In the depths of winter, hundreds of miles from land or rescue, a fishing boat fights for its life in swells as high as houses.
For Matt Lewis, a 23-year-old British marine biologist, it had been his dream first job. Working on the Antarctic seas alongside a toughened South African crew, he is mesmerised by daily life on board the boat.
Lewis watches with awe as a fishing line of 15,000 hooks is baited, discharged and retrieved each day to catch fearsome abyssal predators. Each fish, equipped with razor-sharp teeth and weighing up to 100kg, is hauled overboard by the crew with three-metre-long bamboo gaffs. He is equally dazzled by the glistening icebergs, towering waves, soaring albatross and majestic penguins and killer whales that surround the boat.
But when a massive storm engulfs the boat and she falters, Lewis's dream job turns into a nightmare. The Skipper refuses to act to save his ship, even when the crew are almost swept overboard and the hull begins to flood.
What follows is an astonishing story of human courage, folly and tragedy. When the boat's officers disappear, and the captain suffers a heart attack, Lewis rallies the crew to escape onto three life rafts, despite being one of the most inexperienced men aboard. He is the last man off the sinking ship and his actions will save numerous lives.
But the battle for survival has only just begun. With the light fading and snow falling, Lewis's raft begins to take on water in freezing conditions. No-one knows if rescue is on its way. Thirty-eight men set out. How many will return?
Last Man Off is an hour-by-hour true story of adventure, disaster and miraculous rescue. It will leave you fascinated, terrified and inspired.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 10 / 2014
- 153 x 234mm