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Last Man Off A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt Lewis

Last Man Off A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas

Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   

Sue Baker's view...

The cover portrays what looks like a tiny boat alone in an immense sea. The boat was not that tiny, it had a crew of 39, but the seas were truly immense as were the distances travelled. This was the South Atlantic and Matt Lewis is a rooky fisheries inspector on a South African trawler going after the lucrative Patagonian Toothfish (or Chilean Sea Bass as it’s known in expensive restaurants). Not in the best of condition, the ship was hauling in the fishing lines as a storm worsened, the lines should have been cut and buoyed but the thought of lost profit won out and they continued to fish, the water pouring in through the open hatches overwhelming the vessel which started to sink. Here the story becomes truly terrifying, one boat doesn’t work, the two last boats are overladen, including the one Matt Lewis is in. The cold, the danger, the dying and injured men, who will survive? Recreating the voyage, the sinking and the rescue (of some) conveys the immensity and extreme danger of the Southern Ocean in a way I have seldom read, one gains a real sense of the sea, its depths and the men who go to sea and hope.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. A rollicking story of heroism on the high seas this may be, but it is also an important contribution to the ongoing debate over safety at sea. The incident it relates occurs in the seas of Antarctica at the height of winter and during a terrifying storm. A small unseaworthy fishing boat is sinking, the captain is unable to take any decisions, the crew flees and it remains to a 23-year old marine biologist, the author, to save the day. With three life rafts, he facilitates an escape, but simply getting onto the rafts is just the beginning of the fight for survival.
~ Victoria Bentata


Last Man Off A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt Lewis

Last Man Off by Matt Lewis - a first-hand account of an ocean tragedy The waters of Antarctica, June 6th 1998. 23-year-old Matt Lewis has just started his dream job. An observer aboard a deep sea fishing boat, he is mesmerized by his new surroundings: glistening icebergs, killer whales and majestic albatross. As the crew haul in their lines for the day, the waves seem bigger than usual - they are casting shadows on the deck. A storm is brewing. What follows is an astonishing story of human courage, folly and tragedy. With the captain missing, and the crew forced to abandon ship, Lewis leads the escape onto three life rafts, where the battle for survival begins. This brilliantly written and thrilling hour-by-hour account will be enjoyed by readers of non-fiction classics such as A Perfect Storm and Touching the Void, as well as fans of Deadliest Catch. Matt Lewis was born in Bristol, England, in 1974. He trained as a marine biologist first at Bangor University and then at Aberdeen University, and has an MSc with distinction in Marine and Fisheries Science. In 1998 he got his first deployment as an observer aboard a deep sea fishing boat in the Southern Ocean. The trip was to end in tragedy. He now lives with his wife and two children in Aberdeen.


A story that reminds us of the unforgiving nature of the sea and the courage that lies within the everyday heroes that have found themselves in hell -- Bear Grylls A dramatic tale of survival in one of the most brutal situations on earth. Feels like reading the diary of a doomed man . . . so personal and chillingly real; totally takes you there in a way that is not always comfortable -- Steve Backshall Reads like a sinister version of The Perfect Storm...Thrilling, compelling, unsettling, rewarding . . . This breakneck race of a book isn't just required reading for fans of waterborne peril; Harvard MBAs could also scour the pages as a case study in dysfunctional workplaces and woeful man management. It's like the Perfect Storm, but with gruesomely, even murderously, imperfect people * Sunday Times * A heart-thumping tale of tragedy and survival - minus the Hollywood ending * Daily Telegraph * A thrilling, horrifying and compelling portrait of human survival. Colossal terror unfolds on every page * The Bookseller, Books of the Year * For his compelling account of the hardships of fishing in remote Antarctic waters, and of what it means to abandon ship in a severe storm with inadequate equipment and a crew unprepared for survival. The book is objective but non-judgmental in its descriptiveness, so heightening the true sense of disaster. The style makes the book accessible to a wide public, but it is also essential reading for seafarers, fishermen and yachtsmen, as it concerns attitudes to safety and survival. A truly life-affirming and influential work. * The Mountbatten Maritime Award for best literary contribution - Certificate of Merit *

About the Author

Matt Lewis was born in Bristol, England, in 1974. He trained as a marine biologist first at Bangor University and then at Aberdeen University. He now lives with his wife and two children in Aberdeen. Last Man Off is Matt's first book.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th April 2015


Matt Lewis

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Penguin Books Ltd


256 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

True stories of heroism, endurance & survival
Maritime history



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