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BROKEN SEAS

This is exciting narrative storytelling, with photos, diagrams, and maps that will catapult you into real-life adventure and survival.

 

Real-life adventure and survival.  

--- The mighty ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald steams desperately on its last crossing of Lake Superior -- only to sink so rapidly no one had time to cry out for help.


--- Divers on the bottom discovering a strange shipwreck -- a ghostly relic. What is onboard?


--- A tiny plywood boat struggles at its first crossing of the world's largest ocean


--- A leaking skiff with an old man in an ice storm searches for his lost partner


--- A home-built sailboat facing "The Storm of the Century"


--- An extreme sailor facing the North Atlantic in his new boat to qualify for the world's toughest sailboat race, the Vendee Globe.

 

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"As in his previous books, like Wake of The Green Storm, Marlin Bree conveys a lasting impression of the sea as the principal actor in this frightening series of deadly sea dramas.

 

In Broken Seas, his current, gripping book, the sea and its accomplices, wind and temperature, have the power of a Greek drama thundering across a stage. Bree sets that stage for each of the book's six factual stories with a concise and perceptive personal Prologue.

 

For example, with the account of 62-year old Helmer Aakvik's daring attempt to rescue a young fisherman during an ice storm on the NW sector of Lake Superior, titled, 'The Old Man and The Inland Sea,' the author writes, 'I stared out into the menacing world of broken sea and sky. It was hard to imagine a man in a small, open boat setting out from here during an oncoming November ice storm. The rescuer... had fished these waters for many years and he knew what to expect. He went anyway.'

 

The same can be said for Bree. Faced with the daunting task of collecting, organizing and analyzing a myriad of records, interviews and theories, he went anyway --- and readers of Broken Seas will be grateful he did." -- review posted online.

At about 19:15, the Fitzgerald suddenly plunged toward the bottom 530 feet down, carrying all crew members with her. She remains intact going down, but when her bow stikes, the 729-foot vessel's cargo shifts and the hull breaks apart under the impact.(From Broken Seas: Illustration by Marlin Bree)

Hitting the bottom, the 253-foot aft section turns over, lying bottom side up. The 276-foot forward section sits upright,a s if ready to sail on. In between lies a junkyard. All of the crew perished in her fatal plunge. (From Broken Seas: Illustration by Marlin Bree)

"It is no accident that our history books are filled with adventures of the sea. Sailors and non-sailors alike are captivated by nautical stories. Marlin Bree's new book, Broken Seas, explains in gripping detail tales from both the Great Lakes and the ocean. When reading this book, you will feel like you are on board during some of the harshest calamities in recently history."
--Gary Jobson, internationally known sailor, author, TV America's Cup commentator and racing analyst

The lost schooner Alvin Clark floats on her own lines after being underwater for more than 100 years --- the most exciting, oldest, and most significant recovered shipwreck in North America. Read an excerpt at left.

Broken Seas now has won seven awards, including from the hotly competitive Boating Writer's International award competition. A five-part excerpt, The Passion of Mike Plant, in Northern Breezes sailing magazine won a Certificate of Merit; an excerpt from The Old Man & the Inland Sea in Ensign magazine won a First Place Award; and the excerpt, The Day All Hell Broke Loose,in Ensign magazine won a Third Place award. This article went on to win the 2004 Grand Prize in Boating Writer's International writing contest -- the highest award BWI can bestow upon a boating writer. In 2007, the Ensign magazine article (excerpted from the Broken Seas chapter of the same name), entitled, The Old Man and the Inland Sea, won a First Place writing award in competition with other boating journalists. After judging the finalists in the competition, the judges presented the author BWI's Grand Prize in 2008. This means that the most coveted award in marine journalism, the Grand Prize of Boating Writers Internatonal was awarded to Marlin Bree for his magazine excerpts from Broken Seas. In 2010, two more awards were given to the author for The Old Man and the Inland Seas, which appeared in Lake Superior Magazine. One Bronze award in the General Feature category was from International Regional Magazine Association, presented in Branson, MO; the second award was from the Minnesota Magazine and Publishing Assocaiton, a bronze award in the Best Feature category, again for the Lake Superior Magazine article.

"A literary rescue mission", says reviewer and ex-West Coast newsman Dennis Renault. Writes Renault: " In his most recent book, Broken Seas, Marlin Bree has obviously devoted years to thoughtful and exhaustive research into the facts surrounding the fates of six extraordinary ships and crewmen on the High Seas. These include the appalling story of the final resting place of the 1896 schooner Alvin Clark, the mysterious and sudden sinking of the "indestructive" steel-hulled Great Lakes ore ship, Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975; and the gritty courage of Norwegian immigrant Helmer Aakvik, who attempts to rescue a fellow fisherman from the maw of a Lake Superior ice storm in 1958. With Broken Seas, Bree's fifth book of nautical adventures, the author has produced a literary rescue mission that will undoubtedly save many readers from drowning in the heavy waves of holiday hoopla or from nodding off to sleep in front of their TV's."

 

"Makes true sailing adventures live again," says The Ensign, the official magazine of the United States Power Squadrons, in its November issue. Reviewing Broken Seas, Stf/C Don Dunlap Jr., SN, continues: "In his latest book, (the author) shares seven stories that had me reading ahead...He first describes a 10-foot sailboat's Pacific Ocean crossing. Then he tells of a man who risks everything to save a young friend from Lake Superior's frozen waters. "The Lost Schooner" relates the heart rending tale of the Alvin Clark, which sank during the Civil War. The ship was perfectly preserved by Lake Michigan's cold waters when divers found it. Bree helps us relive its sad end as well as the final journey of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Besides recounting his own adventure on Lake Superior, Bree reconstructs the ill-fated crusie of Mike Plant's vessel Coyote. With each story, we feel the excitement of the cruise and the terror of the final moment when all might be lost. Broken Seas is a super read for those of us who dream of adventure on the sometimes cruel sea."

 

"Mucho Adventure," writes Small Craft Advisor editor Joshua Colvin about the author's new book Broken Seas: "..some of the true tales in his latest volume had me sitting up wide-eyed, well past my dreamland deadline. In 216 pages, Bree manages to take the reader aboard all kinds of vessels, often in the worst conditions imaginable. Whether he's writing about Gerry Spiess' 10-footer Yankee Girl knocked flat in in the middle of the Pacific, or the storm driven destruction of the 729-foot Edmund Fitzgerald, Bree rarely lets his reader up for breath. If you enjoy this sort of thing--and who doesn't--you'll want to add Bree's new book to your library. Just don't plan to catch up on any sleep."

 


Stands right up there with the best, says library review journal KLIATT: "There is nothing like a collection of crackling good adventures at sea to pique the interest of most readers. This assembly of true seafaring adventures stands right up there with the best. For one thing, author Marlin Bree does not simply tell a good tale: he recapitulates itl. In each of the six cases, he begins by setting up the siutation with a prologue, then presents a narrative of the vessel's final voyage, and finishes with a section with his own conjectures in which he describes his visits with the survivors. When there are none, and the boat did not survive, he speculates intelligently about what really must have happened 'out there.' A line drawing of each craft helps the reader visualize the technical side of each tale.

 

"The author has done his homework, reading the charts, studying the blueprints, and putting himself into the middle of each adventure. He scouted out witnesses and sailors who had once sailed aboard the doomed vessels, and on occasion visited the graves. The action runs from the mid-Atlantic to the Great Lakes, and readers find themselves struggling in a rowboat in icy water, pounding across the ocean in the world's fastest racing yacht, or being pounded to pieces in a winter gle. There is even the chance to explore what must be every romantic's fondest dream -- a completely intact and untouched wooden ship, upright on the bottom with her masts still standing. Adventuring, and reading about it, gets no better than that."
--A review about Broken Seas by Raymond Puffer, PhD, Historian, Edwards AFB, Lancaster, CA, in KLIATT, July, 2005.

WICKEDLY GOOD PRAISE FOR BROKEN SEAS  

"With winter coming on and snow gracing the scenery, it is a good time to curl up with a book jammed full of excitement, historic fact and local lore. The fear, excitement, anticipation, and the unexpected leap out of the pages to bring boating adventures into your life." --Kathy Johnson, Press Publications.


"Marlin Bree's new book Broken Seas will crank up your adrenaline and jump-start your pulse. Bree's prose puts you right in the middle of these extraordinary true adventures. From crossing the Pacific in a 10-footer to braving a November blow on Lake Superior, this book will leave you with spray on your face, wind in your hair and an insatiable itching to get out on the water. Don't miss it."
--Yvonne Hill, Editor of The Ensign magazine

 

"In Broken Seas, veteran journalist and seasoned sailor Marlin Bree has crafted a series of stories that prove the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. A remarkable collection of well-told tales."
--Herb McCormick, Editor of Cruising World and Boating Editor of The New York Times

 

"It is no accident that our history books are filled with adventures of the sea. Sailors and non-sailors alike are captivated by nautical stories. Marlin Bree's new book, Broken Seas, explains in gripping detail tales from both the Great Lakes and the ocean. When reading this book, you will feel like you are on board during some of the harshest calamities in recently history."
--Gary Jobson, internationally known sailor, author, TV America's Cup commentator and racing analyst

 

"Broken Seas is a pleasure to read. The seafaring adventures are well researched, the characters and their struggles come to life, and best of all...their roots are from the freshwater byways."
--Capt. Thom Burns, Editor of Northern Breezes

 

"Marlin Bree's first-hand knowledge of monster waves and survival has enabled him to vividly and acurately describe six true adventures in Broken Seas. This book details triumph and tragedy and is a must-read for sailors, and even landlubbers will enjoy these amazing stories."
--Chuck Luttrell, author of Heavy Weather Boating Emergencies

Behind the storiesin Broken Seas

I've been a big fan of seafaring stories. For years, I've had some great adventure and wonderful big-water tales that I've been aching to tell, in my own way. Broken Seas is the result of this passion.

 

For example, Gerry Spiess and his wonderful Yankee Girl was a story I had wanted to do for some time. I had served as the state-side information officer for the voyage, and had flown to Hawaii to welcome him to the first stop in his long trip across the Pacific, but we'd never published anything on the trip. Ten Feet Across the Pacific will let readers find out more about this remarkable voyage and the equally remarkable mariner and his home-built and self-designed craft.

 

Mike Plant is another sailor I've written about before and on whom I had collected a big file. One day, as I was going through several of these dusty files, the way writers sometimes do, the story simply popped out at me as alive and as vital as when I knew Mike. The Passion of Mike Plant. was a story that simply had to be told, and, it became a very real passion with me to tell it. At the time I had left it after Mike's untimely death on the North Atlantic aboard his giant racer, Coyote, most people did not know what had happened on the tragic voyage. My research led me in various directions, including to Herb McCormick, at Cruising World magazine, who also knew Mike and had done a terrific article (which he shared with me), and, Mike's parents Mary and Frank Plant. It was at the Plant's home that I said that I could not find the official Coast Guard report about the sinking. Mary Plant, Mike's mother, gave me her copy. Much was revealed in the Coast Guard findings and I was able to use a lot of their official report to further understand some of the controversial aspects of Mike's last voyage. I think that readers who remember and appreciate the contributions of the sailor who was once the finest solo around-the-world ocean racer America ever produced will once again be most interested to read about Mike during what might have been his finest race that resulted in a terrible tragedy. As a seaman, I needed to know what happened. I think other sailors will want to know as well.

 

There are more extraordinary seafaring tales that I found that I long had wanted to write including one from my "own" big pond, Lake Superior. I had heard tales of an old man, almost a Hemingway sort of boater, who had gone out during an ice storm to try to rescue a fellow boater, known as "The Kid." I knew the territory he had gone out in, and, I had even followed the stories of his supposed "coffin." This might all seem a little strange, but you have to read the story, The Old Man and the Inland Sea. To properly do that story, I rowed out into the open waters of Superior in a rowboat (the size of boat the Old Man used), I visited his "boat house" site, I located the type of North Shore skiff he used, and, I talked with people who knew and admired him. I knew a little about meeting a Superior storm in a small boat (see Wake of the Green Storm), and, I've been out in icy conditions before. The result was a heart-felt tale. Like the author, you'll probably feel a great warmth for the raw courage of an old man in an ice-coated, sinking boat, battling gamely onward. It's one of the great tales of the inland sea.

 

There are more tales that have gripped me: the last hours of the Edmund Fitzgerald, for example, is a story that I've done before in several books. I've had quite a file on that story, including my interviews with the men who were out on the lake with the Fitzgerald and who gave me their direct stories. But one day at my bookseller's booth, a lady showed up who told me she was related to one of the men who went down on the Fitzgerald. I began seeing the Fitzgerald story in a new dimension: the remarkable battle of the men of the aft section: the last hours of the big boat on Superior as she lost her fight to a terrible storm.

 

One further explanation: I also included the story, The Day All Hell Broken Loose: A small boat battles the Storm of the Century -- and survives! This is the Ensign magazine story based on my own adventures in the July 4, 1999 derecho that hit Lake Superior with winds well in excess of 100 mph. I thought the story was worthwhile to include it in Broken Seas. But after the book was put together, I received word from Greg Proteau, executive director of BWI, that I was the recipient of the top honor BWI gives to a boating writer --The West Marine Writer's Award. The judges from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism described the article as "A real page-turner. Compelling, engaging writing that is as fast-moving as the storm that engulfed this sailor on what started off as a clear, calm day on Lake Superior. The writing is vivid in detail about what the sailor was seeing, feeling and thinking -- all of that providing insights and lessons for others who could as easily find themselves suddenly in the eye of a storm."

 

--marlin bree

 

Broken Seas: 216 pages, 6 x 9 size, 4-color cover (with gloss film laminate), 32 b&w photos, 17 illustrations, 6 maps. Only $15.95 US / Canada $21.95. / e-books $6.99 US / $7.99 Canada /Distributed to the book trade by IPG Books, Chicago. Available to booksellers everywhere.