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Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  481 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Having survived Borneo, Amazonia, and the Congo, the indefatigable Redmond O’Hanlon sets off on his next adventure: his own perfect storm, in the wild waters off the northern tip of Scotland. Equipped with a fancy Nikon, an excessive supply of socks, and no seamanship whatsoever, O’Hanlon joins the commercial fishing crew of the Norlantean, a deep-sea trawler, to stock a ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 3rd 2006 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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Dec 29, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
This is the strangest of travel books: There are no views. It all takes place aboard a trawler from Scrabster that, alone of the Scottish fishing fleet, goes into the North Atlantic in January in the teeth of a Force 12 Hurricane. Author Redmond O'Hanlon pays fifty pounds a day for the privilege of assisting marine biologist Luke Bullough with his fish research and, whenever possible, gutting fish.

Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic is perhaps less about travel than about the strange l
Stephan van der Linde
Jun 19, 2010 Stephan van der Linde rated it it was ok
Trawler is the book I read the last from O'Hanlon, but did not really like.

No journey through the jungle or Amazon-river but Redmond reports from a trawler, on the Atlantic Ocean.

Even though O'Hanlon's writing-style is good and with the familiar humour within, this book is too much about fish.

The descriptions of the very hard work, his efforts and the tireness after, were absolutely imaginable.

But it is fish,fish,fish and fish. I know almost nothing about fish, but I can't really care about i
Troy Parfitt
Mar 01, 2012 Troy Parfitt rated it it was amazing
About a decade ago, I read Bill Bryon's A Walk in the Woods, a type of book I suppose I had never imagined existed: it was clever, funny, well-written, and loosely categorized as travel literature, a genre I had never heard of. I read other Bryson travel narratives and a few of his interviews. When asked, during one discussion, which writers he admired, the Des Moines, Iowa-born writer replied Jonathan Raban, Paul Theroux, and Redmond O'Hanlon. The interviewer told the interviewee his writing re ...more
Nov 15, 2008 Eric_W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being the Walter Mitty that I am, I thought it would always be fun to sail through a Force 12 storm (but only on an aircraft carrier or battleship or maybe the QM 2 being also a major chicken). Well, O'Hanlon had the same wish only he wanted to experience it on a fishing trawler in the North Sea. He was invited on the Norlantean by a fishing biologist friend. Jason, the captain, is very good at what he does -- he has to be since he took out a 2,000,000 pound loan to refit the ship. Talk about pr ...more
May 24, 2009 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: arewethereyet
The Deadlist Catch of books.
Alison Hardtmann
Dec 09, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
Redmond O'Hanlon is used to hiking through rain forests in the Congo, Borneo or Brazil, but when personal circumstances require him to stay closer to home, he comes up with the idea of writing about the wild places in Britain. Most people would decide that meant hiking in the Pennines or walking the length of the Ridgeway, but to O'Hanlon wild entailed traveling through the North Atlantic. On a deep sea fishing trawler. In January. While a hurricane raged.

Trawlermen are well paid, not just becau
May 23, 2017 Monica rated it really liked it
Redmond O’Hanlon, a fifty something Oxford educated travel writer and danger junkie, manages to get himself aboard a North Sea trawler for a voyage in search of deep water fish and a force 11 or 12 gale. In January. His mate is his friend Luke Bullough, a young marine biology doctoral candidate and volunteer lifeboat crewman. Luke is a crew member on the trawler with the additional responsibility of weighing, sexing and determining the age of the more unusual creatures that come up in the net as ...more
Feb 26, 2009 Iris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iris by: Stenwjohnson, Shawn
"Redsy" is very easy to read: his descriptions of close encounters with gelatinous deep-sea creatures punctuate long monologues about seasickness and dialogues with hardy young men o' the sea. "Trawler" is almost all reconstructed dialogue of the crewmen, whose Scottish brogue and bullshitting are endearing but, for me, a bit wearying.

We science-mad, natural-history enthusiasts must supplement this book with something of more substance. Only intermittently does Redsy discuss the aquatic life for
Bookmarks Magazine

In Trawler, O'Hanlon (No Mercy, In Trouble Again), a British naturalist and adventurer, takes readers on a hallucinogenic journey. Extraordinary (or nauseating, depending on the perspective) first-hand accounts of the ship, the close quarters, the smell, the fear, and the seasickness bring his experience to life. It's no picnic__just call Trawler a hellish travelogue or dark comedy as O'Hanlon's sleep-deprived sea companions slowly lose their minds. The best parts include conversations between t

Dec 03, 2011 Kenno82 rated it it was ok
The book follows the author as he braves Force-12 conditions to document life on a trawler fishing off the north of Scotland. The seas in this area present some of the roughest conditions across the globe due to colliding currents and Arctic winds.

I have to say that I really struggled with this book. The setting for the novel would usually lend itself to a story that I'd love. However, O'Hanlon writes in such a unique way that it can be tough going at times. The book is made up of huge slabs of
Elsa Ray
Sep 26, 2016 Elsa Ray rated it really liked it
This funny yet informative and saddening travel journal explores the life of the trawlermen of the Orkney islands. Travel writer Redmond O'Hanlon, a land-and-sleep loving Englishman, explores the wildest places of Great Britain, the North Atlantic, by joining the crew of an industrial trawler and heading out to sea in the worst season, into the mouth of a Force 12 winter storm. His tales of seasickness and chronic lack of sleep (trawlermen sleep only 48 hours in the three weeks they are at sea) ...more
Megan Pursell
Jun 23, 2009 Megan Pursell rated it liked it
While I loved his other books - his journey to Borneo with James Fenton is a modern travel classic - this was too fish-centric.

R O'H travels in the worst time of year (I was never entirely sure of the reason for the timing) with deep sea trawlers crewed by Scots. RO'H is a biologist so he's fascinated by the different fish, me less so.

What I enjoyed about the book were the characters of the crew (not Scottish, but Orkneymen and Shetlanders a big difference to them). This is of course the closest
Dec 07, 2014 Dave rated it did not like it
Oh my gosh!
This book is either one of the best written books in the world or it is absolute crap.
To give the author the benefit of the doubt, when I read books by the "greats", such as Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare, I get the same feeling that I got when reading Trawler. That is, what a lot of words talking such absolute crap in such a round-about boring way. So call me a philistine and call Redmond O'Hanlon a truly great writer.
But if you want to read a book that is gripping, easy to r
Martin Budd
Jan 30, 2014 Martin Budd rated it it was ok
Oh! The Horror! The Author's attempt at dialogue (in faux Scott's brogue) between himself and the trawler men torpedo's this "Trawler".
Truly dire - all the worse for the carcase of what could have been a good book rotting between the pages.
Redmond certainly suffers for his art during the writing of this book, the shame is the reader does to, the disjointed, rambling interaction between the two dimensional characters brings on a form of seasickness surely worse than any suffered by himself. - Ple
Brian Haverty
Feb 28, 2012 Brian Haverty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
I had written this on Amazon in 2005: I admit, I'm a fan, but I still think this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Redmond O'Hanlon's style takes a bit of getting used to, but once you're there, that style can take you to amazing places. I saw that one [Amazon] reviewer recommended ignoring the "manic rants", but they are just one of the magic ways O'Hanlon draws you into what must have been a truly bizarre world of cold, hard work and sleeplessness.
Emile Poelman
Oct 09, 2012 Emile Poelman rated it really liked it
Somewhat hallucigenic story of fishermen on a trawler in a force 12 gale. Lots of exciting info about the queer denizens of the deep which the trawler drags to the surface. I really liked the story, but then: I am a biologist...

If you don't like fish (even bizarre ones), or don't like the way men talk when they haven't slept for a week: avoid this book.

Otherwise enjoy this really different novel.
Dec 29, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was initially swept away by this book, by the enthusiasm O'Hanlon conveyed for the subject, the people and the experience. I've often wondered about the life of trawlermen and, if this is what it is really like, then wondering is more than enough! Sleep deprivation brings a job that literally drives you nuts, and maybe you'd have to be nuts to do it. The cold, the back-breaking labour, the fact that you're away from home for weeks on end….it takes a certain type to cope with it.
Jack Thompson
May 07, 2010 Jack Thompson rated it it was amazing
O'Hanlon writes with a marvelous mix of goofy humor, knowledge and wonder at the natural world. Trawler gave me a look at commercial fishing and a huge appreciation for the people that bring me my seafood. I can't imagine writing this book much less doing the job for real. Damn hard way to make a living.
Jay Moskowitz
An unofficial companion piece to the television show " Deadliest Catch" this account gives the reader a first hand look into the daily grind of being a deckhand on a fishing vessel. Make no mistake though- it takes a long time to get used to the conditions of being on a fishing vessel on the high seas and to the long working hours which take a toll on one's mental acuity.
Theodore Kinni
Jan 18, 2016 Theodore Kinni rated it it was ok
I tried to like this account of journey on fishing boat into a North Atlantic hurricane in winter by a well-regarded travel writer, but finally set it aside about two-thirds of the way thru. O'Hanlon, an Englishman, recounts long - sometimes 40-page long - conversations verbatim, and between the boring talk and the slang, it turned into too much of a slog for me.
Jun 19, 2013 Elliot rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book, but it is far more about the sleep-deprived and confusing rants of the author and crew than about the actual trawler and voyage, and at times I found the endless and confusing rants to be rather difficult to follow. While the writing is quite talented, and his deposition of badly sleep-deprived conversation very accurate, I still expected something more from this book.
Mar 06, 2007 ryan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aaron booy.
aaron, I keep promising to give you this book, but all should check it out. for someone with his academic background, he doesn't take himself seriously at all, and puts himself in some pretty cool scenarios in all his travels. definitely worth it.
Apr 13, 2013 Flob rated it it was ok
What a tedious man. To be locked away in a small boat with this person would be hell. I have no idea how the trawler men could stand him. I wonder if he really spoke to them as he reported in the book? This just didn't work for me.
Jul 20, 2007 Tina rated it did not like it
I really wanted to read this book, and I was so disappointed. I read a third of it and had to return it. It's very wordy and the dialogue was difficult to follow. Didn't learn much about trawlers either.
Jun 13, 2009 Kris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Funny book, probably too long... not every bit of dialogue needs to be reported after all.. But I loved the parts during the Force 12 storm the boat encountered, and Luke's descriptions of the weird denizens of the deep waters north of the Orkney Islands.
Jul 31, 2010 Miriam rated it really liked it
I'd like to give this one 3.5 stars. Not my favorite, and lots of posturing but a significant amount of the book has stuck and I loved the bits about the biologist who was studying fish at the same time that he was surviving (and keeping up with the crew) the job.
Mary Licking
Jun 20, 2014 Mary Licking rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure
Author applied through the UK government and received permission to accompany a trawler on its fishing & scientific expedition leaving from the Hebrides. He brought along a partner in comedy. Learned about the danger, boredoms, cold and water always there.
Apr 01, 2009 Byron rated it did not like it
I've read O'Hanlon's other three travel adventure books and thought they were among the best and most interesting of the genre that I had read. This book, which could have been very interesting, was a big disappointment, mainly due to a very weird narrative style.
Thomas Stevenson
Jan 19, 2013 Thomas Stevenson rated it liked it
If you want to know why commercial fishing is so dangerous and why the world's fisheries are collapsing, you will learn a lot here. You will also learn how little is known about the oceans' dwellers.
Jan 16, 2009 Arley rated it liked it
Wacky trip into the sleep-deprived mind of a fisherman, as told by a sleep-deprived science writer.
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Redmond O'Hanlon is a British author, born in 1947. Mr. O'Hanlon has become known for his journeys into some of the most remote jungles of the world, in Borneo, the Amazon basin and Congo. He has also written a harrowing account of a trip to the North Atlantic on a trawler.
More about Redmond O'Hanlon...

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