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Contact: Dani Crawford, South District Interpreter, 508-255-3421, ext. 0305
On February 18, 1952 an astonishing maritime event began when a ferocious nor'easter split in half a 500-foot long oil tanker, the Pendleton, approximately one mile off the coast of Cape Cod. Massachusetts.Incredibly, just twenty miles away, a second oil tanker, the Fort Mercer, also split in half.On both fractured tankers men were trapped on the severed bows and sterns, and all four sections were sinking in 60-foot seas. Thus began a life and death drama of survival, heroism, and a series of tragic mistakes. Of the 84 seamen aboard the tankers, 70 would be rescued and 14 would lose their lives. On August 29 and 30 Cape Cod National Seashore will host two events that commemorate this dramatic rescue.
On Monday, August 29 at 7 PM the national seashore will show the 2016 Disney blockbuster film, The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. The following evening, on Tuesday, August 30 at 7 PM author Michael Tougias will speak on the wrecks and the daring rescue. Tougias is the co-author of The Finest Hours: The True Story of the US Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. The movie is based on the book. Both events will be held at the Salt Pond Visitor Center, 50 Nauset Road, Eastham.The events are free, but are ticketed, as space is limited. Call the Salt Pond Visitor Center at 508-255-3421, ext. 0 up to seven days in advance of each event to reserve your free seat.
During his presentation on August 30, Tougias will use slides of the storm, the sinking tankers, the rescues, the victims, the survivors, and the heroes to tell the story of this historic event.Tougias will describe the harrowing attempts to rescue the seamen, especially focusing on four young Coast Guardsmen who overcome insurmountable odds to save the lives of 32 crewmen stranded aboard the stern of the Pendleton. Standing between the men and their mission were towering waves that reached 70 feet, blinding snow, and one of the most dangerous shoals in the world, the dreaded Chatham Bar. The waters along the outer arm of Cape Cod are called "the graveyard of the Atlantic" for good reason, yet this rescue defied all odds.
"I enjoy doing these programs," says Tougias, "because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves 'what would I have done.'I don't like to do author readings because I think they are boring, but with a slide presentation, the viewer can visually relive the adventure."Copies of Tougias' book are available for purchase in the Salt Pond bookstore, and the author will sign copies prior to the program on August 30.
The film and the talk are sponsored by the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore.IF YOU GO: Salt Pond Visitor Center is located at the intersection of Route 6 and Nauset Road in Eastham, and can be contacted by calling 508-255-3421. The center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, with staff to assist with activity planning. Visit the museum, view a park film, enjoy panoramic views of Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh, and shop in the gift and bookstore featuring national seashore-related items. For more information about the seashore's programs, visit the park website at www.nps.gov/caco.