“Fraught with Hazard” — The Heroic Saga of Shipwrecked Armada Survivors in Ireland

Fraught with Hazard by Paul Altrocchi and his late mother Julia Cooley Altrocchi is a wonderful novel based on the true personal account of Francisco Cuellar of the Spanish Armada, who managed to survive after the English victory in 1588 and his ship rounded Scotland only to be wrecked on the rocky coast of Ireland. Following his many escapes from deadly peril, Captain Cuellar found his way to the Low Countries and, from his lodgings at Antwerp, wrote down the details of his adventures in a letter to Philip II of Spain – an amazing document that was discovered in Madrid in 1885, where it was published in Spanish.  An English translation followed in 1897, fully describing the tragedy of the Armada through Cuellar’s eyes.

In 1962 Ms. Altrocchi completed the version of her novelization but couldn’t get it published.  Paul Altrocchi inherited the manuscript and, after a fifty-year delay, he spent three years meticulously editing the work, changing the beginning and end, adding new chapters, cutting out others, and blending the writing styles of the two authors.  Alexander Waugh recently described Fraught With Hazard as “historical writing at its brightest, liveliest and very best.”

Paul’s version of this stunning and little-known factual saga is 255 pages long and you will find it difficult to put down.  The basic story and incidents remain true to the original chronicle of 1589.  “Through his bravery, resilience and ultimate deliverance,” the Altrocchis write, “Captain Cuellar deserves to take his place among the dragon-slayers and magnificent wanderers of history.”

Fraught With Hazard is available through Amazon.com Books.  I’ll read it all over again, but, please, Hollywood, make the movie!

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