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14 April 2014

The Ship and the Storm

The Ship and the Storm: Hurricane Mitch and the Loss of the Fantome by Jim Carrier is the story of a category 5 hurricane that destroyed much of the Caribbean in 1998.

The Windjammer Barefoot Cruise ship Fantome was a popular sailing ship in the eastern Caribbean run by a charismatic captain. Many of the passengers became Windjammer fans for life and booked multiple cruises on the 1927 tall ship.

In many ways this book is an update in weather science and knowledge from the book Isaac's Storm which tells of a hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. And in spite of 100 years of progress, determining the course and strength of a tropical storm is still not exact.

The unpredictable nature of Mitch combined with a fairly trapped position for a ship of its size caught the Fantome in a terrible position with nowhere to shelter. Trying to run from the storm to open sea, but being followed by the storm resulted in the loss of the ship and all 31 crew when the eye of Mitch hovered over the island of Guanaja for 27 hours.

Carrier wrote an easily readable narrative nonfiction book filled with both personal accounts and science of weather. Anyone who has lived where hurricanes flourish would relate to the tales in this book. And weather nerds will love it.

Carrier, Jim. (2001). The Ship and the Storm. New York: Harvest Books.

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