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The Lost Boys of Montauk: The True Story of the Wind Blown, Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind

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An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as “an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story.” In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of thr An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as “an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story.” In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered. The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk-based fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End’s year-round population. Back then, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, before Wall Street and hedge fund money stormed into town, commercial fishing was the area’s economic lifeblood. Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds. She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories. And she shines a light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons, as well as the secrets that can haunt families from beyond the grave. The story itself is a universal tale of family and brotherhood; it’s about what happens when the dreams and ambitions of affluent and working-class families collide. Captivating and powerful, The Lost Boys of Montauk explores one of the most important questions we face as humans: how do memories of the dead inform the lives of those left behind?


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An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as “an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story.” In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of thr An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as “an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story.” In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered. The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk-based fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End’s year-round population. Back then, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, before Wall Street and hedge fund money stormed into town, commercial fishing was the area’s economic lifeblood. Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds. She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories. And she shines a light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons, as well as the secrets that can haunt families from beyond the grave. The story itself is a universal tale of family and brotherhood; it’s about what happens when the dreams and ambitions of affluent and working-class families collide. Captivating and powerful, The Lost Boys of Montauk explores one of the most important questions we face as humans: how do memories of the dead inform the lives of those left behind?

30 review for The Lost Boys of Montauk: The True Story of the Wind Blown, Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    The Lost Boys of Montauk tells the story – through interviews and much research – of the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown, owned and skippered by husband and father of three boys, Mike Stedman with first mate Dave Connick, twenty-three, and deckhands Michael Vigilant, nineteen and Scott Clarke, eighteen. Wind Blown was a 65 foot long-line trawler; their planned catch would be tilefish, and Wind Blown was Mike’s pride and joy. But many would later say it was unseaworthy, especially seeing as Mi The Lost Boys of Montauk tells the story – through interviews and much research – of the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown, owned and skippered by husband and father of three boys, Mike Stedman with first mate Dave Connick, twenty-three, and deckhands Michael Vigilant, nineteen and Scott Clarke, eighteen. Wind Blown was a 65 foot long-line trawler; their planned catch would be tilefish, and Wind Blown was Mike’s pride and joy. But many would later say it was unseaworthy, especially seeing as Mike would head 120 nautical miles offshore from Montauk Harbour. March 1984, when the fishing fleet headed out to sea, was relatively calm, but it wouldn’t be too many days later, and the weather would turn. The fleet’s captains, on hearing the weather report, all headed for home, including Mike. The last person in contact with Mike heard they’d be back in the harbour by lunch time; Mike was a little rattled as the weather was brutal, but they were all fine. Amanda M. Fairbanks interviewed Mike’s wife Mary in intricate detail; they spent hours together. There were many others she talked to, received photos from and gained insights from. The tragedy of the Wind Blown still haunts survivors to this very day and is the second worst nautical disaster suffered in Montauk’s fishing industry in over 100 years. I found The Lost Boys of Montauk very interesting, tragic and heartbreaking. I also felt it was too long and drawn out, and quite choppy in its delivery. That said, it’s a part of history I hadn’t heard of, and I’m glad to have read it. Recommended. With thanks to Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster UK via NetGalley for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    This one didn't do it for me. I wanted to like this one. I feel bad that 4 men lost their lives and were never found and their family still mourns them. The author is trying to keep these men alive even just in memory with her book and that is commendable. However, there were frequently too many TMIs, and maybe I'm not a man so maybe they're wired differently, but personally if I had died I would not want someone writing about the age I lost my virginity and whether or not I have sex while my gir This one didn't do it for me. I wanted to like this one. I feel bad that 4 men lost their lives and were never found and their family still mourns them. The author is trying to keep these men alive even just in memory with her book and that is commendable. However, there were frequently too many TMIs, and maybe I'm not a man so maybe they're wired differently, but personally if I had died I would not want someone writing about the age I lost my virginity and whether or not I have sex while my girlfriend is on her period. The book is super disjointed. The first part is called "before", but jumps around in time even in that section, and then focuses on two of the men, then "after", then more of the men and its just so all over the place that I could feel my eyes glazing over. Each chapter jumps around in time and it just didn't seem coherent. I can't recommend unless maybe you're really really into fishing and fishermen? Also why are there so many 5 star reviews of this book where the people only liked this one book?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Smith

    A fantastic, gripping book about the intersecting lives of some young men from the Hamptons, some of whom were sons of privilege, and others of whom were local boys . They became surfers and fisherman and tried to prove themselves in the dangerous deep sea fishing trade and were lost in a monstrous storm. They left behind some loves and some secrets. But I wont spoil the book. Very touching story and great history of the Hamptons and the fishing trade. A great summer or anytime read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    GeneralTHC

    It's a rare day I give a book one star, but frankly I thought this book sucked. There's no plot, no real story, it's mostly all very uninteresting filler. Either there's just not enough known about what actually happened to merit a book or the author just isn't talented enough to tell the story. Either way it's pretty lame alright. I can't believe it's made it to "book of the month" category. It's a rare day I give a book one star, but frankly I thought this book sucked. There's no plot, no real story, it's mostly all very uninteresting filler. Either there's just not enough known about what actually happened to merit a book or the author just isn't talented enough to tell the story. Either way it's pretty lame alright. I can't believe it's made it to "book of the month" category.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna Oschman

    I wanted to love this book as a girl who grew up on the East and of Long Island and had her first job working in East Hampton. I enjoyed all of the history and references to Gosman’s and Shagwong places I have been to and love. Unfortunately, I felt like the author at times was all over the place and also gave us every fact she found, out. It felt exhausting and I as if we were given all this information but also told nothing all at the same time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori Hawkins

    While The Lost Boys of Montauk is nonfiction, it reads like fiction. It’s immediately evident that the writer, Amanda Fairbanks, not only cared deeply about the people contained within this story, but wanted to do it justice. I simply couldn’t put it down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Buron

    2.5 stars! The publisher was nice enough to reach out to me with a free copy of this book. The author definitely did a lot of research into the various histories of the families involved but I didn’t feel like I got to know the four men themselves enough. It was a little too long and drawn out as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Gardenier

    While this was a well written, interesting and well researched book, as it went on, I couldn't help but wonder about the ethics of a journalist writing a book about the private lives and secrets of ordinary people who are not public figures. At times it felt invasive and disrespectful. While this was a well written, interesting and well researched book, as it went on, I couldn't help but wonder about the ethics of a journalist writing a book about the private lives and secrets of ordinary people who are not public figures. At times it felt invasive and disrespectful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Until I got to the end, this was going to be 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars, but I decided that the ending (at least for me) helped me see the purpose of the book, so I decided to round up. Throughout the story, I kept thinking that this would do well as a documentary, with photos and video footage (recreated or otherwise), and there were definitely passages where I could almost hear an announcer's voice talking about the story. It makes me wonder what this would be like as an audiobook--some Until I got to the end, this was going to be 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars, but I decided that the ending (at least for me) helped me see the purpose of the book, so I decided to round up. Throughout the story, I kept thinking that this would do well as a documentary, with photos and video footage (recreated or otherwise), and there were definitely passages where I could almost hear an announcer's voice talking about the story. It makes me wonder what this would be like as an audiobook--somehow I think it would enhance the story for me. Instead, as I slowly made my way through the book, I kept trying to figure out the author's purpose in writing this book. Ultimately, I feel like this story was a way for the survivors to remember the four men, and perhaps for some to find some sense of closure. I came away from this story realizing that Sea is a powerful force, to be respected, feared, and loved and that these men (and many of their families) had a powerful connection to the ocean that has never gone away. I personally don't have that kind of connection, but it makes me appreciate just how hardy and hardworking anyone who lives off of the sea has to be. Oddly enough, it gave me a new appreciation for Jesus' four fishermen disciples. This is not a happy story, as one can imagine, but I like what became of Mike's three sons, especially the oldest, and I think that was in part due to the Charron family's influence and generous hearts. Overall, I think this story could have been helped with a little bit more editing, but I'm still glad I read it. I knew nothing about Montauk before and had definitely never heard of this tragedy. I thought the author did a good job of helping us see the long-lasting effect of this tragedy on those they left behind, and all the what-ifs that haunt the survivors to this day. Some were hit more permanently and negatively than others, while others have managed to find a way to live with the pain. Remarkably, everyone the author interviewed remembered these days with much clarity, even after all these years. This in itself tells me just how affected these people were. If this book helps some of them find some closure, then blessings to them. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This book was so poorly-written that it hurt my eyes. The only reason it gets even one star is because of the tragedy of the story. The writer committed so many rookie reporter mistakes - including irrelevant details to show she did the research (who cares what Ed Koch said in an obit of a tangential character?), cringeworthy cliches ("siren song of Manhattan" - OUCH - "weekend people seem to breathe more rarified air" - DOUBLE OUCH - "The Wind Blown became Mike's mistress" - STOPPPP) and factua This book was so poorly-written that it hurt my eyes. The only reason it gets even one star is because of the tragedy of the story. The writer committed so many rookie reporter mistakes - including irrelevant details to show she did the research (who cares what Ed Koch said in an obit of a tangential character?), cringeworthy cliches ("siren song of Manhattan" - OUCH - "weekend people seem to breathe more rarified air" - DOUBLE OUCH - "The Wind Blown became Mike's mistress" - STOPPPP) and factual errors (were rich people really driving station wagons in the 1980s?) Other annoyances: how do you mention Joyce Maynard without mentioning J.D. Salinger? Pete's nephew Truman puts rocks on Dave's headstone - why would he follow a Jewish tradition? "A check never materialized" at a private club - DUH - that's what private clubs do. The structure of the book was also very difficult to follow - it careened across decades back and forth without rhyme or reason. There are way too many irrelevant characters and there's no index to remind the reader who they are. The writer also threw herself into the book for no apparent reason other than to give herself a pat on the back - Chris Stedman told her she's "authentic." The writing also seemed to change dramatically at Part Five. Did someone else write the final chunk? I guess I should have stopped when the writer confessed she believes in ghosts. Shame on me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    This book was so disappointing. This is the first book I've ever wanted my money back for. I can only give one star because it was good to learn about the crew of the Wind Blown and know they're not forgotten. Some of the history of Montauk and Long Island was interesting, as well. But the content is so disjointed. It was hard to follow the list of people that the author kept dropping into the story. And a lot of the content was unnecessary filler. The book was way too long for the limited amount This book was so disappointing. This is the first book I've ever wanted my money back for. I can only give one star because it was good to learn about the crew of the Wind Blown and know they're not forgotten. Some of the history of Montauk and Long Island was interesting, as well. But the content is so disjointed. It was hard to follow the list of people that the author kept dropping into the story. And a lot of the content was unnecessary filler. The book was way too long for the limited amount of relevant information provided. Also, it seemed like the author shared some very personal information about the deceased and their families that did nothing to further the story. Just because it might be true doesn't mean it's relevant. But that's just my opinion. I'm sure some people appreciate this writing style. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacie Moore

    There’s definitely a chance I’m rating this higher than deserved because I’m drawn to the material. I have no doubt there will be a million comparisons to The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and, rightly so. It’s very similar in style, but also, how else could you really tell such a story? While I wouldn’t say it’s as good as TPS, it still has great character development, interesting information from great sources, and, well, heart. If you enjoy stories of peril at sea, I think you’ll be glad There’s definitely a chance I’m rating this higher than deserved because I’m drawn to the material. I have no doubt there will be a million comparisons to The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and, rightly so. It’s very similar in style, but also, how else could you really tell such a story? While I wouldn’t say it’s as good as TPS, it still has great character development, interesting information from great sources, and, well, heart. If you enjoy stories of peril at sea, I think you’ll be glad you got this one. If not, this won’t be the one to convert you. Still, I found I hate to rate it highly because it was certainly written with love.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sudhir Venkatesh

    If you think you know the Hamptons, think again. This book opens up worlds that many of us never see up close. Rarely do we see so many sides of an American community, one that comes together as it is ripped apart by a tragedy that won’t fade away. A craft, fishing, that is as old as man, becomes a thread for the author to weave a timeless tale of grief, love, and resilience.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Judy Millner

    You must read this book! As an avid reader, it is rare to come across a book this well written. The Lost Boys of Montauk is a riveting piece of non fiction which brilliantly reads like fiction. With Ms. Fairbanks’ journalism background, I found this book to be beautifully researched and, in heart wrenchingly detail, delivered. It is a sea tale of family and betrayal, of societal discrepancies and privilege, of young love and devastating family grief. This book will pull on your heartstrings, all You must read this book! As an avid reader, it is rare to come across a book this well written. The Lost Boys of Montauk is a riveting piece of non fiction which brilliantly reads like fiction. With Ms. Fairbanks’ journalism background, I found this book to be beautifully researched and, in heart wrenchingly detail, delivered. It is a sea tale of family and betrayal, of societal discrepancies and privilege, of young love and devastating family grief. This book will pull on your heartstrings, allow you to relive your carefree youth, and will take you on a voyage of your highest expectations. We owe it to these beautiful young men, these souls and their families left behind, to know them and to honor them. It is a must read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Cranin

    I've been coming to the East End for 30 years and have watched the social dynamics change between the locals and weekend people. Amanda Fairbanks' powerful book is poignant in many ways, but shining a light on this slow, but inexorable, change is heartbreaking. It's a sad and wonderful book. I've been coming to the East End for 30 years and have watched the social dynamics change between the locals and weekend people. Amanda Fairbanks' powerful book is poignant in many ways, but shining a light on this slow, but inexorable, change is heartbreaking. It's a sad and wonderful book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Buried here is a tale of a tragedy at sea, family dysfunction, and a community defined by class differences. Unfortunately, these themes are dwarfed by a disjointed narrative structure and mired in extraneous detail. It’s clear the writer did a lot of research but it seems like she felt compelled to report every single thing she learned rather than edit to tell the compelling story this might have been.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Pickens

    Like many adventures books about the sea, this story ends tragically. If you enjoyed The Perfect Storm, you were would probably enjoy this book. The author does keep hitting you over the head with the fact that whole crew of young men died, but like most nonfiction the ending is a known fact. The dilemma is why chose this high risk way to make a living but it's the same reason people participate in any risky sports like scuba diving or surfing. They enjoy the adrenaline rush so it's their choice Like many adventures books about the sea, this story ends tragically. If you enjoyed The Perfect Storm, you were would probably enjoy this book. The author does keep hitting you over the head with the fact that whole crew of young men died, but like most nonfiction the ending is a known fact. The dilemma is why chose this high risk way to make a living but it's the same reason people participate in any risky sports like scuba diving or surfing. They enjoy the adrenaline rush so it's their choice to make.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was a pretty strange book. I sort of liked it and sort of didn't. The author says she wanted to write it to honor the four missing men but she exposed family secrets that were kind of shocking and really didn't do much to honor the memories of these men or their families. The book veered between TMI and then not enough information. In one case, she introduces someone named Philip who really didn't add much to the story and then she casually said his mother divorced his father and went on to This was a pretty strange book. I sort of liked it and sort of didn't. The author says she wanted to write it to honor the four missing men but she exposed family secrets that were kind of shocking and really didn't do much to honor the memories of these men or their families. The book veered between TMI and then not enough information. In one case, she introduces someone named Philip who really didn't add much to the story and then she casually said his mother divorced his father and went on to marry a rich Manhattan lawyer. That rich Manhattan lawyer was the late Linda Eastman McCartney's father and I know this because I used to work with Philip's brother. That's kind of a flashy tidbit that could have been added since she was telling more details about everyone and everything than I knew what to do with and found out ultimately that they had nothing to do with much of anything regarding the four vanished men.

  19. 4 out of 5

    BookwormishMe

    4.75 stars / This review will be posted at BookwormishMe.com today. In March 1984 a fishing boat went down in the Atlantic during a storm. No, not the Andrea Gail, the F/V known as the Wind Blown. With four fishermen on board, no mayday was sounded, no distress calls, no known location. All that is known is that the Wind Blown was out in that storm and neither the boat nor fishermen ever returned home. But it’s more than just a story about a downed vessel. Fairbanks does a journalist’s job of goi 4.75 stars / This review will be posted at BookwormishMe.com today. In March 1984 a fishing boat went down in the Atlantic during a storm. No, not the Andrea Gail, the F/V known as the Wind Blown. With four fishermen on board, no mayday was sounded, no distress calls, no known location. All that is known is that the Wind Blown was out in that storm and neither the boat nor fishermen ever returned home. But it’s more than just a story about a downed vessel. Fairbanks does a journalist’s job of going deep into the story to share the lives of the four men on board - Mike Stedman, the captain; Dave Connick, Michael Vigilant and Scott Clarke - the three mates. She shares how their worlds collided on a dock in Montauk and how the people left behind have survived this tragedy. Fairbanks ability to sort through the fluff, which is all most survivors want to share about deceased friends and family members, and get down to the nitty gritty, the not so pretty stuff. In the end, we know more about how these four ended up at the bottom of the sea, and the trauma left behind by their loss. This is a compelling novel. Sharing the stories of these families is important to their future generations and the fishing community that they not be forgotten. Well written and researched, it is a book that will be enjoyed by fans of real life drama.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    2 star The Lost Boys of Montauk by Amanda M. Fairbanks This is supposed to be the story of the lost ship Windblown and the men who lost their lives. However, this is more a story of those left behind and their lives than those who died. This is a strange yet interesting book The author clearly put in a lot of time and research into the book but so much of this book is pure fluff. Fairbanks also has some very strange beliefs that keep creeping in the book for no real reason. The Lost Boys of Montauk 2 star The Lost Boys of Montauk by Amanda M. Fairbanks This is supposed to be the story of the lost ship Windblown and the men who lost their lives. However, this is more a story of those left behind and their lives than those who died. This is a strange yet interesting book The author clearly put in a lot of time and research into the book but so much of this book is pure fluff. Fairbanks also has some very strange beliefs that keep creeping in the book for no real reason. The Lost Boys of Montauk is exceedingly long-winded especially for a book with no real ending. I recommend skipping this book entirely. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian Ratty

    The Lost Boys of Montauk: With the distinctive flair of the movie Perfect Storm, author Amanda M. Fairbanks crafts a fascinating true story about four young commercial fishermen who vanish at sea off Montauk Harbor New York in March of 1984. The book isn’t so much about the tragic wreckage of their fishing boat Wind Blown as it is about the many onshore survivors that now have to deal with their untimely deaths. Well researched and brilliantly written, 'The Lost Boys of Montauk’ is a look back t The Lost Boys of Montauk: With the distinctive flair of the movie Perfect Storm, author Amanda M. Fairbanks crafts a fascinating true story about four young commercial fishermen who vanish at sea off Montauk Harbor New York in March of 1984. The book isn’t so much about the tragic wreckage of their fishing boat Wind Blown as it is about the many onshore survivors that now have to deal with their untimely deaths. Well researched and brilliantly written, 'The Lost Boys of Montauk’ is a look back to the swinging sixties, with all the haves and have not’s of the Hamptons, and is a highly rewarding read. Brian D. Ratty, author

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I am conflicted about how to rate this one. The book makes for interesting reading throughout, but the narrative is extremely choppy and unfocused, to the point of being occasionally chaotic. The emotional weight of many characters' secrets seems nakedly exposed rather than cohesively considered and packaged. As a reading experience, it's entertaining but also feels like rubbernecking. I am conflicted about how to rate this one. The book makes for interesting reading throughout, but the narrative is extremely choppy and unfocused, to the point of being occasionally chaotic. The emotional weight of many characters' secrets seems nakedly exposed rather than cohesively considered and packaged. As a reading experience, it's entertaining but also feels like rubbernecking.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Chaplin

    As I read, and I couldn't put it down, I couldn't help but think of this as a motion picture or a limited series. It's kind of a mix of THE PERFECT STORM meets MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, with the young love of GOOD WILL HUNTING combined with the adultery and secrets of THE AFFAIR. As I read, and I couldn't put it down, I couldn't help but think of this as a motion picture or a limited series. It's kind of a mix of THE PERFECT STORM meets MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, with the young love of GOOD WILL HUNTING combined with the adultery and secrets of THE AFFAIR.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I didn't finish reading this. 1. The audiobook narrator is awful. 2. I expected a story and got jumbled facts instead. 3. The author is writing like it was the Titanic. I feel bad that the 4 men died but why is this even a book? I didn't finish reading this. 1. The audiobook narrator is awful. 2. I expected a story and got jumbled facts instead. 3. The author is writing like it was the Titanic. I feel bad that the 4 men died but why is this even a book?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Scheppmann

    Boring. Could not keep my interest.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Norman Lippman

    Disappointed I wanted a story about the sea, maybe another perfect storm. What I got was a boring history of the families and friends.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    Today Montauk, NY located on the eastern tip of Long Island finds itself in the middle of a major transition. First, it is a vacation/tourist spot with million dollar homes and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, Block Island Sound, and numerous freshwater ponds. Second, are the locals who try to maintain the quaintness and hope to prevent the “Hamptonization” of their town. It is a struggle as the commercial fishing boats still ply the waters that surround the area, but also it is exposed to mor Today Montauk, NY located on the eastern tip of Long Island finds itself in the middle of a major transition. First, it is a vacation/tourist spot with million dollar homes and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, Block Island Sound, and numerous freshwater ponds. Second, are the locals who try to maintain the quaintness and hope to prevent the “Hamptonization” of their town. It is a struggle as the commercial fishing boats still ply the waters that surround the area, but also it is exposed to more and more people who either settled in year round because of Covid-19 which allowed them to work virtually from anywhere, or others who used their second homes to escape the pandemic that overwhelmed New York City. In her new book, THE LOST BOYS OF MONTAUK: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WIND BLOWN, FOUR MEN WHO VANISHED AT SEA, AND THE SURVIVORS THEY LEFT BEHIND, Amanda M. Fairbanks, a former reporter for the East Hampton Star and New York Times creates a history of the Montauk region as she presents the lives of Michael Stedman, David Connick, Michael Vigliant, and Scott Clarke who perished at sea on March 29, 1984, and the ramifications of those deaths for those left behind. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working class village. “a drinking town, with a fishing problem,” to a playground for the wealthy. In addition, the author explores why a fishing accident forty years ago still resonates so strongly in the minds of locals. The book is a heartwarming and judicious account of the accident, what led up to it, how the different personalities involved interacted, and the implications for the future for survivors. The motivating force in the story is Mike Stedman, a young man who was married to the water. Whether he was surfing, running a party boat, or becoming a commercial fisherman, Mike was an intense individual who seemed to know what he wanted and did not want anything to get in his way. His goal in life was to own his own boat and stop working for others, and in 1982 he purchased the “Wind Blown,” a commercial boat out of Freeport, TX. His wife Mary felt bad karma from the outset, and many believed that the boat which had three previous owners and suffered mechanical difficulties on the trip back from Texas, was not seaworthy enough to engage in commercial shipping in the North Atlantic. The crew of the Wind Blown formed a brotherhood despite their varied backgrounds economically and socially. Michael V. and Scott C. were young deckhands from a hardscrabble background while Michael S., and Dave C. came from a privileged background. Mike and Dave bonded easily as they shared poor relationships with their straight laced fathers and just wanted to be part of the water which their parents could not accept. The four men worked as a team, many times to exhaustion as bringing in tilefish was very lucrative in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Fairbanks does a marvelous job explaining the rigorous life of commercial fishermen and its impact on their families. On March 28, 1984, the National Hurricane Service in New York posted a gale warning, later it issued a winter storm warning as the Montauk Light House reported wind gusts of over 100 mph. The Wind Blown which had been out to sea for a few days headed back to Montauk and ran into a full blown nor’easter, the worst since 1962. In describing how the crisis transpired, the author relied on extensive research that included interviews with family members, friends, and local townspeople. What was clear is that the four young men were well liked and respected throughout the community. This was highlighted by many contributions that helped pay for the search and rescue operations performed by private groups once the Coast Guard had pronounced that the ship and men had vanished. Fairbanks integrates a study of the socio-cultural nature of the region, even providing a history of the tilefish’s migratory patterns and the money it brought to commercial fisherman. She also focuses on the Maidstone Club and its history to highlight the economic dichotomy that existed as well as racism and anti-Semitism. It was a club the Connick’s belonged to and it was the epitome of “old money.” Fairbanks provides insights into many of the characters who spent most of their lives in Montauk and its environs. Most were fisherman, bar owners, surf shop owners and the like who formed a special bond who resented many of the interlopers that began to pour into Montauk. Throughout one must keep in mind that Montauk is the largest commercial harbor in New York State. Its home to the greatest sports fishing on the east coast – species such as shark, tuna, and marlin proliferate at certain times of the year which attracted many outsiders. The issue of closure for survivors is an important theme that Fairbanks develops. It is a very complex situation emotionally when no bodies were located, though parts of the Wind Blown and its crews’ personal effects were found. The Coast Guard did conduct a full five day search that included the Air National Guard and the US Navy. Twenty fishing boats, five planes, and three helicopters scoured the 25,000 square miles of ocean between Block Island and the Delaware coast to no avail. Once completed the privately funded search continued for another ten days, but is that enough for closure? For many to this day the snuffing out of four promising young lives is still hard to accept. To Fairbanks’ credit unlike other books on boating disasters she focuses more on the living than the dead. She also is able to seamlessly integrate the cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s and the impact on the crew and their families, in addition to the rift between townies and the weekend set from New York. Fairbanks writes that she “wanted to understand how tragedies become imprinted in our memories, how trauma and grief wend their way through generations and become a kind of inheritance bequeathed to our descendants.” If this was her goal, she has accomplished it with a well written and poignant book that exhibits a great deal of love, but tremendous sorrow and grief.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    This involved an actual account of a fishing vessel that disappeared without a trace during a fierce nor’easter, in 1984. It’s an intriguing approach, in that the author offers a window into the lives and backgrounds of the four fishermen on board. Why were they drawn to this way of life, the author wondered? Two of the four had come from very wealthy backgrounds, attending prestigious eastern prep schools, an aspect I found particularly fascinating! Several family trees were provided in the fro This involved an actual account of a fishing vessel that disappeared without a trace during a fierce nor’easter, in 1984. It’s an intriguing approach, in that the author offers a window into the lives and backgrounds of the four fishermen on board. Why were they drawn to this way of life, the author wondered? Two of the four had come from very wealthy backgrounds, attending prestigious eastern prep schools, an aspect I found particularly fascinating! Several family trees were provided in the front of the book, which would have proved helpful. However, I forgot they were there, and consequently struggled unnecessarily with the various generations! Rounding out the picture, the author describes how Montauk evolved from an unpretentious fishing village to a tony summer retreat for the very wealthy. ‘Back in the nineteenth century, Montauk had an isolated, largely uninhabited beauty. Some have likened its rolling hills to the moors of Scotland and the South Downs of England. Although Montauk more than equals Manhattan in area and lies within easy striking distance of the city (Montauk is 125 miles from New York), its remoteness, especially in winter, when deer outnumber people, has drawn comparisons to Mongolia.’ The reader learns how businessmen with vision could picture Montauk’s Fort Pond Bay as a ‘future transatlantic port of entry for ships travelling to and from Europe’. In order to make Long Island accessible, the president of the Long Island Railroad oversaw the production of high-speed trains which would whisk passengers between Montauk and Queens in two and a half hours. Friday afternoon happy hour would commence as workers boarded the 4:06 Cannonball at Penn Station, and many passengers were quite mellow upon arrival at Southampton and Montauk! This facilitated the colonization by summer people, and thereby came the transformation. The loss of the Wind Blown was a terrible tragedy which rocked the little community. While it happened nearly twenty years ago survivors are still grieving. Why did all the other fishing boats get back into safety in time? The author diligently sought to interview numerous friends and family members, as she tried to fit the puzzle pieces together. There were definitely some dysfunctional relationships in play. The captain of the boat and one of his crew members had come from wealth, and both young men were determined not to follow expectations regarding their futures. They almost resented their backgrounds and found their social status an embarrassment. The other two young men had grown up around the water and this is what they knew. Drugs were in play. The wealthy boys had the leisure and the means to dabble in this trouble. Surfing had become a popular pastime, a strong distraction bordering on obsession. I did enjoy up close look at that other world. Some of the relationship undercurrents left me incredulous, but then that’s part of why this was a good story!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Quinby6696 Frank

    While reading this book will discourage anyone from "going to the sea in boats", the stories told in this book encompass much more than a tragic maritime disaster. Through careful and thorough research and numerous interviews, Fairbanks has really done her homework. The social stratifications on Long Island between the wealthy Manhattanites who used Montauk as a summer playground and the commercial fisherman everyday working folks who get their risky living from the sea are on vivid display as r While reading this book will discourage anyone from "going to the sea in boats", the stories told in this book encompass much more than a tragic maritime disaster. Through careful and thorough research and numerous interviews, Fairbanks has really done her homework. The social stratifications on Long Island between the wealthy Manhattanites who used Montauk as a summer playground and the commercial fisherman everyday working folks who get their risky living from the sea are on vivid display as repercussions from the loss of four young men representing both reverberate among the survivors. I was particularly interested in this book because my husband's mother and her five siblings grew up in Southampton - one of only two Jewish families in the town - and our children and grandchildren have spent summers on Long Island. The places described in the book are lovingly familiar. Our children used to make up ghost stories about the crumbling old (huge!) stables, a relic from the original Montauk Manor before it was restored in recent years. Gosman's Dock was a great place to take young children because the floor was covered in sawdust, a willing receptacle for small children's messes. Now it is much too fancy for such doings. A gripping story of the East End and the men and women who live there.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Asterionella

    This was not what I was expecting, which is unfortunate. This is primarily a meandering personal history of three of the four men who were lost in this tragedy and their families and friends (there is unaccountably little about the fourth man). It’s clear that the author did a lot of interviews and the book hopefully means a lot to the community who lost these four sons. But their story could have been told within a better and linear narrative. Details of the tragic accident are almost accidenta This was not what I was expecting, which is unfortunate. This is primarily a meandering personal history of three of the four men who were lost in this tragedy and their families and friends (there is unaccountably little about the fourth man). It’s clear that the author did a lot of interviews and the book hopefully means a lot to the community who lost these four sons. But their story could have been told within a better and linear narrative. Details of the tragic accident are almost accidentally interspersed in long histories of so and so’s uncle’s second wife’s stepdaughter who went to 3rd grade with one of the boys. I didn’t know until page 236 that actual wreckage of the boat was found during the search, and that detail is left hanging as the author dives into the life of mike’s high school math teacher who loaned him money for his boat. This is truly a tragic story and it touches on a fishing history of Montauk that is long gone. But the book doesn’t bring it any closer to the reader.

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