Friday, August 14, 2009

High Seas High Risk The Story of the Sudburys

By Pat Wastell Norris
1550172085Harbour Publishing6 x 9 · 240 pagesHardback · $28.9580 b&w photos, index1999
Although not old enough to remember the original Sudbury, this review clearly remembers Sudbury II docked next to the Bay Street Bridge in Victoria for many years.
The first Sudbury was a Flower-class corvette and the second was a Lend-Lease salvage tug built in the US in the Second World War.
Island Tug & Barge, once the largest employer in Victoria, BC, was a Pacific Ocean marine salvage company world famous for deep-sea rescues and long distance towing feats - and infamous for superior crews and a feisty little fleet, including the renowned Sudbury and Sudbury II. Most famous, however was the unstoppable, fiery owner, Harold Elworthy - "HB" for "Hard-boiled" - a boy who started with nothing and became a maritime giant. Together these ships and men proved themselves as some of the best marine salvors in the world. High Seas, High Risk recounts the Sudburys' most notable and dramatic tows and rescues, told mostly through the memories and anecdotes of former crewmembers.Island Tug & Barge made headlines around the seafaring world. The Sudburys made almost impossible rescues with ease - towing their charges through typhoons, pulling them off pinnacles of rock, fighting their fires and keeping them afloat with batteries of pumps. Beset by storms, lightning, and impossible conditions, the two tugs always made it home safely. Year after year the drama was repeated, until, one day, the headlines stopped. The Sudbury and the Sudbury II disappeared, Island Tug & Barge was gone.
Pat Wastell Norris, the author, does a fairly credible job of brining the story of these two ships to life. The narrative is well written but a little more research on her part would've made for a better book. Two examples of this are writing how the first Sudbury once went from Curacao to Panama City without going through the Panama Canal. This of course is an impossibility if she'd bothered to look at a map. The other was showing little or no knowledge of the Lend-Lease efforts of the US Government in the 1940s. Sudbury II was never sold to Britain, but loaned.
Apart from these minor points, the overall book is a good read. (DS)

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