Hungry Ocean

by Linda Greenlaw

Paperback, 1999



Call number




Hyperion (1999), Edition: First Paperback Edition.


In his number-one bestseller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger describes Linda Greenlaw as "one of the best sea captains, period, on the East Coast." Now Greenlaw tells her own riveting story of a thirty-day swordfishing voyage aboard one of the best-outfitted boats on the East Coast, complete with danger, humor, and characters so colorful they seem to have been ripped from the pages of Moby Dick. The excitement starts immediately, even before Greenlaw and her five-man crew leave the dock - and it doesn't stop until the last page. Under way, she must cope with nasty weather, equipment failure, and treachery aboard ship, not to mention the routinely backbreaking work of operating a fishing boat.Displaying a true fisherman's gift for storytelling and a true writer's flair for both drama and reflection, Greenlaw offers an exciting real-life adventure tale filled with the beauty and power of the sea.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member DSlongwhite
This was a fascinating book about a woman who was a captain of a swordfishing boat based out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. She was an English major in college, so besides having a very interesting story to tell, she told it in a very interesting way. The book chronicled a one-month trip from dock
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to dock, chapters interspersed with other chapters she called "Mug Up" or "Coffee Break." In those chapters, she told interesting stories from other trips - like early one morning seeing a man floating in the harbor. She grabbed him by the hair and pulled him aboard. Turns out he's alive and takes the next trip with them.

I liked a sentence in the foreword - Linda says she had thought for years that she would like to take time off. After writing a book for a year, she came to the conclusion that it was hard to write a book and she'd rather be fishing.

Karen and I went to Gloucester to hear Linda Greenlaw read from her book. It was in a very tiny bookstore and she stood in front of a large grandfather clock. One of her fishermen was also present. It was hard to believe she could keep a ship full of men like him under control!
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LibraryThing member breic2
Great book about a swordfishing trip, interspersed with vignettes from other trips. Lots of detail on what life as a fisherman is like, including gear lists, budgets, temperature ranges for swordfish, etc.
LibraryThing member jaygheiser
Written by the female fishing captain featured in The Perfect Storm. A very well-written & interesting story about what it is like to fish for a living.
LibraryThing member npl
At the time that she wrote this book, Linda Greenlaw was the world’s only female swordfishing captain, and she was the primary source for the technical detail in Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm. In her own memoir, she describes a typical thirty-day swordfishing trip from Gloucester to the
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Grand Banks aboard the Hannah Boden (sister ship to the Andrea Gail which was lost during the Halloween storm in 1991). The author describes the boat, equipment, electronics, and her technique for finding just the right area to fish. The process of laying out the 40 mile long-line and hauling in the catch is also explained in detail. She talks about the shipboard life of the crew, their personality conflicts, hard work, and uncertain rewards—what will be the selling price for the catch?

Narrative Context: Middle Range Narrative Content

Subject: Long line/deep-sea fishing, commercial fishing, women boat captains, dangerous occupations, women in unusual careers, nature writing, personal responses to nature

Type: Memoir; autobiography

Pacing: Slower paced than most peril-at-sea stories

Tone: Exciting without terror, evocative of a dangerous way of life, with man against nature.

Similar Titles or Authors: The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger; The Cure for Anything is Salt Water by Mary South; Steady as She Goes: Women’s Adventures at Sea edited by Barbara Sjoholm; Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic’s Edge by Jill Fredston

Whole Collection Context: Waterwoman by Lenore Hart

Learning/Experiencing: High on this continuum, with all the detail provided.

Characterizations: The author reveals her personality and thought processes through her narrative, and shows effective insight into the characters and assets/liabilities of her crew.

Story Line: More action-oriented than psychological.

Language: Straightforward, without much embellishment or philosophy.

Setting: Ocean off Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the trip to and from the fishing grounds.
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LibraryThing member drebbles
"The Hungry Ocean" written by Swordfish Captain Linda Greenlaw, details one of her 30 day swordfishing expeditions. Greenlaw describes the preparations she makes before leaving on the trip; the personalities of the men accompanying her on the trip; how she decides where they are going to do the
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actual fishing; the fishing itself and the equipment used; how she decides when the fishing trip is over; and finally, shows a receipt detailing the money spent on the trip and how much money each fisherman made. Interspersed with the details of this particular trip are chapters called "Mug-Up" with anecdotes of past fishing trips.

"The Hungry Ocean" is a fascinating read. Greenlaw doesn't dwell on the fact that she is a female working in a job dominated by men. She provides detailed explanations of what needs to be done on board to prepare for the fishing, although she sometimes lost me in describing some of the details. I wish pictures had been included of some of the equipment she used. Greenlaw also describes how she deals with the inevitable problems that come up when a number of sleep deprived people are working together in a cramped space for a long period of time.

One of the best parts of the book are the small details Greenlaw includes: how they cook and prepare food on a moving boat, eating off Pyrex pie plates to keep the food from falling off; the practical jokes they play on new fishermen to break the boredom; and the various superstitions fishermen have. For the most part, Greenlaw comes across as likable, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the fish as she describes their struggle once captured. Still, I don't begrudge the fishermen; it's a tough and dangerous way to make a living.

"The Hungry Ocean" is a very compelling read.
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LibraryThing member bnbookgirl
A great look from leaving the dock to returning home-the life of a swordfisherman. This riveting story follows Greenlaw's life aboard her own fishing boat. She not only brings her life into view but also the five men in her crew. This books shows the details and dangers of the sword fishing
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industry. A true fisherman spinning a fisherman's yarn.
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LibraryThing member wvlibrarydude
A decent read into the life on a fishing boat. Some of the stories were good, and she did open up to let the reader see both the good and bad in managing the guys on the boat along with Bob Brown her boss. I just never really connected with her, so there lies the three stars.
LibraryThing member TerriBooks
Interesting and engaging look into life on a swordfish boat. Why anyone would choose to do this is beyond ma, but I guess it takes all kinds! Quick easy read, the author's personal touch makes this book come alive for me.
LibraryThing member JechtShot
The Hungry Ocean is an intimate memoir about the swordfishing industry from the perspective a female boat captain, Linda Greenlaw. This book details one specific trip from dock, to the sea and back again. We learn of the planning, the crew squabbles, the anticipation of pulling in the next set and
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the passion that those chosen few have who have elected to spend a majority of their lives at sea.

The Hungry Ocean is Greenlaw's first book, which I believe she was inspired to write after her boat (The Hannah Boden) was mentioned multiple times in "The Perfect Storm" by Sebastian Junger. The story was far more engaging than I would have expected from a book about commercial swordfishing. Things started out a bit slow, but once Greenlaw honed in on the love of her life (fishing) the story took off. If you are interested in a peek into the world of commercial swordfishing from the perspective of one of the most successful captain's out there, than look no further.
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LibraryThing member jbarr5
The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw
Very detailed descriptions of fishing trips from one of the best captains on the water.
Linda lives on Isle au Haut off the coast of Maine where there are cloe to 50 year round residents and many more during the summer months.
Love hearing of the fishing tales and
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the community on the island.
Starts out where Linda and Bob are at the local restaurant for their last breakfast on the mainland for 30 days. The ship is ready and she just knows she left something off the list of supplies. They would bring the swordfish catch into Gloucester. We had just visited that town in October and loved it.
Men are unloading the trucks after Linda's approval for the bait is loaded, then the groceries.
Love learning the information about the moon phases and how they are important to the fishing season.
Linda reflects on her life after 12 years old and her dream of being on the ocean, it's the only life she wants.
Various fishing trips, crew problems and how some don't turn out as they had planned and all the ramifications..
Love hearing of the island people, catching up with them, as they are mentioned in other books.
Fisher superstitions and dyeing the bait tips are priceless! Fishing the present and the past are talked about and what went wrong and what went right.
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LibraryThing member lindap69
Riding on the wave of The Perfect Storm, Linda Greenlaw chronicles her story of 30 days on a sword fishing boat that she captains. I lacked the stamina to finish as too much of the story was ordinary - I'll wait for the movie!
LibraryThing member ecw0647
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”. . .
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. 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.
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LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
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
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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.

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LibraryThing member kenno82
A nice perspective on commercial fishing from a different voice.
LibraryThing member jbarr5
The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw
Have read other works by this author and have enjoyed them.
She, swordfish captain and the 5 man crew leave the dock heading to Grand Banks, Newfoundland area.
Love learning about the technical things and new things I've yet to know about: birds and why they are
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Love how they get along with one another under all circumstances.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
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LibraryThing member linsleo
Really enjoyed reading this book! For anyone interested in what transpires aboard a fishing boat between Captain and crew, and the challenges, rewards and hardships of fishing offshore, this is sure to keep you engrossed and wanting more. Won't be able to think of Swordfish fishing without thinking
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of Linda Greenlaw.
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LibraryThing member donhazelwood
I am sure this has a lower rating than it deserves as most want to read more about the Andrea Gail. The book did a great job of talking about life on a swordfishing boat on a great trip. I was hooked from the get go ...


Alex Award (2000)


Original language



0340728965 / 9780340728963
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