09-17 BEL Can Do Model.png

A model of the pilot boat the Can Do which was caught in stormy seas during the Blizzard of 1978. (Courtesy Photo)

BELMONT — The Belmont Historical Society and the New Hampshire Humanities Council will bring the presentation “Ten Hours Until Dawn” by author Michael Tougias to the Corner Meeting House on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m.

The presentation recounts a story of heroism and tragedy during the Blizzard of 1978. Frank Quirk Jr., captain of the pilot boat Can Do out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, answered a distress call, leading his four-man crew into the heart of the storm. They were all volunteers doing something they’d done many times before: attempting to aid fellow sailors in trouble.

A Greek tanker was apparently foundering on Salem Sound, and its would-be rescuer, a Coast Guard motor life boat, was also in trouble. Both would survive, but as the fury of the storm increased, the Can Do would be lost with all five crewmen on board.

The presentation will recount what happened on that night when the seas were producing monstrous waves of 40 feet and the wind was screaming at 100 miles per hour. Using slides of the boats and the men involved, along with photos of the storm, Tougias will follow the events of that night when many lives hung in the balance.

Tougias, born in Massachusetts, is a graduate of St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He is a lecturer and award-winning author of 20 nonfiction books published by Simon and Schuster.

Refreshments will be served and handicapped parking is available.

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