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The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  4,305 Ratings  ·  304 Reviews
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." Green ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Voice (first published May 12th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Will Byrnes
In The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger offered Greenlaw a shout-out, describing her as “one of the best sea captains, period, on the East Coast.” The Hungry Ocean is Greenlaw’s story. She offers a reasonable share of personal history, tells of the social up and down sides to spending so much of her life on the water, communicates effectively her love of the sea, but most of all, this book give us detailed descriptions of what it is to work as a fisherman. There is a sometimes painful level of de ...more
Petra Eggs
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.
Debbie Zapata
Dec 27, 2016 Debbie Zapata rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: douglas
Thanks to GR friend Ladiibbug for sending me this book!

The Hungry Ocean is another glimpse into the world of swordfishing, and was just as entertaining as the last Greenlaw book I read, All Fishermen Are Liars, although I have to admit that there was sometimes a little too much technical information for me. The detailed passages about compass headings and specialized equipment were relevant, but I do tend to fall prey to schools of brain farts when I try to read such things.

The main thread of t
Aug 12, 2007 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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,"
Clare O'Beara
I enjoyed this memoir from a swordboat captain who describes herself as a fisherman. The conditions and workload vary from delightful to overwhelming; near the end of the trip her crew is almost ready to mutiny to get back to harbour - but not quite, because they are all there to catch fish. While Greenlaw is rare in being a female captain she says it drives her to work harder, and she appears to get the respect she has earned.

Greenlaw tells us there are plenty of swordfish and her industry and
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).
Art Tirrell
Feb 27, 2008 Art Tirrell rated it it was amazing
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

I live in New England now, and we were up in Falmouth, Massachusetts, up on Cape Cod, when my daughter needed to visit a restroom. We made our way into the Falmouth library, and while waiting for her, I noticed a Books for Sale cubby nearby. I picked up Greenlaw's book The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island, and my husband became excited as he knew her from one of his favorite movies, The Perfect Storm. I thoroughly enjoyed it, which led me to this book.

It's rather obvious that this
Nov 20, 2009 Drebbles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006
"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
Nov 22, 2008 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 07, 2010 Kathryn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 17, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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
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.
Allen Steele
Feb 03, 2013 Allen Steele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 28, 2010 Colleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 31, 2017 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was full of extraordinary details, so well described it felt like I was part of the crew hauling in beepers and long line. And I really didn't like it! I'm certain a "fishing life" is not for me. Greenlaw excels at giving readers a real taste of salt water on, what I assume from the ending, her last trip to the Grand Banks. It was only after I'd read the book that I realized it was nearly 20 years old and Greenlaw has gone on to do other things. I picked this up at a sale because it lo ...more
Jun 17, 2017 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just wanted to read something different so I did. Enjoyed this for the insights provided by the author on a subject for which I know nothing. Thoroughly entertained!
Tracy Johnson
Jun 22, 2017 Tracy Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting context, female Captain of a Swordfish boat! Sister boat to the Andrea Gail, lost in "The Perfect Storm."
Luke Johnson
Though I enjoyed The Hungry Ocean I think it's because I enjoy hearing about people who take pride and a sense of accomplishment from their work, especially when the job is hard.

As a book though it falls a bit flat at times sadly. It's a bit repetitious, Greenlaw stating over and over that if you're only in commercial fishing for the money, you're in it for the wrong reasons. Also, because the book is more a "day in the life" account it does lack a climax. There's no real drama here. Yeah the fi
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
Jul 15, 2015 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pearl-and-bobby
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
Dan H
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
Jan 31, 2016 Juanita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Review: The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw.

This is not 1CThe Perfect Storm 1D which was amazing but more on the technical aspect of the fishing journey where Linda Greenlaw 19s 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 confli
Aug 19, 2009 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting--if not quite gripping--true life account of a 30-day fishing expedition aboard a New England swordfishing boat. Main "hook" of this book is that the author-storyteller was the first successful female swordfish captain in that fleet. First-time author Linda Greenlaw is familiar to millions through the best-selling book and popular movie The Perfect Storm, as the boat captain friend of the doomed captain played by George Clooney.

Greenlaw gives readers an insiders glimpse at what ma
Feb 22, 2017 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always been interested in what it is like to be a fisherman. This book gives a good idea about all that is involved in being captain of a swordfishing boat, the personalities, the weather, the backbreaking work. This book is written by the female captain of the Hannah Boden, the sister ship to the Andrea Gail, the fishing boat lost in "The Perfect Storm".
Ken R
Jun 04, 2012 Ken R rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Hungry Ocean, by Linda Greenlaw, is about her and her crew on a sword- fishing trip. Linda’s crew consisted of Carl, Charlie, Kenny, Peter, and Ringo. Each of them had different tasks each day on the ship while fishing. Partway through the trip, Charlie had gotten very sick and could hardly work. Also, during the trip, there were what Linda Greenlaw called, “crew problems.” These are disputes that can be over anything. This is usually caused by boredom because you need to find a good spot t ...more
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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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