Neptune’s Nor’easter – November 14-16, 1962
Neptune’s Nor’easter, is the story of a severe storm which struck the Western North Atlantic, on November 14th and 15th, in 1962. This storm was unexpected, and the United States Weather Bureau did not forecast that it was coming. This unknown nor’easter generated 105-mph winds from a low pressure of 968-millibars, with seas reaching 60-feet in height. It reached out 1,000-miles from its’ center, and in 48-hours it caused the sinking of six ships and resulted in the death of thirty-six seamen. These losses include the fishing vessel Midnight Sun, a New Bedford scalloper, and her eleven-man crew.
Captain Louis Doucette, Jr., was aboard the fishing vessel Venus in this storm and was fishing on the Northern Edge of Georges Bank. Although he had weathered three named hurricanes at sea, including the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, and numerous nor’easters and other gales in his 50-year career, he always said this storm was the worst heavy weather event that he ever experienced, and it was the only time that he thought he would be lost at sea. During this storm, the F/V Venus, a 74-foot dragger, was “Hove Down” (capsized) in the most dangerous part of Georges Bank, the area between the Cultivator Shoal and Georges Shoal. This part of Georges Bank, 120-miles east of Cape Cod, has charted points that are nine-feet deep under normal conditions, and three-feet deep in storm conditions. The F/V Venus required ten-feet of water to float. The book begins and pivots around the recollections of Captain Doucette, but it also encompasses the stories of the other boats and ships that were caught unaware by this monster storm. The death toll could have easily exceeded 200-men and 21-ships, but for the skill and experience of the mariners involved, and the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy. Today, this storm would be defined by meteorologists as an Extratropical Cyclone with Explosive Cyclogenesis, or in the newly popular definition, as a “Bombogenesis Storm.”
This book highlights the skill, courage, and tenacity of the men who are called;
New Bedford Fishermen.