Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea by Linda Greenlaw

Many readers met Linda Greenlaw first in Sebastian Junger's 1998 bestseller The Perfect Storm. Since then, she has published a half dozen books of her own, chronicling her career and describing Atlantic fishing life. During the past decade, while she was writing, she stayed close to land, hauling in lobsters. In the latest, Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea, she tells about her difficult 2008 attempt to revive her deep sea career.

Taking a boat out to the Grand Banks for six to eight weeks is always risky. With international shipments of low cost fish flooding markets, profits in fishing are difficult to achieve, and when storms come, there is no shelter for fishing boats. Greenlaw had given the up-at-all-hours life up until she got a call offering her command on a boat that lost its previous captain tragically. With the lobsters not paying well and little time to think the offer over, she jumped at the chance. She hoped to prove she still had the courage and knack to do the job. She put together an older and unseasoned crew to take the old ill-fitted boat to sea. A comedy of errors with some tense moments resulted. Greenlaw even unwittingly violated Canadian fishing laws.

Greenlaw tells her story well, working in enough details to let readers know how work-intensive running swordfish lines is. In doing so, she shares the spotlight with the four extra-large men who make up her remarkably compassionate and dedicated crew. How they all get along on such a little boat is a constant concern that keeps readers reading. I found myself following their trials and rooting for them to catch some fish. You'll have to read the book to see how well or poorly they did. Find it at your public library.

Greenlaw, Linda. Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea. Viking, 2010. ISBN 97806700211925.

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