The Lost Boys of Montauk: The True Story of the Wind Blown, Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind - book cover
  • Publisher : Gallery Books
  • Published : 25 May 2021
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 198210323X
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982103231
  • Language : English

The Lost Boys of Montauk: The True Story of the Wind Blown, Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind

An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as "an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story."

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.

The story itself is a universal tale of family and brotherhood; it's about what happens when the dreams and ambitions of affluent and working-class families collide. Captivating and powerful, The Lost Boys of Montauk explores one of the most important questions we face as humans: how do memories of the dead inform the lives of those left behind?

Editorial Reviews

"A memorable lost-at-sea narrative focusing on a Montauk-based commercial fishing boat... well-documented, page-turning ... a no-brainer for fans of The Perfect Storm and similar books. A riveting man-vs.-nature story and compelling tribute to those who perished."-Kirkus (starred review)

"Deeply reported and moving...A memorable portrait of loss."-Publishers Weekly

"Readers fascinated by stories of shipwreck such as Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm may be similarly intrigued by this sad tale." -Booklist

"Fairbanks deftly handles the story, with an eye for detail and page-turning prose. An evocative, well-researched, and compelling account, this highly recommended book will stay with readers past the last page." -Library Journal (starred review)

"A sweeping, and often devastating, portrait of a community on the brink of transformation, and of how grief can ricochet across generations." -Vanity Fair

"[A] must-read."-Town & Country

"In 1984, commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor in a routine voyage with four souls aboard, ran into a nor'easter, and never returned. This thoughtful account explores the tragedy at sea and the repercussions for those left behind." -USA Today

"A remarkable feat of reporting… The Lost Boys of Montauk is a poignant tale of how an incident nearly 40 years old can still reverberate in a town much changed by money but not by memory." -Air Mail

"A relentlessly reported page-turner about the collision of man and nature on the ocean and the collateral damage back on land."-Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling author of Dodge City and Tombstone

"This extensive and stunningly reported true story of a tragic shipwreck off Montauk is tinged with that rebel late-hippie-era vibe of the late seventies and early eighties. It's about family secrets, romances cut short, the fishing life, and the evolving history of the East End of Long Island, now known as ‘The Hamptons.' It's an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story."-Ron Suskind, bestselling author of Life, Animated

"The Lost Boys of Montauk is riveting. Combining gorgeous prose and exhaustive research, Fairbanks paints a fascinating portrait of a shipwreck and its aftermath. It's a complex tale of class divides in the Hamptons, of grief, passion, memory, and youth. Over the course of the book, we come to know and care deeply for the young men who were lost at sea and for those who live on to tell their story. A must-read."

Readers Top Reviews

I am an avid reader transitioning from fiction to historical based non fiction. I also grew up in the area where the events in this book took place. For these reasons, I ordered the book immediately as soon as I became aware of it. It did not disappoint. I could tell that the author did an exhaustive amount of research that went into this book. In addition there was an excellent review of the cultural, social, and economic history of the East End of Long Island. Some have commented the book jumps around too much and is disorganized. I did not find this to be a problem as different characters and family members were focused on at different times so a neat chronological sequence in the book was not possible. Additionally, the pieces of the story came together for me easily, first the tragedy and then the whole backstory.
It is not just the nature of this story but the telling of it that gripped me. Four men, who lived and died for the water, and of the families they left behind, who, to this day, are still trying to come to terms with what happened during a fateful storm in 1984. Fairbank’s research skills as a former journalist are not only evident but astounding as she shines a light on the history of Long Island’s east end, bringing to life the lure of commercial fishing in the Atlantic and transporting readers to the yet unspoiled shores of Montauk. In this book, the author uncovers what happened when four young men, dedicated to their love of fishing, set out on a weary boat, the Wind Blown, that many people in town thought had seen better days but knew that her captain, Mike, had his heart set on her to provide for his family and connect him with the open waters where he belonged. It is also equal parts focused on how the families and friends remembered and were changed by them. They were a mixed band of brothers – young crewmen, two locals, two summer residents. Mike, the Captain, the young married man with a wife and father to three boys whom he adored, the leader of the pack. Dave, the free-spirited surfer, born into a trust fund lifestyle that he rejected. Michael, not even 20, a dedicated deckhand who was eager to work his way up and the son of a commercial fisherman who also lost his life doing what he loved. And Scott, the youngest, who already proved he was dedicated to the job, that this was his calling. You can feel the pull, an almost tug-of-war between those lost at sea and the family and friends who remain, lost themselves, who know that nothing could have stopped their husband, son, brother, father, friend, from heading out on Wind Blown that stormy day, waiting, still, to welcome them home, to a shower to wash away the smell of the week’s catch, the satisfaction of a job well done, eagerly counting the days until the water calls them back. Just as the waves in the ocean were crashing at extreme heights, there were equally volatile struggles within families of the year-round residents and those who “summered” in Montauk. Fairbanks provides deep insight into both sea and land worlds, dating back to the 1830s when the commuter train began its operation to the island. THE LOST BOYS OF MONTAUK is a tragic and beautifully written story of the lives of four young men and those they left behind, families hoping for a sense of closure, shockwaves reverberating through a generation, an entire town. It is about leadership, camaraderie, and resilience. Running parallel with hardship and dysfunction.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1: The Last Voyage
The Wind Blown sitting in Montauk Harbor.