OVERRIDE

Coming Back Alive

The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas

Spike Walker

St. Martin's Press

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.

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COMING BACK ALIVE
Book IFlyboys and FishermenPrologueAs he steered his speeding twenty-six-foot gillnet boat Marlene out across the Copper River Delta in Alaska's Prince William Sound on a gray, windblown afternoon in 1981, Skip Holden could not have known that within hours he would be engaged in a hellish struggle just to survive, nor could he have imagined how many lives would be so profoundly affected by the outcome.Bold and enterprising, but never reckless, "Holden," as his friends like to call him, was looking forward to doing what he did best, and that was to net salmon.Eight years earlier,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Spike Walker

  • 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.
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Coming Back Alive

The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas

Spike Walker

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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