Hove Down on Georges Bank 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 was not forecast by the weather bureau. 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. This included the F/V Midnight Sun, a New Bedford scalloper with her eleven-man crew.
Captain Louis Doucette, Jr., was aboard the F/V 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 1938 Hurricane, he always said this storm was the worst heavy weather event 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 Shoals and Georges Shoal. This part of the bank, 120 miles east of Cape Cod, has charted points that are 9-feet deep under normal conditions, and three-feet deep in storm conditions. The F/V Venus required 10-feet 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, but for the skill and experience of the mariners involved, and the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.
This book highlights the skill, courage, and tenacity of the men who are called New Bedford Fishermen.
Paul Doucette was born and raised in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the youngest son of Captain Louis Doucette, Jr., a New Bedford fisherman whose career spanned 54-years. His grandfather, Captain Louis Doucette, Sr., was one of the earliest proponents of the movement from dory fishing to trawling, a change which catapulted New Bedford to fishing prominence. His grandfather was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Extraordinary Heroism for his role in the famous rescue of the crew of the six-masted schooner, the Mertie B. Crowley, at Wasque Shoals, on the southeast side of Martha’s Vineyard in 1910. His great grandfather, Amable Doucette, was lost at sea while dory fishing on Georges Bank in 1880. His family has had a long association with fishing on Georges Bank.