Perfect Storm





Download a Map of the Perfect Storm Landmarks in Gloucester, Mass.


Excerpt from “The Perfect Storm”

“The Andrea Gail has a small refrigerator in the galley and twenty tons of in the hold. The ice keeps the baitfish and groceries from spoiling on the way out and the swordfish from spoiling on the way home. (In a pinch it can even be used to keep a dead crew member fresh: once a desperately-alcoholic old fisherman died on the Hannah Boden, and Linda Greenlaw had to put him down the hole because the Coast Guard refused to fly him out.) Commercial fishing simply wouldn’t be possible without ice. Without diesel engines, maybe; without loran, weather faxes, or hydraulic winches; but not without ice. There is simply no other way to get fresh fish to market. In the old days, Grand Banks fishermen used to run to Newfoundland to salt-dry their catch before heading home, but the coming of the railroads in the 1840s changed all that. Suddenly food could be moved faster than it would spoil, and ice companies sprang up practically overnight to accommodate the new market. They cut ice from ponds in the winter, packed it in sawdust and then sold it to schooners in the summer months. Properly-packed ice lasted so long — and was so valuable – that traders could ship it to India and still make a profit…

Fishing boats still make the same mad dashes for shore they were making 150 years ago, and the smaller boats — the ones that don’t have machines– are still buying it in bulk from Cape Pond Ice, located in a low brick building between Felicia Oil and Parisi Seafoods. In the old days, Cape Pond Ice used to hire men to carve up a local pond with huge ice-saws, but now the ice is made in row upon row of 350-pound blocks, called ”cans.” The cans look like huge versions of the trays in people’s refrigerators. They’re extracted from freezers in the floor, skidded onto elevators, hoisted to the third floor, and dragged down a runway by men wielding huge steel hooks; the men work in a building-sized refrigerator and wear shirts that say, “Cape Pond Ice – The Coolest Guys Around.” The blocks are shoved down a chute into a steel cutting drum, where they jump and rattle in terrible spasms until all 350 pounds have been eaten down to little chips and sprayed through a hose into the hold of a commercial boat outside.”

From “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger. Copyright © 1997 by Sebastian Junger. Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

“The Perfect Storm” Links

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Words from Sebastian Junger, author of the “The Perfect Storm,” about our “Cape Pond Ice” shirts June 20, 1998

sebastian junger

Dear Scott, Steve, Dave, Don, Matt, Benny, & Ed,

It was just great to get the sweatshirt from all you guys. I’ve been so busy with this book tour and with magazine assignments, that I can’t remember if I gave you all a proper thank you. Anyway, here it is. I am wearing the shirt into the ground!

Since you asked, the movie is getting into gear. They haven’t cast it yet, but I’ve talked to the screen writer, who is very good, and the director is also excellent. Let’s hope they do justice to Gloucester.

I look forward to the times when I’m able to make it back to Gloucester, in fact this week is one of those times. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Best wishes,
Sebastian Junger

From Our Guestbook:

Sebastian Junger stopped in here the other day to pick up a few T-shirts. He has in fact worn his old one out (he said it had a big rip in the back – must be from all those trips to the wilds of Afghanistan), plus he wanted one of our youth size T’s for a niece. He had the original style before; this time he chose the “weathered” style. Sebastian was interested to see all the Cape Pond Ice merchandizing going on (an ad is running in Yankee Magazine), but he was more interested in Les Nagy’s great 1988 photo of the real Andrea Gail, and even more interested to hear about the National Geographic “Sea Hunters” program about how they believe they’ve found the wreck of the Andrea Gail off Sable Island, and sent a mini-sub down to look at it. That program is scheduled to air in March, according to our local Gloucester contacts.

— Scott Memhard, Cape Pond Co. (Gloucester, MA)

02/27/02 “Hey Scott – It was great to see you the other day. My sister loved the little Cape Pond Ice t-shirt for my niece (she’s too young to have an opinion on it.) I will be happy to send a t-shirt [from Sebastian Junger’s New York City bar ”the Half Knight”], and thanks again for yours. Also, I spoke with National Geographic and it was their opinion that its not the Andrea Gail, though who knows. I’ll stop by next time I’m in town.”
Best, Sebastian (Junger)