Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas

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9780147515346: Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas

“A sinister version of The Perfect Storm. Thrilling.”—Sunday Times (UK)

For readers of The Perfect Storm, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Into the Wild

There’s nothing that armchair adventure lovers relish more than a gripping true story of disaster and heroism, and Last Man Off delivers all that against a breathtaking backdrop of icebergs and killer whales. On June 6, 1998, twenty-three-year-old Matt Lewis had just started his dream job as a scientific observer aboard a deep-sea fishing boat in the waters off Antarctica. As the crew haul in the line for the day, a storm begins to brew. When the captain vanishes and they are forced to abandon ship, Lewis leads the escape onto three life rafts, where the battle for survival begins.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of May 2015: In 1998, a young Scotsman named Matt Lewis sought to boost to his budding career as a marine biologist by securing a position as the "scientific observer" on a fishing vessel. Though he would be considered an officer, his role would be limited and relatively tame compared to the rest of the crews’: documenting wildlife the boat encountered, while also keeping notes on the crew’s adherence to fishing regulations. A coin flip landed him aboard the Sudur Havid, a South African boat bound for the outer waters of Antarctica’s frigid and tempestuous Southern Ocean. Even though his novice eyes, Lewis was immediately struck by its apparent unreadiness, including a dearth of adequate boots and survival suits, and a crew seemingly unprepared for work in the harsh polar environment.

His misgivings were soon realized. As winds rose and whipped the seas into a ship-tossing frenzy, the fuel- and fish-heavy boat listed, taking on water. A disastrous and inexplicable chain of decisions--starting with the Sudur Havid’s chief officers and running down through the ship’s engineers and some of the crew--doomed the ship, putting Lewis in the unlikely position of organizing the frantic evacuation. These are not spoilers--Lewis’s narrative is rich with detail, putting readers in the thick of the action as the panic-struck men stuff themselves into three inadequate rafts and embark on a nightmarish struggle on the open ocean. Last Man Off is a tale of survival, not an adventure story; and while the particulars are often grim and the outcome unhappy, Lewis's book is a sort of catharsis, a compelling testimonial to his experience and the ones that didn’t return. --Jon Foro

About the Author:

Matt Lewis is a trained marine biologist with an MSc with distinction in Marine and Fisheries Science. He now lives with his wife and two children in Aberdeen.

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