There’s a memorial in Montauk dedicated to those who lost their life at sea—an unavoidable reality in a town dedicated to the fishing industry. On July 24, 2013, a local fisherman, John Aldridge, almost became the next name listed on that memorial when he fell off his boat, the Anna Mary, and into the Atlantic. A new book by Aldridge and Anthony “Little Anthony” Sosinski, A Speck in the Sea: A Story of Survival and Rescue (Weinstein Books, $27), allows readers a glimpse into the events of that day, depicting Aldridge’s struggle to stay alive, while also sharing the stories of the United States Coast Guard, who were ultimately responsible for Aldridge’s rescue, and the family and community Aldridge comes from, none of whom gave up until he was found.
Aldridge was incredibly, almost impossibly, logical and reflective while in the water, as only a seasoned fisherman could be. Aldridge tells his story by recounting the regrets he has, while also detailing the steps he took to keep from losing hope and consciousness. He finds ways to survive in a situation in which most could not, evident by the stories of others who died and the memorial dedicated to them. Throughout his time at sea, the love Aldridge has for his family brings him peace and motivation to keep going, comforting the reader as well during the suspenseful situations he faces.
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The story switches between several perspectives, one of them “Little Anthony” Sosinski’s, who was working the boat with Aldridge, and who takes action once he realizes Aldridge is no longer aboard the Anna Mary with him. As Sosinski struggles to stay sane in a time of crisis, he uses his knowledge to assist the Coast Guard in the rescue mission and becomes a heroic figure. Sosinski reflects upon memories while taking command of the situation, and the strong bond he and Aldridge share creates a powerful and touching moment once they are reunited.
The book also follows different members of the Coast Guard who are forced to make difficult decisions based on estimations and instinct. The way these decisions are made, with precision and expertise, gives readers an education on what it’s like to be a part of this branch of the military. But their story is not just about business. Their compassion for those most impacted by the event comes through to the reader as potently as their professionalism.
The emotions of Aldridge’s family and the community, and the hope they all cling to, are palpable and inspiring. Aldridge’s family brings another dimension to the story, as memories are reflected upon, which is how the character of Aldridge and the complexity of his different relationships are fully developed. The community in Montauk, particularly the community of fishermen, come together as panic sweeps through town. Many locals volunteer to aid in the search, not even hesitating before heading out to sea. The selflessness and generosity depicted shows the real Montauk. Most think of “The End” as a summer destination for the party animals, but to many it’s home. The history of the area is told in this book both through facts and the relationship people have to it, making part of this story a love letter to Montauk itself.
A Speck in the Sea is not just about a man lost in the Atlantic. It’s an inspiring story of hope, strength and the love people have for their community. In this tale of heroism and survival, readers will find pieces of themselves and the people they love as they see a family and community brought together by near tragedy. The book is readable and touching, as well as educational. Though the book alone is worthy of a widespread audience, the related film, in development by The Weinstein Company, is sure to create further interest in the story of Aldridge’s survival and rescue.
Stop by your local bookstore today and pick up a copy of A Speck in the Sea.