Rescues on the High Seas: Tales of Survival, Hope, and Bravery


133 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55439-003-6
DDC 363.28'6'0971




Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


This short book features three short stories about Canadian sea
disasters and the rescue of the people aboard the doomed vessels. It is
also good entertainment for those who enjoy a quick-and-easy read.
Although it deals with disasters, the title indicates that each story
will have a happy ending, and it does.

The first story, which deals with the abandonment of the oil rig
Vinland on February 22, 1984, is told from the perspective of the radio
operator, Peter. Because of his job, Peter was one of the last to leave
the doomed rig near Sable Island. Would he make it? Would rescue vessels
come to grief on Sable Island? Would the frigid waters kill anyone,
perhaps everyone? It was night and it was winter. Would someone be left
behind? Happily, there had been drills, and the emergency equipment did
what it was supposed to do. The rough seas caused widespread nausea, and
some had to stay in the lifeboats until dawn, but there was no lack of
courage. Heroic rescuers, effective equipment, and trained workers
combined to prevent an anxious and unpleasant few hours from becoming a

The second story, about the sinking of the Rowan Gorilla 1, also took
place in winter, on December 8, 1988, off the coast of Nova Scotia, at
night and in rough water. Again the unfortunate participants coped with
nausea and feared for their lives, and again, thanks to skill, heroism,
and good equipment, everyone survived. The third story, “The Sinking
of the Flare,” is of the same genre. It happened on January 16, 1998,
off the coast of Newfoundland. The emergency began at 4:30 a.m., hours
before dawn.

There are no conclusions and no index. However, readers can see for
themselves that Canadian history really can be exciting, and that Canada
is home to many competent and courageous people.


Chatham, Mark., “Rescues on the High Seas: Tales of Survival, Hope, and Bravery,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,