Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Serpent's Coil

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$9.95
Paperback
"Please retry"
$0.07

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Released in 1958 and 1961, respectively, these books are Mowat's paean to tugboats of the North Atlantic. Though often overlooked, these vessels have rescued thousands of stranded ships from watery graves. Mowat proves that being a member of a deep-water tug crew is one of the most dangerous jobs a sailor can have during peacetime.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Recognized as a first-rate saga of the sea. -- Montreal Gazette

[This book] merits the attention of those who love and respect the sea. Many of the men with whom it deals have duly earned their place in legend. -- The New York Times
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

China
Engineering & Transportation Books
Discover books for all types of engineers, auto enthusiasts, and much more. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585742872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585742875
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Farley Mowat had already written a book titled "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float," so he could very easily have called this volume, "The Ship Who Wouldn't Sink."
"The Serpent's Coil" is a companion book to "Grey Seas Under" and continues the story of ocean-going salvage tug operations in the Atlantic. "Grey Seas Under" chronicled the adventures of the tugboat `Foundation Franklin' before and during World War II. "The Serpent's Coil" takes place after the war and tells the tale of ships battered by the consuming fury of not one but three hurricanes (the "serpent's coil" of the title) in the autumn of 1948.
The author blends mystery, life-and-death adventure, and humor in his tale of rescue and salvage operations on `the Great Western Ocean.' The mystery centers around the disappearance of so many ex-wartime Liberty freighters in mid-ocean. Most of them were in ballast when they vanished, and it was assumed but never proven that shifting ballast caused the freighters to turn turtle and sink so rapidly that no message could be transmitted on the `how' or `why' of their plight.
`Leicester' was an ex-Liberty freighter fitted out in peace-time rig, newly under the command of Captain Hamish Lawson. He met his ship for the first time while she was taking ballast---"a sludge of sand and gravel dredged from the bottom of the [Thames]"---in preparation for a voyage to New York. Lawson had originally been scheduled to take command of another ex-Liberty freighter (called Sam-ships by the sailors, because they were built for the wartime Lend Lease program by `Uncle Sam'), but the `Samkey' had disappeared on route to Cuba. "'Leicester' was the twin sister to `Samkey'; built in the same yards, to the identical design. The only difference was that she was younger by a year...
Read more ›
Comment 26 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Farley Mowat ,The Dean of the Canadian outdoor Writers, at the top of his form. If you've ever wondered what it was like to work on an Ocean going Tug Boat this is the book for you. Mr. Mowat uses his wartime experience and makes the men and vessels seem to have a life of their own. It's all done in a style that make putting this book down next to impossible. Be sure to have a turtleneck sweater and a steaming mug of Grog available because as you read this account of Maritime Tug's out of Canada you'll be chilled to the bone but kept warm by rapidly turning pages.
Comment 10 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A true accounting of a salvage tug in the North Atlantic. Mowat starts the story with the near sinking of a WW2 Liberty Ship and its abandonment. Salvage tugs struggle to locate the ship and take it in tow.
Clive Custler's Dirk Pitt cannot compare to the finely drawn, sympathetic characters portrayed here.
I have read it twice and it was just as good the second time.
Comment 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
True account of North Atlantic deep sea salvage.Men and equipment routinely battle impossible odds and harrowing conditions to save stricken ships. Reads like fiction.
Comment 6 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
What a story! The ads on the back state this to be the predecessor of the Perfect Storm. I don't think that is the case but the story is great. The Leicester leaves London, and rides out two hurricanes. At the end of the second hurricane-the ballast shifts and the ship takes on a terrible list. The crew rides out the hurricane on her, and then hails two other freighters and abandons ship. The ship then travels on a southerly direction until spotted by a salvage tug. This and another salvage tug take Leicester to Bermuda where she endures another hurricane and is beached with the salvage tug. The last chapter details the salvage of both the ship and tug. This was indeed the ship that wouldn't sink.

This is a nice little story that will keep the reader's interest.

A Perfect Storm is so much more dramatic that I wouldn't rate this book as highly as that. It is an interesting read.
Comment 5 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
i was given this book in 1964 and started reading it at about 9pm and didn`t finish until 5am. i`ve never forgotten it and thought i would see if it was still in print and wow! they are still printing it. (in 2001) i reread it and it is still one of the most exciting books and timeless..both men and women will like it. read it and enjoy, marti
Comment 2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've probably read this book 20+ times since I first met it when I was 12. It never gets old.

It is the kind of macro/micro writing that I think Mowat does spectacularly well, now focused on the story of three ships -- two deep-sea rescue tugs and one Lend-Lease surplus freighter.

A far-from-comprehensive list of things I learned from this book:
* What the legs on oil-drilling platforms are called.
* What kind of ballast you get from the Thames.
* The effect fog used to have on radios.
* What a Carley float is.
* Why you can't just tie up to the ship you're towing.
* How much list 60 degrees is.
* How some hurricanes start.
* What happens when your boiler explodes.
* How big a pump you can move in a dory.
* What it's like to fly a plane into a hurricane.
* How much weather satellites have changes the world.
* What the Great Circle Track is.
* What the Beaufort scale is.

And so much more. I can't get over how meticulous the research on this book is. The bit with the meterologists in Africa. The book that Sparky sets his soldering iron on. The thing is that Sparky (on the Leicester) died in the storm, so someone must have seen his cabin or inventoried his stuff? But it gives the whole book so much texture.

And it's not just the battle to save one ship. I still laugh at the stories of the crewmen, the guy from Come-By-Chance who was planning to take back blackstrap rum and retire forever, or the crew getting "pirate fever" and flitting all over their salvaged boat.

I think the reason this book and its companion are so repeatable for me is that I get dropped into a whole different world, and that world is as richly constructed as any of the most intricate science fiction books I read.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews