Michael Tougias will give a slide presentation on his new book “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue” Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at Waldoboro Public Library, 958 Main St./Route 220. The free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and is open to the public.

On Feb. 18, 1952, an astonishing maritime event began when a ferocious nor’easter split in half a 500-foot long oil tanker, the Pendleton, approximately one mile off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. Incredibly, just 20 miles away, a second oil tanker, the Fort Mercer, also split in half. On both fractured tankers, men were trapped on the severed bows and sterns and all four sections were sinking in 60-foot seas. Thus began a life and death drama of survival, heroism and a series of tragic mistakes. Of the 84 seamen aboard the tankers, 70 would be rescued and 14 would lose their lives.

Tougias, co-author of “The Finest Hours,” will use slides of the storm, the sinking tankers, the rescues, the victims, the survivors and the heroes to tell the story of this historic event. He will describe the harrowing attempts to rescue the seamen, focusing on four young Coast Guardsmen who must overcome insurmountable odds to save the lives of 32 crewmen stranded aboard the stern of the Pendleton. Standing between the men and their mission were towering waves that reached 70 feet, blinding snow and one of the most dangerous shoals in the world, the dreaded Chatham Bar. The waters along the outer arm of Cape Cod are called “the graveyard of the Atlantic” for good reason, and this rescue defied all odds.

Tougais said he enjoys doing these programs because he likes to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves “What would I have done?”

“I don’t like to do author readings because I think they are boring, but with a slide presentation, the viewer can visually relive the adventure. This event was — and still is — the greatest and most daring sea rescue ever performed by the Coast Guard, and it happened right here off the New England coast. I felt this episode of heroism and tragedy needed to be told in its entirety because it’s an important piece of overlooked history,” he said.

“The Finest Hours” has been the No. 4 bestselling non-fiction book in New England according to the New England Booksellers Association. Tougias is the author of 18 books including “Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea”; and “Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do During the Blizzard of ’78,” which received an Editor’s Choice Selection from the American Library Association as one of its top books of the year.

Tougias’ books will be available for purchase and signing (cash or checks only). For more information, call 832-4484 or visit waldoborolibrary.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.