On Saturday, April 6, historian, filmmaker and author Kevin P. Duffus will present a lecture about his latest book, “Into the Burning Sea: the 1918 Mirlo Rescue,” at the Paul Keller Meeting Hall at the Town of Duck.
The event, which is at 5 p.m., is part of the Bias Speaker Series, and is sponsored by the Town of Duck, and Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books.
Through his presentation, Duffus takes his audience on board the British tanker Mirlo, which was loaded with nearly 300,000 gallons of aviation fuel when it was torpedoed five miles east of Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station on Aug. 16, 1918. Using previously unpublished eyewitness testimony, Duffus recreates the desperate struggle of 51 panicked sailors as they tried to escape their exploding and burning ship. From his acclaimed literary non-fiction account, Duffus describes the ordeal endured by six courageous Coast Guardsmen as they were tossed by waves of fire in a small motor lifeboat, amid a hellish and deadly inferno of explosions and toxic fumes while navigating a confusing maze of swirling black smoke to rescue strangers in distress.
Duffus has published four books and produced four documentary films on various maritime history topics, including shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the devastating German U-boat attacks off our coast in 1942.
In 2002, Duffus solved the long-standing mystery of the missing 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fresnel lens, once described by Lighthouse Digest magazine as one of the great-unsolved mysteries of American lighthouse history.
The amazing history and odyssey of the lens is told in Duffus’ book, “The Lost Light — A Civil War Mystery.”
His book, “Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks” features more than 250 photographs of past and present shipwrecks and wreck artifacts, along with GPS locations and directions to dozens of wreck sites. The book includes new research on historic sites altered by inlet migration and a tribute to the forgotten heroes of the islands.
Duffus published “The Last Days of Blackbeard the Pirate,” a detailed examination of the famous seafaring rogue’s final six months in North Carolina. The controversial book presents stunning contradictions to traditional historical accounts about Black Beard’s origins, his travels and motivations as a pirate, his death, and the identity and fate of his most trusted crewmembers.
In 2012, Duffus published “War Zone," which spotlights German U-boat attacks off the North Carolina coast during WWII.
Duffus begins his Outer Banks tour on Friday, April 5, with a book signing at Downtown Books, 105 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo.
The event, which is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., is part of the First Friday in Manteo.
The Rum Boys from Outer Banks Distillery will be on hand with their Kill Devil Rum tasting table. The tasting coincides with the release of the latest in the distillery’s aged rum Shipwreck Series. The aged rum, which is named after the Mirlo, goes on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 6.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, Duffus will present his lecture at the Dare County Arts Council in Manteo.
All events are free and open to the public.