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David M Quinn

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Leviathan's Master - The Wreck of the World's Largest Sailing Ship
by David M Quinn   

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Historical Fiction

Publisher:  iUniverse ISBN-10:  1440155356 Type: 


Copyright:  September 1, 2009 ISBN-13:  9781440155352

Price: $3.99 (eBook)
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The world’s largest sailing ship is wrecked and seventeen lives are lost. Now, the master is called to account, especially to himself.

It was the biggest sailing vessel ever built and the world’s first super-tanker. In the winter of 1907, the four hundred foot, seven-masted schooner T.W. Lawson was making her first trans-Atlantic crossing with two and a quarter million gallons of kerosene for delivery to London. With almost fifty years of sailing experience, Captain George W. Dow was not intimidated, despite the Lawson’s checkered history. But, three weeks of hurricane winds and an angry sea conspired to easily defeat man and machine. Bereft of her sails, the giant ship found itself trapped in treacherous shoals off the southwest coast of Britain. Seventeen lives would be lost, including a local pilot attempting to avert disaster. Now, Captain Dow is called to account, most especially to himself. Leviathan’s Master is a true story, transformed into a gripping historical novella by the Captain’s great, great nephew.        Excerpt
Then, early in 1907, Arthur Crowley telephoned. I hadn’t seen him in several years, and I was taken aback when he asked to come calling. I figured Coastwise wanted my services, though I never suspected it might be for the Lawson. I suggested he come after dinner, as Jennie would be napping. No need to get her riled up before any decision was taken.

Captain Crowley was a thickset fellow in his late thirties, with closely cropped, light hair. A shadow of a mustache was the only hint of whiskers on his face. He was fourteen years junior to his brother John, yet he looked twenty years older than his years. When he came in, he seemed less than comfortable. I presumed it was the dismal weather. It seemed to me it might snow that evening. We sat in the parlor, nursing hot tea against the cold and winter gloom outside. Despite the hour, I burned the electric lights.

“John would have come, George, but he’s down with a hacking cough,” Arthur began. “He usually handles the management side, while Elmer and I command vessels.” He shifted in his chair without finding his ease.

I pretended not to notice and busied myself with loading my pipe. “Tell John I wish him a speedy recovery. These winter colds are a nuisance! But don’t fret, Arthur. Whether it’s you or John, it’s shipping that’s the subject at hand. What can I do for you?”

Arthur cleared his throat. “Well, George, we’d like you to take command of the Lawson.”

I was speechless. I stood and made a fuss of brushing bits of tobacco off my vest. Then, with a laugh, I said, “What’s the matter, Arthur? You getting tired of being hauled up and down the coast by a steam tug? I wouldn’t blame you at all. Nearly makes a passenger out of a fine captain like yourself. No, don’t try to sell such a post to me.”

Arthur placed his cup on the side table. His face had visibly reddened. “Oh, it ain’t the coastal run for the Lawson, George. The folks at Sun Oil want to deliver kerosene to London. You’d have her under sail, good and proper.”

I froze at the mention of London just as I went to strike a match. “London! The Lawson’s never been an open-sea carrier —might never be with her hard-luck reputation.”

Crowley jumped to his feet; then, apparently embarrassed at his reaction, he resumed his place on the settee. He seemed to me afraid. Maybe he was worried that no master worth his salt would take the position.

“Now, hold on, George! That’s a lot of seadog hooey. Sure, she’s run aground on occasion, but she was never built for the coastal trade. She’d have been a deep-water vessel save for the damned international manning regulations. But those requirements are behind us. The Lawson can sail the oceans and turn a good profit too. I tell you, George, she’ll handle well, loaded and in open waters.”

I stared at the carpet, my mind racing. I needed time to digest this crazy notion. I turned back to Crowley. “If it’s true what you say, why aren’t you happy to take her across?”

Crowley shifted again. “You know I’m a coastal man—always have been. You’ve been a deep-water master since before I was born! Besides, John wants a man who knows schooners back and forth, inside and out.”

“When’s the sailing? She’ll need refitting, top-masts replaced, new rigging.”

“I’m not clear on that yet. But you’re right. We’ll refit her in New York. Can’t say how long that will take. I would guess we’re looking at August or September, maybe.”

As he stood to leave, he pressed me for an answer.

“I’ll give it serious thought,” I promised, fetching his coat and hat. “Tell John I’ll have an answer for you in a day or two. You know I have a high regard for you Crowleys. With John Emery gone and Dan easing away from the brokerage, I can’t think of a company more to my liking. But it’s the ship, you see. It’s that oversized ‘tin can’ that’s the worry.”

Arthur didn’t push further. He thanked me, we shook hands, and he passed out into the gathering dusk.

August or September, eh? At least the weather ought to be tolerable.… Jesus, what will Jennie say?

Professional Reviews

Allbooks Reviews/ Lisa Haselton
Captain George W. Dow knows the sea from spending most of his life on ships in all types of weather. When his seven-masted sailing ship encounters several rough ocean storms in a row, both it and the crew are left more than tattered.

Dow knew the 400-foot schooner’s history and reluctantly accepted the post to transport over two million gallons of kerosene from the U.S. to London. The T.W. Lawson started its first, and last, transatlantic crossing in late 1907 with a small, hurriedly selected crew.

The tale of the largest sailing vessel’s ocean crossing is compelling at a very human level. The author weaves the survival tale of his great, great uncle with dialogue and descriptive historical facts to create a story that ebbs and flows as waves on an ocean. It is engaging and intriguing to be brought back in time for such an event, in such a personal way.

David M. Quinn was born in Tennessee and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. His passion for genealogy led him to uncover remarkable stories within his family history. He shares the story of his great, great uncle Michael Quinn, in the historical novel, It May Be Forever - An Irish Rebel on the American Frontier, published in 2005.

In the annual USA Book News competition, Leviathan’s Master is a 2009 Award-Winning Finalist in the Historical Fiction category of the National Best Books Awards.

Leviathan’s Master is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in seafaring tales. It is gripping.

Midwest Book Review/Able Greenspan
“The best stories have basis in reality. ‘Leviathan’s Master: The Wreck of the World’s Largest Sailing Ship” is drawn from the history of the T.W. Lawson, dramatized and fictionalized by David M. Quinn drawing on his great uncle’s stories. The T. W. Lawson was the biggest oil tanker of its time, and Captain Dow was faced with guiding it across the Atlantic. But Mother Nature never goes quietly into the night. ‘Leviathan’s Master’ is quite the naval novel adventure, and is worth the read.”

Readers Favorite.Com
David Quinn has developed an historical accounting that grabs the reader and relates history while also conveying the human emotional elements that surely accompanied the actual event.

The story details the doomed voyage of the seven-masted sailing ship The Thomas W. Lawson on its maiden Atlantic crossing in the winter of 1907. The ship was reported as unstable but Captain George Dow, the maternal great-great uncle of the author, decides his mastery of previous ships will stand him in good stead with the Lawson. He then discovers that nature has its own agenda for the ship and its crew. The methodical research done in order to write the book serves the reader well, with historical fact interspersed with human interest.

Leviathan's Master is an easy read for sea lovers and land lovers alike. It poses interesting ethical dilemmas as well as thoughtfully presented skills essential to early ship trading.

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