10 Facts You Didn’t Know about the Andrea Gail

Sebastian Junger was 29 years old and climbed trees working as part of landscaping crews. He was freelancing as a writer and living in Gloucester when the Halloween Nor’easter- the no name storm- was boiling along the coast. When it hit Gloucester, the town learned of the dramatic tragedy that befell the Andrea Gail. He decided to write a chapter for a proposed book about it, and he sent it to his literary agent. He received $35,000 as an advance to writer the entire book. Two years later, his book was finished, and it ended up on the New York Times best-seller lists. The Perfect Storm became a Hollywood success and Junger went on to become a war correspondent. He’s also known for his documentary film Restrepo which was nominated for an Oscar. But it is Junger’s story about the Andrea Gail which propelled him- and Gloucester- into national memory. Twenty-seven years later, it still reaches deep.

1. The Andrea Gail was a 72-foot fishing trawler; just 12 years old when the ship and its crew were lost at sea.

The ship was owned by Brown Robert of Marblehead, which was the Andrea Gail’s home port. It was built in 1978 and was powered by a diesel motor. It left Gloucester on September 20th, 1991 and was headed for fishing on the Grand Banks. The international fishing ground is located southeast of Newfoundland Island, Canada. The fishing was poor, so Captain Billy Tyne left Grand Banks bound for Flemish Cap looking for better fishing. The Flemish Cap is about 350 miles east of Newfoundland. Experienced fishermen described the Flemish Cap as thick with fish every day. Apparently, it has been alive with fish and a prime fishing area for more than 500 years. It’s the experienced answer for why the Andrea Gail left the Grand Banks and headed to Flemish Cap at all.

2. The last communication from the Andrea Gail took place with the fishing vessel Hannah Boden.

When Captain Tyne sent his radio message to Linda Greenlaw, Captain of the Hannah Boden, he said his coordinates were 44°00?N 56°40?W, which placed the Andrea Gail about 162 miles east of Sable Island. Hannah Boden was the sistership to Andrea Grail. Greenlaw wrote a book about sword fishing on rough seas titled The Hungry Ocean and another about lobster fishing titled Lobster Chronicles. It was Greenlaw’s opinion that the storm formed over the Andrea Gail, leaving little warning of the strength it would soon have. Three weather systems colliding in the air over the North Atlantic at that time.

3. Captain Tyne recruited Sullivan for the Andrea Gail when a crewman dropped out of the lineup at the last minute.

Tyne lived on Gloucester Avenue and Sullivan lived around the corner. The two friends were close. The two families became closer after the tragedy. Both attended memorial tributes to the crew members and began conversations which have lasted to this day.

4. Every year, The Gloucester Fishermen’s Memorial Service pays tribute to the crew of the Andrea Gail

Gloucester is the oldest seaport in the United States, and its citizens know the way of the sea well. It’s still a place where the fishermen go down to the sea daily, and sometimes forever. There have been 30 or more since the Andrea Gail tragedy.

5. Captain Richard Haworth speculated that recent modifications to the Andrea Gail contributed to her sinking.

Haworth had been the captain of the Andrea Gail for 8 years. He was the script consultant for The Perfect Storm. He said that his experience was that the ship tended to take on a lot of water when fully loaded with fish and fuel. His theory is that the storm hit when the ship was fully -loaded and the deck was already close to the water line. The port side had additional weather siding and Haworth believes that water became trapped on deck. As the rough waves grew, they rocked the boat and it heaved to one side and toppled over.

6. Fisherman jack Flaherty theorized that the Andrea Gail may have muddied fuel which caused engine failure.

Flaherty’s theory is that the fuel may have become contaminated with rust, algae, sediment, or air. Each of these things could contribute to a stalled or failed engine. He believes the extreme conditions fowled the fuel and left the Andrea Gail powerless against a wave and rolled over by it.

7. Captain Tyne’s final radioed words were “She’s comin’ on boys, and she’s comin’ on strong!”

The position of the Andrea Gail was 44°N 56,4°W. This is about 180 miles East of Sable Island. It was October 28th when the ship was returning home and the horrible storm hit. At about 6:00 p.m. Captain Tyne reported 30-foot-high waves and 80 knots wind gusts. After Captain Tyne spoke his last words to the Coast Guard, the ship’s radio went silent. There were no distress signals heard or seen.

8. “The Lady Grace a.k.a. Andrea Gail Children’s Educational Fund” brought in about $18,000

The Lady Grace is the fishing vessel which portrayed the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. The Gloucester Fund administered the charitable cause and distributed the proceeds to the children.

9. Six crew members perished with the Andrea Gail.

Captain William Tyne Jr. was from Gloucester, Massachusetts. He was 37 years old. Robert Shatford was from Gloucester, too. He was 30 years old. Dale Murphy was from Bradenton Beach, Florida. He was 30 years old. David Sullivan’s family lived around the corner from the Tyne family. He was 29 years old, and the youngest of the crew. Michael Moran was from Bradenton Beach. He was 36 years old. Alfred Pierre was from New York City. He was 32 years old.

10. In 1991 several items from the Andrea Gail were found.

A 406Mhz EPIRB in the off position, a propane tank, fuel drums, an empty life raft, and some flotsam were found. The emergency position-indication radio beacon was positively identified as belonging to the Andrea Gail. The items were found on the Southwest corner of Sable Island in Nova Scotia. Fishermen note that the island is about 180 miles East Northeast of the Andrea Gail’s last known position. It was the position where the ship began to encounter the 50 to 80 knot winds and the 30-foot seas. It is also interesting that recent speculation is that the Andrea Gail went down in the general vicinity of the Titanic. The boat has never been found.

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