Cover image for The ship and the storm : Hurricane Mitch and the loss of the Fantome
The ship and the storm : Hurricane Mitch and the loss of the Fantome
Carrier, Jim, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Camden, Me. : International Marine/McGraw-Hill, [2001]

Physical Description:
263 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G530.F175 C37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Hurricane Mitch was a category five storm, the fourth-fiercest Atlantic storm in history and the worst hurricane in 200 years. The devastation it visited upon Central America dominated the evening news and set back the Honduran economy by 20 years. Roads, fields and entire villages were buried or simply disappeared. What would it have been like to face this storm at sea? This is exactly what happened to the Fantome - a 282-foot steel-hulled, four-masted schooner that carried paying passengers for Windjammer Barefoot Cruises of Miami. After cancelling a cruise and discharging her 97 passengers, she put to sea to dodge the hurricane - a highly questionable decision in itself. Over the next 40 hours, the path of the storm changed, thus negating the ship's every tactic. Her British captain and 30 crew - mostly West Indians - were never found. This work explores every facet of this tragic story. There are questions about the Fantome's seaworthiness, her captain's experience, and the wisdom of the tactics adopted by the president of Windjammer, who was in radio contact with the ship until the hurricane took a final turn to the north.

Author Notes

Jim Carrier is an award-winning journalist and author of seven books. He has written for National Geographic, SAIL, and the New York Times. After 20 years as a radio newscaster, Associated Press correspondent and newspaper editor, and 13 years as the Denver Post's "Rocky Mountain Ranger," he bought a 35-foot sailboat and moved aboard. A survivor of six hurricanes, including Luis, Marilyn, Georges, and Mitch, he has docked his yawl temporarily in Montgomery, Alabama

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch terrorized the Caribbean and Central America, leaving thousands dead, causing billions of dollars in damage, and crippling countries. In the midst of it struggled Guyan March, captain of the Fantome, the largest ship owned by Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. Having determined the Fantome was too big to seek safe harbor in any of the nearby ports, Windjammer and Captain March made the last-minute decision to take the ship out to sea in an attempt to get out of the storm's path. Carrier's account of this desperate race traces the development and erratic path of the storm as it consistently defied all predictions, relates the communications between Windjammer and the Fantome as they ran out of options, and pieces together what must have been the last few minutes of the ship and of the crew's lives. The heart-wrenching testimony of the crew's families, horror stories of survivors on land, and scientific background from the meteorologists provide a thoroughly detailed context in which to view one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history. --Gavin Quinn

Library Journal Review

Here's another book about a ship and a great big stormDbut it's not a clone of The Perfect Storm. This well-written, absorbing saga easily stands on its own. The storm of the title, Hurricane Mitch, devastated Central America in 1998. The ship is the Windjammer Cruises Line's "party boat," Fantome, which found itself in Mitch's path. Journalist Carrier (West of the Divide) does much more than recount the Fantome's attempts to escape the hurricane. The author introduces not only the crew but also the hurricane forecasters and even the residents of the islands. He deftly recounts the complexities of hurricane prediction, and the difficulties faced by the forecasters becomes a riveting part of the whole story. The struggle of the island residents first to survive and then to recover provides a perspective that rounds out this account of the incredible impact that Hurricane Mitch had on Central America and the western Caribbean. This is a good purchase for any library. (Maps and photos not seen.)DAnn Forister, Roseville P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Omoa, Honduras: October 4-10, 1998p. 1
Belize: October 11-17, 1998p. 26
Bay Islands, Honduras: October 18-24, 1998p. 51
Omoa and Miami: October 24-25, 1998p. 67
Omoa: October 25, 1998 Eveningp. 89
Belize and Miami: October 26, 1998 Morning and Early Afternoonp. 104
Gulf of Honduras: October 26, 1998 Afternoon and Eveningp. 119
Roatan, Bay Islands: October 27, 1998 Dawn-Early Afternoonp. 130
Bay Islands: October 27, 1998 Afternoonp. 141