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A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival and an Incredib [Kindle Edition]

Michael J. Tougias
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

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Book Description


Seventy-foot waves batter a torn life raft 250 miles out to sea in one of the world’s most dangerous places, the Gulf Stream. Hanging on to the raft are three men, a Canadian, a Brit, and their captain, JP de Lutz, a dual citizen of America and France. Their capsized forty-seven-foot sailboat has filled with water and disappeared below the tempestuous sea. The giant waves repeatedly toss the men out of their tiny vessel, and JP, with nine broken ribs, is hypothermic and on the verge of death. The captain, however, is a remarkably tough character, having survived a brutal boyhood, and now he must rely on the same inner strength to outlast the storm.

Trying to reach these survivors before it’s too late are four brave Coast Guardsmen battling hurricane- force winds in their Jayhawk helicopter. They know the waves will be extreme, but when they arrive they are astounded to find that the monstrous seas have waves reaching eighty feet. Lowering the wind-whipped helicopter to drop a rescue swimmer into such chaos will be extremely dangerous. The pilots wonder if they have a realistic chance of saving the sailors clinging to the broken life raft, and if they will be able to even retrieve their own rescue swimmer from the towering seas. Once they commit to the rescue, they find themselves in almost as much trouble as the survivors, facing one life-and-death moment after the next.

Also caught in the storm are three other boats, each one in a Mayday situation. Of the ten people on these boats, only six will ever see land again.

Spellbinding, harrowing, and meticulously researched, A Storm Too Soon is a vivid account about the powerful collision between the forces of nature and the human will to survive. Author Michael J. Tougias, known for his fast-paced writing style and character-driven stories, tells this true saga in the present tense to give the reader a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat immediacy. A Storm Too Soon is Tougias at his masterful best and a heart-pounding narrative of survival, the power of the human spirit, and one of the most incredible rescues ever attempted.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It was supposed to be a straightforward Atlantic crossing: three men in a sailboat, well ahead of the bad-weather season, sailing from Florida to Saint-Tropez, France. But sometimes the weather does something unpredictable, and about 250 miles from the nearest land, in the treacherous Gulf Stream, the three men were attacked by a fierce storm. Their boat, the Sean Seamour II, capsized and sank. They had only a damaged life raft to keep them alive while they waited for rescue (a rescue that might never come, as they weren’t sure their distress beacon had worked). Unlike, say, Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm (1997), this isn’t a creative retelling of an incident in which there were no survivors. The three-man crew of the Sean Seamour II survived the ordeal, and the book is based on their memories. It’s a story of heroism, for sure (the captain, despite being seriously injured and near death, kept his two shipmates alive), but also of sheer terror. Cast adrift in the angry seas, the men seemed to have little chance of survival. And, if it hadn’t been for a rescue effort that carried its own share of life-threatening risks, they would not have. Readers of true-life adventures, especially those involving disaster and rescue at sea, should find this one very much to their liking. --David Pitt


“The riveting, meticulously researched “A Storm Too Soon” tells the true-life tale of an incredible rescue” (New York Post)

"A heart-pounding account of the storm that tore apart a 45-foot sailboat." -The Boston Globe

"Tougias spins a marvelous and terrifying yarn....this is a breathtaking book." -- Los Angeles Times

"A suspenseful, tautly rendered story that leaves readers breathless but well-satisfied." (Kirkus)

“A magnificent culmination of what-ifs with such detail as to inspire reverence for the human spirit. Tougias’ use of present tense is ingenious, this is an armchair riptide of the reading experience.” (South Coast Magazine)

"Michael Tougias has done it again, this time delivering an edge-of-your-seat chronicle of what happens when a sailboat goes up against a fierce storm in the heart of the Gulf Stream." (The Providence Journal)

“It’s a story of heroism, for sure (the captain, despite being seriously injured and near death, kept his two shipmates alive), but also of sheer terror. Cast adrift in the angry seas, the men seemed to have little chance of survival. Readers of true-life adventures, especially those involving disaster and rescue at sea, should find this one very much to their liking.” (Booklist)

“Few American authors—if any—can better evoke the realities that underlie a term such as ‘desperate rescue attempt.’” (Fall River Herald)

"Deserves a place as a classic survival at sea." (The Boston Globe)

"This book captures the wit, grit and sacrifice of Coasties and their boats." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A compelling tale of man versus nature” (Yachts Magazine)

“To read this book is to become a believer in the unbelievable. Few stories are as harrowing.” (Oregon Coast Weekend)

“Tougias tells the story in the present tense, giving the story a gut-wringing immediacy that makes the book hard to put down.” (Metrowest Daily)

"The Finest Hours is a touching account, a sensitive rendering of what might be called four indescribably chaotic conditions...Tougias and Sherman never sensationalize, never go beyond the facts, and yet capture all the pain, physical and emotional, of the survivors and their families." -- Providence Journal

"Tougias deftly switches from heart-pounding details of the rescue to the personal stories of the boat’s crew and those of the rescue team. The result is a well-researched and suspenseful read." (Publisher's Weekly)

Product Details

  • File Size: 4804 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K5EPJS
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,125 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
As one the miraculously rescued victims torn in-extremis from the wrath of un-forecasted, post-named ST Storm Andrea, I have hesitated to provide my so obviously biased opinion of the book. Commander Nevada Smith who led his HH-60 helicopter crew into this unforeseen maelstrom has opened the path.
It is five going on six years since a series of miracles enabled us to relate our ordeal.
Not the least of these miracles was the engagement in a totally unforeseen situation of this United States Coast Guard crew, four men who went beyond the call of duty to accomplish one of the most daring USCG rescues. The honors bestowed to them from two countries understate their feat, their commitment.
Michael Tougias' A Storm Too Soon captures this story in as gripping a fashion as the hurricane had captured us (we measured over 85 knots before stepping up to a life-raft already in a mangled half destroyed state as my s/v Sean Seamour II slipped below seventy foot waves).
Having read most of his books, bias aside this one is particularly riveting.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular accomplishment by Mike Tougias! January 19, 2013
Greay job by Mike Tougias. I stood duty for 13 years as a USCG H60 Search and Rescue pilot but only enountered these conditions once on the morning of 7 May 2007. Nothing else came close to 80 knot winds and 70 foot waves. A must-read for any sailor or armchair adventurer. From the raft to the helicopter to the stress-filled homes of the families, Mr. Tougias takes you there with layers of detail.


Nevada Smith, H60 pilot
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Michael Touglias! January 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Michael Touglias once again writes a book that cannot be put down. I am always disapointed when each one is over only because it is over. Great book!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous people doing the near impossible April 9, 2013
The rescue story evolves around the life and death decisions and actions of the naval aviators and two Petty Officers in the helo and the sailors in the water who took calculated risks to pull it all off. Hats off to these cool-headed Coast Guard naval aviators CDR Smith and LT Nelson who flew to the edge of everything to pull these sailors out of the water....the book very well describes the emotional roller coaster the rescuers were going through including Petty Officer Higgins coolheaded actions between the pilots, rescuer and survivors. I just can't imagine Petty Officer Dazzo free-falling into that written in the book, I was wanting him to "please don't let go!" The compelling story of the rescued sailors who had little chance of surviving from the git-go, is gripping reading. The book is very good at painting a complete picture of the Coast Guard actions in the helo & C-130, command and control decisions ashore, aboard ships as well as in the homes of the rescuers and rescued. And all of it is so well written that each story line becomes a page turner that you are pulled into from start to finish.
The book references a You Tube video "A storm Too Soon". There are actually three related videos at the site. Be sure to watch them will have a very good appreciation of what it is like to look "up" at an approaching wave from a helo cockpit.
Marty Morgen, Chesapeake, Va
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A griping true story January 17, 2013
I felt wet, cold and frightened to end. Could not put it down. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who risk life and limb to help others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A storm too soon. February 9, 2013
By nancy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good story. Very well written. Exciting. Hard to put down. I would recommend it to anyone .Well Worth reading it.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping but flawed November 3, 2013
This is a gripping story, but unfortunately the credibility of the author is marred by the fact that he clearly has little or no knowledge about sailboats. He creates his narrative out of extensive interviews, but without understanding all of what he writes. For example, he talks of boats that have a single mast running "with bare poles" (plural) and of an anchor chain weighing more when deployed, which is of course impossible. (It actually weighs less when submerged.) He describes the mast as sitting on a "keel support grid"; it is actually a deck (cabin top) stepped mast supported by a steel pole between the cabin and the keel. He talks of water shorting out "emergency power batteries", but the Beneteau 44 and most similar boats don't have "emergency" batteries; they have a house battery and a starter battery hooked up all the time. Then the Captain "hears the autopilot gears" and hears it "overcompensating". The B-44 has hydraulic steering, not gears or cables. There are numerous other examples in the book. Other unrelated errors include the book flap referring to a 47 foot boat while the book says it is 44 (the correct figure, since Beneteau only makes 40 and 44 foot center cockpit boats) and a crew member on a C-130 as a Flight Mechanic, when in fact it's a Flight Engineer. Had the publisher's editor or proof reader had any knowledge, these things could have been corrected.

Touglas is a good writer, and these things may seem picky, but books like this are primarily read by experienced sailors, not the general public, so they matter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspence all the way!!!!!! April 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hard to put down.....The Coast Guard people are unbelieveable and deserve high praises for saving all those lives........Great Read recommend reading........
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars No sleep for me
This book is riveting & kept me up all night reading! It was a good find for me as I was the delivery skipper of a 39' sailboat bound from Ft Lauderdale , FL to Newport, RI at the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by windgypsy
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner for Tougias!
I am a huge fan of non-fiction tales of rescue, derring-do, and adventure. This one is at the top of the pile, as far as my expectations of what is promised goes. Michael J. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ann I Crawley
5.0 out of 5 stars A storm at sea, which is where not to be.
This author has told us everything we want to know about this trip, and perhaps a little more. The reader gets the total idea of what these brave sailors had to go through, which... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jacqueline Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not a bad read.
Published 5 months ago by Ronald Simons
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved this book! could not put it down. Strongly recommend it!
Published 5 months ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very exciting, gripping story well told with lots of background information making the story complete.
Published 5 months ago by Billy Bob
4.0 out of 5 stars Good one.
If you like a clear account of specific storms and rescue at sea, this is a good on.
Published 5 months ago by Ed Sanden
4.0 out of 5 stars But a good book because of the lessons any blue water sailor ...
If you're already a sailor it goes a little too in-depth into its descriptions of things. But a good book because of the lessons any blue water sailor can take away from it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ryan Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it. Scary!
Awesome book
Published 6 months ago by K. Carling
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!!
This was a most amazing book!! I was on the edge of my seat and could not put it down!! Thank you Michael Tougias for letting people know the incredible job the Coasties do!!! Read more
Published 6 months ago by Janice c barba
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More About the Author

I write on a variety of topics which could roughly be grouped as follows:
TRUE LIFE MARITIME SUVIVAL STORIES: my books include "Overboard!", "Ten Hours Until Dawn", "The Finest Hours" (co-author) and "Fatal Forecast"

HISTORY: "King Philip's War" (co-author), "Quabbin", "The Blizzard of 78"

RIVER BOOKS: "Exporing the Hidden Charles", "River Days: Exploring the Connecticut River from Source to Sea"

HUMOR AND THE OUTDOORS: "There's a Porcupine in My Outhouse: The Vermont Misadventures of a Mountainman Wannabe"

I'm not sure what I'll do next. But I'll follow my intuition. And, of course, the topic has to be something I feel passionate about. Thank you for all your support! Michael Tougias

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