The Sea Hunters

Bookshelf: The Sea Hunters

The Sea Hunters – Clive Cussler

The Sea Hunters
The Sea Hunters

Clive Cussler is best known for his entertaining yet wildly misogynist novels about Dirk Pitt, the man who men want to be, and whom women cannot resist. Apparently he used some of the money he made from the Dirk Pitt series to set up an organisation (it may be an exaggeration to call it that) called NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency, named for NUMA in his novels. Also, he named his son Dirk.

NUMA has embarked on many searches for lost shipwrecks (and the occasional train and cannon) in expeditions spanning a couple of decades. In The Sea Hunters, Cussler recounts not only the details of the searches undertaken, but also a dramatic version of the sinking or wreck of the ship in question. He takes great liberties with dialogue and speculates, in many cases, as to the sequence of events, but these reconstructions are entertaining and add colour to the shipwreck story.

I was frustrated that in most cases, once the wreck was located, the action was over (the cover of the book is deeply misleading). NUMA does not salvage anything, and usually doesn’t even dive on the wreck or uncover it from beneath the mud. Most of the time no human eyes are laid on their findings. Many of the wrecks Cussler finds are from the American Civil War, and are lying in rivers under nearly two centuries of silt, or completely outside the existing course of the stream. There were one or two instances when I wondered why he was so certain to have found the wreck he sought, as a more or less right-sized reading on the magnetometer was deemed sufficient to confirm its identity.

The book is illustrated with a map for each shipwreck, which assisted with my reading of the tales of the sinking of some of the Civil War ironclads and other boats, because the locations of enemy combatants and land fortifications are also marked.

There is a connection to a National Geographic series of which Cussler is a presenter. Adventures of a Sea Hunter by James Delgado also attempts to ride this wave.

If you’re in South Africa you can buy the book here, otherwise try here or here.

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Clare

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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