The Sea Hunters II

Bookshelf: Sea Hunters II

The Sea Hunters II – Clive Cussler

The Sea Hunters II
The Sea Hunters II

I must be a real sucker for punishment, picking up the second Sea Hunters book for another dose of self-proclaimed raconteur and all round self confident guy Clive Cussler. The first Sea Hunters book was filled to the brim with tales of how magnanimous and characterful Cussler is, interspersed with his trademark reductionist views of women as pairs of breasts with ambulatory organs attached.

Nonetheless I did read this book. It concerns the further searches and discoveries by NUMA, the organisation created by Cussler to search for shipwrecks, and funded by his book royalties. I confess I enjoyed it considerably more than The Sea Hunters, as several of the wrecks sought by Cussler and company were slightly familiar to me. There is less focus on Civil War ironclads and paddle steamers (although they still feature), and more on wrecks outside the borders of the United States.

NUMA engages in a search for the Mary Celeste, a ship I’d read about as a child as a great unsolved mystery. She was found floating in the North Atlantic in 1872, deserted, with the appearance of her crew and passengers having left in a great hurry. Cussler presents a plausible theory (one of the more widely accepted ones) for the disappearance of the crew, related to the ship’s cargo of barrels of alcohol. He claims to have located the remains of the ship, which had several years of service after her crew’s disappearance, on a coral reef off Haiti. The identity of the wreck discovered by NUMA has since been disputed.

The other wreck I enjoyed reading about was the SS Waratah, which went missing off the South African Wild Coast in 1909, while travelling from Durban to Cape Town. The reason for her disappearance is unknown – Cussler favours a freak wave theory. The vessel was inherently unstable, and possibly further destabilised by her cargo. The NUMA team did not find the Waratah (they did find another wreck in the general vicinity, though), and the man who led the search from South Africa gave up the Waratah search in 2004 (after this book was published). For the mean time, we may never know what happened to her.

As in The Sea Hunters, Cussler dramatises the sinking of each vessel, imagining dialogue, thoughts and motivations for the crew and passengers. You may find this distracting, or entertaining. More of the wrecks discovered here are under water than in the previous volume (most of them were under mud), so a little more actual diving and examination of artefacts takes place.

South Africans can buy a copy here, and if you’re in the US go here, or here if you’re in the UK.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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