Coming Back Alive by Spike Walker

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When the fishing vessel La Conte sinks suddenly at night in one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and record ninety-foot seas during a savage storm in January 1998, her five crewmen are left to drift without a life raft in the freezing Alaskan waters and survive as best they can.

One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifts off from America's most remote Coast Guard base in the hopes of tracking down an anonymous Mayday signal. A fisherman's worst nightmare has become a Coast Guard crew's desperate mission. As the crew of the La Conte begin to die one by one, those sworn to watch over them risk everything to pull off the rescue of the century.

Spike Walker's memoir of his years as a deckhand in Alaska, Working on the Edge, was hailed by James A. Michner as "masterful . . . will become the definitive account of this perilous trade, an addition to the literature of the sea." In Coming Back Alive, Walker has crafted his most devastating book to date. Meticulously researched through hundreds of hours of taped interviews with the survivors, this is the true account of the La Conte's final voyage and the relationship between Alaskan fishermen and the search and rescue crews who risk their lives to save them.


About Spike Walker

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Spike Walker spent nine seasons as a crewman aboard some of the most successful crab boats in the Alaskan fleet. In addition to his crab-fishing experience, Spike Walker has worked in the offshore oilfields of Louisiana and Texas; along the Mississippi River as a certified, commercial deep-sea diver; and in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska as a logger.
Published October 11, 2002 by St. Martin's Press. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Although the meat of this story is the rescue of fishermen from the sunken vessel La Conte, Walker sets the stage with a few chapters of rescue operations from the early years—a mere 20 years back—when chopper pilots and rescue swimmers counted prayer as their most valuable tool.

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