Heroes of the Sea: Stories from the Atlantic Blue by Robert C. Parsons

Bestselling author Robert C. Parsons presents more than fifty exciting stories of high-seas adventure, set mainly along the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1800s and 1900s, these are true stories of men and women who faced the dangerous Atlantic Ocean in the days of sail. The stories are loosely grouped into nine parts such as Unusual, Wreck, Danger, Anxiety, Survival, Abandonment, Court, People, Conflict. There are also two appendices, black and white photographs and sidebars with further information.

“Recorded stories, folk tales, and documented accounts like those in Heroes of the Sea will ensure the exploits of those steamers and sailing vessels live on.”


Wrecks & Heroes

“The Wreck of the Dispatch” a brig carrying 200 people to Quebec, is one of the longer stories in the collection. It occurred in 1828, and here is an excerpt from the rescue attempt by George Harvey,his daughter Ann and their dog. (The book’s cover is a beautiful depiction by artist Lloyd Pretty of the following excerpt.)

A terrible sea raged between Harvey’s boat and the wrecked ship, but across the awful waste of water the gallant fisherman and his brave children pushed their frail craft . . . and the task of saving the emigrants seemed well-nigh hopeless.
But Harvey’s noble Newfoundland dog, deep diver, bold swimmer with marvellous intelligence, seemed to understand what was required of him.
At a signal from his master, he sprang out of the boat and swam toward the ship. The seas overwhelmed him and drove him back, but he persevered, and finally came near enough.
The sailors threw him a rope which he gripped with his sharp teeth, and at last, he got back to his master and was drawn into the boat almost dead of exhaustion.
Communication was now established between the ship and Harvey’s skiff and with the most laborious efforts every soul was saved.

Unfortunately, not every story has a positive outcome wherein lives were saved. Many wrecks end in all lives lost; in several, the entire ship and crew have gone missing without a trace.


An enormous amount of research by Mr Parsons has gone into Heroes of the Sea, not only to find all these stories but to search for any and all available facts. As he notes in the forward to Part 2: Wreck, “there are very few seamen or fishermen that worked on the old wooden walls who are with us today. Today, cargo and passenger steamers are rarely seen. Yet, recorded stories, folk tales, and documented accounts like those in Heroes of the Sea will ensure the exploits of those steamers and sailing vessels live on.”

Mr Parsons writing style is factual and concise, and he wisely avoids overly embellishing a story with fictionalised dialogue and elaborate and dramatic scenery descriptions.

A great collection of sea stories, Heroes of the Sea is the type of book I can picture gracing a table or a shelf in a sunny porch or a comfy parlour overlooking the restless Atlantic, just awaiting a reader to pick it up and start reading it at random.

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