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Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic
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Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  334 ratings  ·  36 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 June 3rd 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Stephan van der Linde
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...more
Eric_W
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
Troy Parfitt
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
Valerie
The Deadlist Catch of books.
Martin Budd
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...more
Iris
Mar 14, 2009 Iris rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iris by: Stenwjohnson, Shawn
Shelves: space-and-place
"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...more
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

...more
Kenno82
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...more
Megan Pursell
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...more
Mary Licking
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.
Jim
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.
Brian Haverty
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
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.
Elliot
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.
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.
Kurtographer
What a pleasant surprise
Jack Thompson
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.
Miriam
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.
Byron
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.
Kris
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.
ryan
Mar 06, 2007 ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Flob
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.
Thomas Stevenson
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.
Tina
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.
James
Some of the most manic, wonderful writing about work and relationships I've read in a long time. His Congo book remains my favorite, but is much darker; Trawler is a great read.
Stephanie
An interesting insight into a male only preserve. A fair point made as we consider that the world is all charted and discovered - not the seas though.
Katie Verhaeren
In all honesty, perhaps I shouldn't rate this book since I couldn't finish it. Let's just say the man loves parenthetical expressions and very bad metaphors.
Mac Mchenry
The ravages of sleep deprivation while fishing the North Atlantic.O'Hanlon's humour and intelligence provide fascinating insights as always.
Peter Waller
Written by a man suffering from sleep deprivation and in rough seas. Lots of fish involved. Apart from that it's quite interesting!
Laurie
An entertaining read. Glimpses of life at sea, the great conversations from sleep deprivation and the passion for science etc
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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...
Into the Heart of Borneo No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon Borneo and the Poet (Pocket Penguin 70's #29) A River in Borneo

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