Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea

Overview

America's only female swordfish boat captain returns with this long- awaited follow-up to the bestselling The Hungry Ocean.

After the exploits recounted in The Perfect Storm and The Hungry Ocean that made her a sensation, Linda Greenlaw took a ten- year hiatus from blue-water fishing. When an old friend offered her a captaincy on his swordboat, Greenlaw ditched her mounting bills and headed for the sea. Full of adventure and thought-provoking reflection, Seaworthy recounts her ...

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Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea

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Overview

America's only female swordfish boat captain returns with this long- awaited follow-up to the bestselling The Hungry Ocean.

After the exploits recounted in The Perfect Storm and The Hungry Ocean that made her a sensation, Linda Greenlaw took a ten- year hiatus from blue-water fishing. When an old friend offered her a captaincy on his swordboat, Greenlaw ditched her mounting bills and headed for the sea. Full of adventure and thought-provoking reflection, Seaworthy recounts her return to the beautiful and deadly Grand Banks -from the nuances of reading weather and the complexities of longline fishing to the surprise of landing in jail for crossing into Canadian waters. The result is both a wild ride and a memorable look at one woman's struggle to define her own limits.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After a 10-year hiatus from blue-water fishing, Greenlaw (Hungry Ocean) went cautiously to sea, seeking a payday and perspective on her life. Thanks to The Perfect Storm phenomenon (both book and film), she was celebrated as America’s only female swordfish boat captain. She was now also a mother and an author who relished a new challenge, traveling 1,000 miles from her Maine home with an eager crew of four guys—three of them experienced sailing buddies—looking for swordfish on the 63-foot, six-and-a-half-knot steel boat Seahawk on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It was a 52-day trip—and a sensational misadventure. Nearly everything that could go wrong, did, including her arrest for illegally fishing in Canadian waters. Greenlaw chronicles it all—a busted engine, a malfunctioning ice machine, squirrelly technology—with an absorbing mix of nautical expertise and self-deprecation. After inspecting the Seahawk, Greenlaw calls it rough, but stable and capable. Then she writes, “Although I was referring to the boat, I couldn’t help thinking the same could be said of her captain.” From mishaps to fish tales, Greenlaw keeps her narrative suspenseful. Between bad luck and self-doubt, she moves from experience to wisdom, guiding both crew and readers on a voyage of self-affirmation. (June)
Publishers Weekly
After a 10-year hiatus from blue-water fishing, Greenlaw (Hungry Ocean) went cautiously to sea, seeking a payday and perspective on her life. Thanks to The Perfect Storm phenomenon (both book and film), she was celebrated as America’s only female swordfish boat captain. She was now also a mother and an author who relished a new challenge, traveling 1,000 miles from her Maine home with an eager crew of four guys—three of them experienced sailing buddies—looking for swordfish on the 63-foot, six-and-a-half–knot steel boat Seahawk on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It was a 52-day trip—and a sensational misadventure. Nearly everything that could go wrong, did, including her arrest for illegally fishing in Canadian waters. Greenlaw chronicles it all—a busted engine, a malfunctioning ice machine, squirrelly technology—with an absorbing mix of nautical expertise and self-deprecation. After inspecting the Seahawk, Greenlaw calls it rough, but stable and capable. Then she writes, “Although I was referring to the boat, I couldn’t help thinking the same could be said of her captain.” From mishaps to fish tales, Greenlaw keeps her narrative suspenseful. Between bad luck and self-doubt, she moves from experience to wisdom, guiding both crew and readers on a voyage of self-affirmation. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Greenlaw (Fisherman's Bend, 2007, etc.) returns to the Grand Banks in search of swordfish. Writing bestsellers and pulling lobster traps out of the bay off her island home in Maine couldn't "fill the void left in the absence of true, hardy, saltwater adventure," so when opportunity knocked to skipper a swordfishing longliner to the blue water, Greenlaw jumped. She landed on the Seahawk, a vessel of such rank dilapidation the crew soon rechristened it the Shithawk. The crew also had varying degrees of mechanical problems-kidney stones, a severed thumb-but the author draws them affectionately as a stalwart bunch, who gravitate toward museums and Internet cafes during shore time. It's a pleasure to be out once more on the water with Greenlaw, like hooking up again with a favorite fishing guide. Readers may have heard a few of the stories before, but the author is such an unvarnished old hand, they're fun even in the retelling. Who can tire of sharks gnashing and thrashing around on a confined deck, or the rhythmic beauty of laying out 30 miles of line baited with 800 hooks, or heavy weather on a small boat in the big blue? The dialogue can be wooden at times, and there is a certain ripeness to some of the passages-"the diving night splashed light onto the opposite horizon, which swam like spawning salmon up the riverlike sky"-but Greenlaw speaks with unquestionable authority when fashioning the salty atmosphere of swordfishing life. A vanishing slice of life caught with ardor and freshness. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky/Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670021925
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.68 (w) x 5.86 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda  Greenlaw

Linda Greenlaw, America’s only female swordfish boat captain, was featured in the book and film The Perfect Storm. She has written three New York Times bestselling nonfiction books about life as a commercial fisherman as well as a cookbook and two mysteries. She lives on Isle au Haut, off the coast of Maine.

Biography

Growing up on coastal Maine, Linda Greenlaw was entranced by the ocean and everything that swam in it. When other kids got their first 10-speed bicycles, she got her first 10-horsepower outboard. Later, Greenlaw literally sailed her way through college, spending her summers as a cook and deck hand on a swordfishing boat. After graduating from Colby College with a double major in English and government, Greenlaw returned to the sailor's life, becoming a ship captain when she was in her 20s and earning a reputation as "one of the best swordboat captains, period, on the East Coast" (in the words of Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger).

For over 15 years, this remarkable achievement went generally unremarked-upon. Then came Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, the true story of the fishing boat Andrea Gail, which disappeared in a hurricane at sea in October of 1991. Greenlaw was captain of the Andrea Gail's sister ship, the Hannah Boden, which was also at sea during the fateful storm. Though Greenlaw is only a minor figure in Junger's book, readers were intrigued by the idea of a woman who'd made it to the top in a heavily male-dominated -- and highly dangerous -- profession.

Publishers were intrigued, too, and several of them approached Greenlaw with offers for a book about her experiences. At first she turned them down, saying she could make more money actually fishing for a season than writing about fishing. But at last she decided to give it a try, and her readers are glad she did. Her book The Hungry Ocean is a riveting look at the day-to-day operations of a large commercial fishing boat, complete with storms, sharks and, on one grim occasion, a dead crew member in the fish hold. In the great fisherman tradition, The Hungry Ocean is also a ripping good story, one The New York Times Book Review declared a "triumph."

Greenlaw agreed to write her first book in part because she wanted to lead a settled existence for a while, perhaps get married and start a family. In her second book, The Lobster Chronicles, she describes trading the adventurous life of an offshore swordboat captain for the comparatively quiet business of trapping lobsters in Penobscot Bay. As she reconnects with her roots on the tiny Isle au Haut ("forty-seven full-time residents, half of whom I am related to in one way or another"), she deals with nosy neighbors, a dearth of available men, and recalcitrant crustaceans who refuse to crawl into her traps. She also evokes a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency that her readers might well envy: Her island has no Kmart ("or any other mart"), no Starbucks, no cable TV. "Straightforward storytelling and captivating reading: satisfying as a Maine lobster dinner," wrote Kirkus Reviews.

So far, Greenlaw is shaping up to be as talented a writer as she is a fisherman (she objects strenuously to being called a "fisherwoman"). Possibly the only woman ever to captain a swordfishing boat, she has insisted that being a female captain is an asset: "No self-respecting fisherman wants to be outdone by a woman, even if it kills him." Perhaps her books will inspire other female fishermen to join the fray.

Good To Know

In her years as a swordboat captain, Greenlaw's biggest single swordfish was a 635-pound fish caught in the Carribean, according to a USA Today chat with the author. Her largest total load in one trip was 62,000 pounds.

In a TV interview with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN, Greenlaw said she's "one of the only people probably on the planet who does not own a cell phone. But I have a VHF radio."

In the movie version of The Perfect Storm, Linda Greenlaw was played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

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    1. Hometown:
      Isle au Haut, Maine
    1. Education:
      B.A., Colby College, 1983

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The sea never settles down

    "Darkness waded in cautiously and headed west. Hesitating waist-deep, then plunging into the murky chill, the diving night splashed light onto the opposite horizon, which swam like spawning salmon up the riverlike sky. The sun hated as if it were a baby chick, pecking from within the shell until fully risen, yellow and warm, and as unsure as I was...after all, the sun starts anew every day. This could well be my last chance...and I would make the most of it."


    Linda Greenlaw's latest book, Seaworthy, is the story of a female Swordboat captain. I saw the title and thought, "a woman captaining a boat" and "swordfish"? How interesting could that be? But her picture on the cover looks like a capable outgoing woman with an engaging smile and, being a capable outgoing woman with an engaging smile myself, I decided to check this out .

    It had been ten years since Linda's last swordfishing endeavor, and she was eager to immerse herself in life at sea reliving good memories, but also apprehensive that her body might not be up to the strenuous effort involved. She picked her crew of four (to whom the book is dedicated) and found herself aboard a rusty bucket called the Seahawk. Whenever anything broke down, which occurred almost daily, the crew called it the S***hawk behind her back. "How many times did I hear Tim say, 'It's fixed. I think we're okay now'? His words soon became known as the kiss of death, in the few moments that we relaxed, we sat and waited for the next thing to break, leak, or malfunction...I didn't have the energy to fly off the handle."

    "Fortunately, when things are incredibly bad at sea, humor reigns. I was thankful and relieved to hear the men joking around...it appeared I had a crew full of class clowns. They kept working and laughing."

    This is an engrossing account of that trip which found her towed into Sambro, Nova Scotia for engine work before they even reached the fishing area. Soon after, having set out her first thirty-mile set of 800 hooks, she was arrested, handcuffed, and then taken before a judge in St John, Newfoundland for inadvertantly fishing Canadian waters.

    In retrospect, Linda realizes that there is a difference in her thinkings as a young person and now as one who is older; there are things we can fight and change and other things we just have to suck up and endure.

    "...I steered the Seahawk through the sheer-faced cliffs that protect the port...I stared down Newfoundland. Not blinking was, for me, a small yet palpable victory in a sea of seeming random defeats."

    I enjoyed Linda's descriptions of the fishing; putting out beepers and lines, and not pulling the thirty-mile line toward them but rather moving the boat forward slowly to keep pace with the men hauling in the lines. The reader is right there with her as she checks the weather, the water temperature (swordfish like it cold), and the ocean currents that converge for the best fishing. Reading this felt like I was on a vacation to a place I had never visited before. Greenlaw's name may be familiar, as she also wrote The Hungry Ocean and The Lobster Chronicles.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    Really?

    I'm sorry but $18.99 for a Nook book?? Never going to spend that on a Nook book - a hardbound maybe but a digital book? Are they retarded?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2010

    Better be into commercial long lining if you read this book

    Although I enjoyed reading this book, I thought Ms Greenlaw very over the top in her attempt to create a warrior man/woman against the beast experience. She is a commercial long line Captain of a fishing boat. She harvests majestic fish for human consumption. She takes the time to make note that harpooning fish is the really exciting part of commercial long lining. Her attempt to correlate monogamous creatures following there mates that have been hooked with suicide was ridiculous. I can fully appreciate that there exist a large portion of our society that really digs sport hunting and fishing. But tales of commercial Harvesting..Hey I'm the knucklehead that bought the book.

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    another voyage with an utterly unique author

    It's fascinating to relive the TV moments from "Swords" through the eyes of Captain Linda Greenlaw. In her latest memoir, she tells of the endless string of sharks, the green wave that almost sent a man overboard, and her time in jail for accidentally fishing in Canadian waters. Greenlaw and her able crew make the most of a boat that is cursed with shoddy equipment and mechanical failures. While she doesn't win the swordfishing competition, this time, she hits home with her eloquent memoir. No one can spin a maritime tale as brilliantly as Greenlaw, a Colby College English major and lifetime fisherman, and her passion, courage, and determination are apparent in every word.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    Colby College graduate writes a good book

    6-7-2010 I have read all of the books Linda Greenlaw has written. Not being a person of in depth knowledge of the profession of Sword fishing etc i still read on. My suggestion that would have made the book even better would be to have included pictures of the vessel, pictures of taking fish on board etc. A lot of the terminology and language used would not of been understandable to the average reader, but understandable to a person more closley related to the proffesion of fishing and working with people related to fishing. i guess what i am attempting to say is that pictures would have made a lot of the language more understandable to the average reader, make sense I hope.

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