforts and deem their services dangerously insufficient?
This fast paced true story portrays an authentic evocation of nineteenth century Poole on the brink of great change. With the Royal National Lifeboat Service being such a characteristic feature of sea-life around the shores of the United Kingdom, this portrayal of its origin looks set to appeal widely.