Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Boys Of Montauk by Amanda M Fairbanks


In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered.

The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk-based fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End’s year-round population. Back then, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, before Wall Street and hedge fund money stormed into town, commercial fishing was the area’s economic lifeblood.

Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds. She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories. And she shines a light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons, as well as the secrets that can haunt families from beyond the grave.


I love the ocean. I grew up constantly surrounded by it and in it. My dad was a sailor until I was 16 years old, and from then he was on the water because he wanted to be. So I found that The Lost Boys of Montauk really resonated with me. It is a book about a boat accident and the crew of four that went down on the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown.

Wind Blown which was skippered bu Mike Steadman went down 120 nautical miles from the Montauk Harbor in March 1984. Along with Steadman were a crew of three. First Mate Dave Connick, and two deckhands Michael Vigilant and Scott Clarke.

The author, Amanda Fairbanks interviewed friends and family members of each of the crew members. You learn about the lives they lived and how they came to be aboard the 65 ft trawler. Of course, there is very little about the actual wreck, no one on board survived to tell what really happened. There is speculation. Several people said the boat wasn't sea worthy enough to hold up against the storm that hit the east coast that day, and that the communications ( weather reports etc... ) were bad, and then just the sheer force of this storm, making it rough on any boat out to sea that day.

The book is well researched, you get to know the crew members, however I did question some of the things that Fairbanks wrote about the men. Things I thought that should be left private, things the world just didn't need to know and should have been left private.

The bodies of the crew member were never found and the author did a great job sowing the lasting grief that was felt over the deaths and not having a body to give them closure. One mother refused to believe her son was dead and searched for him until she died. I think the author probably gave some closure to the families with this book, along with the statue that the families erected for the crew. It was a place where they could go and grieve, or to feel close to their lost one. 

I enjoyed this book, but there were slow parts, and I imagine some would find it a tedious read, there are a lot of facts, and as I did, I think many people might go in thinking they would know more about the actual accident. But for me and I hope for the families that were left behind this book is a beautiful memorial to four young men that lost their lives doing what they loved. 


  1. The author definitely accepted a challenging task: writing about an event that's unknowable. You make it sound as if the job was well done.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  2. After finishing this book I sat in my chair and reflected a bit. I do think it was a worthy read and I do believe the author’s research effort is noteworthy. I can’t tell you exactly why but at times the book gave me a feeling that I was reading a very long article in the Sunday New York. Times magazine.

    I do recommend the book and give kudos to the author for delving and reporting all that she uncovered.