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The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey (edition 2000)

by Linda Greenlaw

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8432110,689 (3.7)31
Member:JechtShot
Title:The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey
Authors:Linda Greenlaw
Info:Hyperion (2000), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:2013 Challenge, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Non Fiction, Fishing

Work details

The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey by Linda Greenlaw

  1. 00
    Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic by Redmond O'Hanlon (ten_floors_up)
    ten_floors_up: Suggested as a contrast, rather than as a companion piece. "Trawler" describes a commercial fishing voyage seen from a writer's perspective below deck. The trip in question takes place on the other side of the Atlantic, and describes quite different fishing methods and quarry.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I wish I liked the Linda Greenlaw portrayed here more than ended up liking her. The book is fair, but I don't fault her for that. At the time she wrote this, she was simply not a writer. And for someone who hasn't written much, this book is clear, practical, straightforward, unromantic (except for certain awkward moments, where such romanticism seemed forced). I admire her attitude and her toughness as a person, but I simply did not like this book, despite being a fiend for all literature nautical in nature. First, I simply could not get over the fact that her response to a seething, ugly racist on her crew was silence. Not just once, but several times. He verbally attacked a black man who was also on the crew--and who, it appears by the end of the book, is the most able crewman aboard. He calls him a nigger and a "porch monkey" and Linda has very little to say about this. She takes great care to let us know this young racist is a good kid and a good crewman. He'll settle down once we're fishing, she tells the reader. Huh? Just as I reluctantly buy into this, he makes a noose right in front of her and muses about lynching his fellow crewman. Again, there is no response. I was aghast. She's the captain. She has no problem later in the book ripping another crewman a new one because he mentioned over radio the fact that the boat had had a fantastic day of fishing (she didn't want other captain's to overhear the transmission and then try to encroach on her berth). In fact, she rips him, acidly, for a full day. However, she has nothing to say to Carl, who calls a fellow crewman a porch monkey, a nigger, and who mentions in her presence that he'd like to "lynch" him? Because she spends so much time talking about crew morale, about how important their states of collective mind are, I don't see any compelling reason why she handled this the way she did. And I found it very hard to get back on track after reading those scenes. No, a commercial boat is not going to be the f-ing Rainbow Coalition. Linda's silence in the fact of this crap was bad enough, but when she tried then to tell the reader that this young man was one of the best crewmen she'd ever worked with, I was done here.

Of course, I finished the book (I always do) and found some interesting parts to distract me from this. But then we get to the part where a swordfish is stabbed, tied to the stern, and lit on fire, just to "change our luck." (Disturbingly, the very few negative reviews of this book I've read on Goodreads have only mentioned reviewers' disgust with the swordfish scene, not a peep about the creepy way Greenlaw ignored the vile attacks on her best crewman).

Again, I fully realize that the sea is not romantic, not to a commercial fisherman. It's the most difficult, dangerous job for a reason, and there is no luxury aboard of being able to examine your philosophies when you're in the midst of it. However, there was plenty of time for reflection by the time Greenlaw wrote this. To her credit, she included the ugliness of Carl's treatment of Peter, but she did not address it. It seemed to be included only to add color.

Gah. I hate that I don't like this book, because two authors I admire immensely--Sebastian Junger and Douglas Whynott--both praised this account. Sigh. This has been the summer of Hating Books Everyone Else Loves. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
Review: The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw.

This is not “The Perfect Storm” which was amazing but more on the technical aspect of the fishing journey where Linda Greenlaw’s book is more of a narrative style of an
exceptional swordfish catch and a wonderfully diverse crew as they struggle through the daily highs and lows of making a living at sea. As the reader I empathize with the fishermen of the story as they dealt with excruciatingly many hours a day at sea adjusting to personality conflicts and the difficulties of living in a small confined space in a dangerous and lonely career and being overpowered by emotions desperately wanting to go home after many days at sea. Greenlaw captures the depth of the crew’s mindset creating a detail story of what it’s like doing a tough job and keeping the flow and energy going because some on them know their families are at home and counting on them to bring home the money.

This was their last of a four week swordfish expedition in this area before winter would settle in. Greenlaw describes at length the supplies needed and the work that had to be done to prepare for the ocean unpredictable weather. She needed over 12.000 pounds of bait and $4,000 worth of groceries loaded on board along with thousands of hook-and leaders sets to be crafted by the crew while at sea, which when done they needed to be attached to a 40-odd miles of line played out every single night once they commend to fishing for the swordfish none stop until the hold of the boat was full.

Once out in the vast ocean Linda Greenlaw would worry about the readings of the gauges as they steamed northwest and keeping track of the logistics on temperatures of different levels of water, currents, and watching other competing boats crowding in the space she has chosen to set her fishing lines over a prospected forty miles average area. Setting in the back of her mind she also needed to keep track of her crew dynamics, such as their health, their lacking in performance, and settling any arguments or racist attitudes that may occur in such an intrusive confined space. In other words she needed to keep her crew happy…!

Linda Greenlaw is one of the most successful swordfish captains and after reading her book the reader can certainly know that Linda loves her work. The boat she is captain of is the Hannah Boden the sister ship to “The Andrea Gail”. This is a wonderful story with descriptive beauty and dialogue along with many aspects of survival, marine data, weather information, emotional feelings-good and bad, the way the crew interacted, and acknowledging the happiness of the crew as they were headed home….
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Covering the trajectory of one full fishing trip, and intermixed with memorable (often disastrous) moments from other trips, Greenlaw's work is both honest and fascinating. From concerns about crewing a swordfish boat to the day-to-day actions and reactions of a captain of the same, the work maneuvers around a world that most readers will find entirely unfamiliar, and it does so with both humor and humanity in mind. By balancing between this fishing world and the social world of a nearly month-long trip built for swordfish and six very different individuals on a relatively small boat, Greenlaw moves the narrative at a fast pace.

Whether you're interested in fishing or not, this really is a marvelous look into a world that, for most of us, is simply foreign and all but unimaginable. Greenlaw makes it wonderfully real in this quick-moving memoir. If you love the ocean or, very simply, love a good story, let alone the science of fishing, you might very well find this worth your time.

Recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Aug 30, 2014 |
Greenlaw is a fisherman — not fisherwoman, as she carefully explains. “ ‘I hate the term, and can never understand why people think I would be offended to be called a fisherman . . . . Fisherwoman isn’t even a word. A fisherman is defined as “one whose employment is to catch fish”. . . . People, women in particular, are generally disappointed when they learn that I have not suffered unduly from being the only woman in what they perceive to be a man’s world. I might be thick-skinned — or just too damn busy to worry about what others might think of me.’ ”
And busy is an understatement. Sebastian Junger made Linda famous in The Perfect Storm — a wonderful book — when he described her simply as the best swordfisherman, period. This book resulted after friends persuaded her to write of her own experiences — the Andrea Gail, lost in the huge storm described in Junger’s book, was the Hannah Boden’s sister ship. Greenlaw writes in fascinating detail of what a trip is like as captain of the Hannah Boden. It’s mind-numbing fatigue, once they reach the fishing grounds, with the crew lucky to catch a couple hours of sleep at night during the fishing. The lines are huge, miles and miles of hooks with chemical light sticks that are attached because they seem to attract fish, with thousands of hooks that have to be baited individually by hand.
The pay can be good — if the catch is great. But there’s no guarantee. Each member of the crew works on shares after expenses. No benefits, no union, but lots of hazard. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is the real life story of Linda Greenlaw who captains a commercial fishing boat fishing for swordfish. It’s an interesting, sometimes funny, story describing the demands on stamina, being prepared, ups and downs with crews, technical knowledge of ships, oceans, weather, and dealing with the whims of mother nature. ( )
  gaylebutz | Sep 10, 2013 |
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Epigraph
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, And the firm soil win of the watery main, Increasing store with loss, and loss with store. SHAKESPEARE, SONNET 64
Dedication
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Dieses Buch widme ich den drei Männern, die ein sinkendes Schiff bis zuletzt nicht verlassen haben:
Robert H. Brown
W. Alden Leeman
James S. Greenlaw
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It was very early in the morning, very late in the month of August.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Greenlaw, Linda, 1960-
Swordfish fishing>
Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador>
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786885416, Paperback)

The term fisherwoman does not exactly roll trippingly off the tongue, and Linda Greenlaw, the world's only female swordfish boat captain, isn't flattered when people insist on calling her one. "I am a woman. I am a fisherman... I am not a fisherwoman, fisherlady, or fishergirl. If anything else, I am a thirty-seven-year-old tomboy. It's a word I have never outgrown." Greenlaw also happens to be one of the most successful fishermen in the Grand Banks commercial fleet, though until the publication of Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, "nobody cared." Greenlaw's boat, the Hannah Boden, was the sister ship to the doomed Andrea Gail, which disappeared in the mother of all storms in 1991 and became the focus of Junger's book. The Hungry Ocean, Greenlaw's account of a monthlong swordfishing trip over 1,000 nautical miles out to sea, tells the story of what happens when things go right--proving, in the process, that every successful voyage is a study in narrowly averted disaster.

There is the weather, the constant danger of mechanical failure, the perils of controlling five sleep-, women-, and booze-deprived young fishermen in close quarters, not to mention the threat of a bad fishing run: "If we don't catch fish, we don't get paid, period. In short, there is no labor union." Greenlaw's straightforward, uncluttered prose underscores the qualities that make her a good captain, regardless of gender: fairness, physical and mental endurance, obsessive attention to detail. But, ultimately, Greenlaw proves that the love of fishing--in all of its grueling, isolating, suspenseful glory--is a matter of the heart and blood, not the mind. "I knew that the ocean had stories to tell me, all I needed to do was listen." --Svenja Soldovieri

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:08 -0400)

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The female captain of a swordfishing vessel chronicles the experience of a month long fishing voyage.

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