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The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,571 ratings  ·  258 reviews
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER--NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK! Known to millions of readers of The Perfect Storm as the captain of the Hannah Boden, sister ship to the Andrea Gail, Linda Greenlaw is also known as one of the best sea captains on the East Coast. Here she offers an adventure-soaked tale of her own, complete with danger, humor, and characters so colorful they seem ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published June 7th 2000 by Hachette Books (first published May 12th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
I know a bit about long-lining and swordfishing, and I sailed the Atlantic with some friends in a small yacht some time ago, so this book has always interested me. And now I've read it.

It's very technical, but I liked that.

Review to come.
Best feminist book (previously said "novel" in error) ever. Linda doesn't talk about doing a man's job, she has always just gone out and done it. Her monologue on why she is a fisherman and not a fisherwoman sums exactly why I think most feminists are not worth listening to.

"... and shook my head at his use of the word fisherwoman. I hate the term, and can never understand why people think I would be offended by being called a fisherman. I have often been confused by terms such as "male nurse,"
This is one grand lady who redefines the definition of that term. Fiercely loyal, courageous, yet feminine, she is not confined to societal expectations of what feminity is. If anyone has spent time in the open ocean on a boat, her achievements are even more impressive.
She wrote a fun book basically because of the attention she received from the novel and film, "The Perfect Storm". Everyone wondered "who is this woman" "Is she for real?" She is indeed.
Trixie Fontaine
A fast read from a unique perspective. It's a homey book by a working woman (yes, she's got a degree too, but nothing about this book seems "literary"). I reeeeeeally enjoyed it and am sure any Deadliest Catch fan would love it, too (different kind of fishing, but same kind of stories).
"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 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 fisherm ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Eric_W rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed <i>The Perfect Storm</i>
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 ...more
Art Tirrell
Feb 27, 2008 Art Tirrell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who loves the water

A woman to be admired

Linda Greenlaw captained an American sword boat. By itself, this is an accomplishment worthy of respect. More than that, she became one of the most successful captains in the fleet. And as "The Hungry Ocean" attests, she is also an accomplished writer with a fine eye for detail. I don't say things like this often, but this is a woman who "walks the walk", AND "talks the talk." A woman to be admired.

Forced by international law to fish a thousand miles from their home ports


The "Hungry Ocean" by Linda Greenlaw was a book that I could pick up and read again over and over. Myself, I love the ocean and fishing, so this book fits right in there. I didn't really think their were any downsides to this book because even in the beginning it got right into the story there was no waiting and I love to read books that jump right in and I'm sure you do too. "Anyone who loves the sea will love this book."
-Sebastian Junger
I wouldn't recommend this to anybody. There were a couple parts in this book that made my skin crawl. And it had a lot of technical information about fishing, which I care nothing about. Linda Greenlaw talks and acts like a man. She seems to have divorced herself from her feelings about the living creatures that she is fishing. I understand the need for fishing, but I would like to think that they do it as humanely as possible. As this book made clear, they don't. And, in fact, she even describe ...more
Barbara ★
I needed to read a non-fiction book for a challenge and since I love fishing, I thought this would be great. And it was except that I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, big mistake. She read so fast that she ran all the chapters together and stumbled again and again over the simplest words. Even so, I found this book to be very exciting and and since I do fish, I was able to understand all the terminology and equipment. An excellent account of a memorable swordfishing trip in the Atl ...more
Dan H
Apr 12, 2015 Dan H added it
In Linda Greenlaw's book, The Hungry Ocean, she talks about her wild adventures as a sword fisherman and captain. Linda works in a world dominated by men. Yet, Linda is the captain of the ship Hannah Boden and is in charge of her 5 shipmates. While Linda is the captain of the ship, a man named Bob Brown owns the boat. Half the money that the boat earns from fishing goes to Bob, while the other half goes to the crew. Bob hires Linda for her amazing adventures hoping she catches a lot of swordfis ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Greenlaw, the only female swordfishing boat captain on the east coast, or possibly ever, takes her readers on a journey way more interesting than the whole Lord of The Rings series, and still talks about fishing the entire time. Known as the captain of 'The Perfect Storm's sister ship, the Hannah Boden, Greenlaw takes her readers right onto the deck with her and her crew, she teaches the reader about what it takes to be the captain of such a ship when dealing with equipment failure, a seri ...more
Well-written, fascinating and disturbing. Would you like to hear some of it?

"As the boat came to a stop, I nodded to Carl, who leaned over the rail and grabbed the leader just below the snap. Standing up straight, Carl leaned into the rail with the tops of his legs nd hauled the leader, hand over hand, twisting his upper body to pull with his back and shoulders. Kenny and Ringo appeared at either side of Carl, each with a 16-foot-long-gaff. The gaff poles were 2-inch-diameter oak dowels, and eac
It told me a lot about fishing and the people who do it. I was impressed with the expense of it, the high tech investment, the expertise, the gamble everyone involved takes with every trip, the physical demands and the danger of it. When a clearly very ill man opts not to return to port because it will hurt his colleague's paychecks and really risks his life, I think how tough and really gutsy these guys are. We spend hundreds, if not thousands to pluck foolish and inexperienced hikers off mount ...more
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 nautic ...more
Jennifer Lauren Collins
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-l ...more
Kasey Jane
Back in 2004, I was a deckhand on a commercial fishing boat up in Bristol Bay. My experience was pretty different from the one that Greenlaw described -- we were gill netting close to shore, not long lining in international waters -- but it was still fun to reminisce.

I liked the technical details of the fishery, unlike a few reviewers apparently. I am confused why someone would read about a highly-technical field if they didn't want to be confronted with the details of that field? Oh right, beca
Jenny Karraker
Interesting book about a woman who is the captain of a swordfish boat. She shares her musings about perhaps wanting a family, but enjoying this job instead, which often pits her against gender stereotypes. The characters that she hired were also interesting--the old guy who comes on board and dies (and they put him on ice vs come back to shore), the young guys who come on totally unprepared for such grueling work (often working 18-24 hour days when the fish are running), the drunk guys and drug ...more
Very descriptive and informative, well-written and interesting. No one cared about Linda Greenlaw until after they read (or, more likely, until after they saw) "The Perfect Storm" but she tells her stories in her own voice and they are fascinating -even if you have no interest in swordfishing at all.
Read this for Community Read - okay, I read up to about page 140 and then skimmed the remainder. Why should I suffer any more than I have to?
She's a woman. I'm a woman. And that's all good - and that's all that is good about this book.
I love the ocean. I also like creature-comforts. So when a visitor left an ARC of The Hungry Ocean at my house, it was only a matter of when I would pick up this book. I was curious about what it would be like to live and work at sea, with only one's employees for company, for weeks at a time. I had seen the movie "The Perfect Storm", but had not read the book (good movie, by the way!) The Hungry Ocean is written by the captain of the sister ship of the boat that perished in The Perfect Storm ...more
While Linda has great knowledge about fishing, she is a terrible writer. I don't think even having a decent editor would have fixed this book. It comes across as if the author sat down with no plan in her head about what she was going to write about. Her stories stop and start, wander around, and she throws in random hyper-scientific stats that really have nothing to do with the book. It is a mish-mosh of words and horrific combinations of metaphors. The fishing trip the book is centered around ...more
Allen Steele
Very good on the tech side of swordfish fishing. the stories that Linda tells are great! Especially about a new greenhorn. the pro's & con's were eye opening, had no idea the detail and preparation it took! good book.
A factual recollection by a commercial Swordfish captain, she tells her story in a matter-of-fact style. I really liked the book for many reasons, but one of the foremost is because the author had a lot of leeway to add boastful commentary throughout but remained fairly humble in the telling of this fish tale ( excepting number of swordfish caught-if you're good, say you're Good!). The bulk of the story gives her account of one of her many sword fishing trips. It includes all the challenges that ...more
Tyler Merullo
Fantastic book written in the point of view of a woman in a man's world. If you like fishing, then this is the book for you. The plot delves deep into the life of a commercial swordfisherman, and shows you what the daily routine is at sea. It has moments of fear, excitement, suspense, anxiety, and comedy spread throughout the book, and it is the perfect balance of seriousness and comedy. However, it starts out a little bit slow and has dull points throughout. Some moments are so exciting you can ...more
I read The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey by Linda Greenlaw. The authors main idea is no matter how bad the situation is, always try to resolve the problem and that a women can do anything a man can do. The story takes place in the ocean on the Hannah Boden on a thirty day fishing trip. They catch Swordfish, Tuna, and sometimes shark. This is in Linda Greenlaw's perspective and is a diary. She gets very frantic before fishing trips thinking she is forgetting stuff, or something is o ...more
Most people who pick up this book probably read/saw THE PERFECT STORM. The author is the captain of the sister ship to the ANDREA GAIL, the one that sank. I can hardly remember the movie, so these details didn't do much for me--it's just that I like to read books about the ocean.

The writer's style is very plain-spoken and simple, and sometimes her descriptions are heavy-handed and plodding. Her story is clearly structured--one round-trip fishing journey, peppered with interesting flashbacks as
Victoria Murata
I give Linda credit--both for writing this book, and for fishing and captaining a commercial fishing boat for 17+ years. I think she effectively portrayed life on a commercial fishing boat for the month it takes to get to the fish, catch enough fish to fill the hold, and get back to base. I appreciated the map of the route, and the appendix with the settlement details. I learned a lot about fishing commercially, maybe more than I wanted to know. (the details about charts, fishing gear, radios, w ...more
711Isabel B
The book, THE HUNGRY OCEAN, by Linda Greenlaw was very interesting.

Linda Greenlaw, now a retired sword-fish boat captain (although, I heard she is returning to the business), wrote a book about an average 30-day fishing trip, with a crew of six, including herself. She described the work, the mindset, the problems, the emotional toll, etc. of swordfish fishing, while also talking about fisherman superstition and lore. She talks about her past, describing mistakes that she made, and their effects
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Linda Greenlaws three bestselling books about life as a commercial fisherman -- THE HUNGRY OCEAN (1999), THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES (2002) and ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS (2004) -- have climbed as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. She is the winner of the U.S. Maritime Literature Award in 2003, and the New England Book Award for nonfiction in 2004. Time Magazine called her 2005 RECIPES FRO ...more
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“...anyone who chooses to make fishing his occupation solely for the money is in the wrong business. If no thrill is experienced in catching fish, no satisfaction in going to sea and returning to shore, no pride in exclaiming "I am a fisherman," then a life on the water will be unfulfilling, perhaps even unbearable. Among the unhappy with whom I am acquainted, perhaps the most miserable people are those who fish out of necessity rather than out of a love of the sea and the seafaring life. I have always maintained that when I no longer feel a thrill, satisfaction, and pride from fishing, I will start a new career. (pp. 248-249)” 3 likes
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