Brian W. Lavery

The Luckiest Thirteen: A True Story of a Battle for Survival in the North Atlantic

A History Camp Discussion with author Brian W. Lavery about his book, The Luckiest Thirteen: A True Story of a Battle for Survival in the North Atlantic, where he discussed a real-life tale of 13 crew members on a British trawler who face a terrifying ordeal on Christmas Day 1966 in the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic.

From the Publisher:

A relentless nautical drama that would define, or end, men’s lives.

The English port city of Hull was home to ‘three day millionaires’ – trawlermen on brief shore leave. They were spilling cash from record catches. With months out working fierce seas, who knew if the next trip would be their last?

The St Finbarr was set to change all that.

She was built as the perfect trawler, no cost spared. She was the future of the industry. She was on her thirteenth voyage.

The Grand Banks, Christmas Day 1966.

No holiday for the crew. They weren’t fishing. They were battling for their lives. Who can survive a fireball at sea? The families of the crew had a cruel wait to find out. Ships hit the fierce seas off Newfoundland to join a two-day rescue mission. From first sparks to gut-wrenching heroics, The Luckiest Thirteen tracks a true story from the far reaches of what fishermen can do.

[Recorded on March 7, 2024]

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      Brian W. Lavery, born in Glasgow’s East End, forged a successful career as a journalist before undertaking a first-class joint honours degree (English and Creative Writing) and a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Hull. His account of Hull’s triple trawler disaster, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, brought national attention to previously untold lives of heroism. It has been optioned for film and spawned BBC TV and radio documentaries, song cycles, a poetry collection and has been optioned for film. In August 2020 Dr Lavery received the City of Kingston upon Hull Lord Mayor’s Civic Crown Award for preserving his adopted city’s heritage. He lectures in creative writing and journalism at the University of Leeds Lifelong Learning Centre, and is features writer for Fishing News and several other publications.

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