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

Viking, 2010. ISBN 978-0-670-02192-5.
Reviewed by Martha Meacham
Posted on 07/27/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Active Life; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

"Swordfish are the most interesting creatures!"

Even if this statement seems arguable to you, if you are looking for an adventure story worthy of your attention, Linda Greenlaw has written, Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea. The author shares her adventure in a voice so authentic you feel as if you are sitting on a porch with her, together drinking in the aroma of saltwater air on the New England coast.

Both a seasoned commercial fishing boat captain and writer, Greenlaw matter-of-factly reveals her intriguing story of a 47-year-old woman and her crew of four men heading to the North Atlantic in an old boat that is fraught with problems. The world's only female swordfish boat captain, Greenlaw had settled on an idyllic, if not lucrative, life on an island in Maine to write and trap lobster. However, when she was given the opportunity to head up a longline fishing expedition, she did not hesitate to get on board.

You don't need to like to fish or be on the ocean to appreciate this book, for Greenlaw's technical sailing and fishing language is easy to understand. I liked the fact that she shares plenty of reflections on both her confidence and fears related to this undertaking. There are more twists and turns to this story than a flopping fish on the deck of a sailing vessel—and plenty of memorable lines, like this quotable quote: "Age, like gender, is only a problem if it's allowed to be."

As a political note: U.S. North Atlantic swordfish population levels have been restored to high levels and over-fishing is not currently an issue. Greenlaw portrays with sensitivity the account of capturing, killing and transporting swordfish, so that consumers can have this delicacy. She mentions the controversies—from "slaughtering innocent fish" and mercury in swordfish meat to accusations of depletion of this natural resource. But her work means much more to her than a paycheck. Through Greenlaw's eyes, I came to know that the swordfish is, indeed, a most interesting character, as is she.

Linda Greenlaw lives in Maine. She is an award winning author of fiction and non-ficiton books. She has written three New York Times bestselling books about life as a commercial fisherman. She was launched into the public spotlight as the real-life hero of Junger's The Perfect Storm. Visit her website.

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