Book Review of The Hungry Ocean : A Swordboat Captain's Journey

The Hungry Ocean : A Swordboat Captain's Journey
reviewed Great Narrative On Life As a Commercial Fisherman on + 44 more book reviews


This book really caught my attention. First, like most people, I was familiar with Capt. Linda Greenlaw from the book and movie The Perfect Storm. The second is the fact my family had a long heritage in commercial fishing, in particular seine fishing in Alaska. This was a world that I did not have a lot of interest in when I was younger (when I saw the long days and hard work involved, I opted to go to college instead). As I grew older, I became more interested in stories of fisherman and stories of the sea, parts of the life I could have led. I knew nothing of longline fishing or sword fishing, so I thought it would be a great read for me.

The Hungry Ocean is a book you really have to take it for what it is. It is basically a diary of a month long journey out to sea to catch swordfish. The book also contains snippets from throughout Capt. Greenlaws career that spice up the book some, but in the end, it is a diary of a fishing trip. There is not a lot of white knuckled action, people are not dying in storms, and the fishing is not always good. However, what the story does tell is how people interact when confined in close spaces and the problems you face as a result, how long line fishing is done, how fish are processed and stored, what goes into making a successful fishing trip, and how the crew is paid in the end. I even picked up a fishing tip or two from the book. Overall, the book gives a remarkable view of what it is like to be a fisherman on the East Coast.

I thought this was a great book as the subject interested me and it was one I could personally relate to. I was quite surprised at Capt. Greenlaws writing abilities. She was really able to make a book about a month at sea with its short bursts of excitement and long stretches of monotony into a really great read. She was able to bring the reader into her world and make the reader feel the excitement of fighting a 400+ pound swordfish and feel the crushing blow when the crew finds out they have to spend one more day on the ocean when they are so ready to go home.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read. It is not a print version of the Deadliest Catch, but rather a great narrative of a sword fishing journey. I would highly recommend it to someone who was considering hopping a plane to Alaska and trying to find a fishing job after watching too much Discovery Channel so they can get an idea what they are about to get themselves into. Id also highly recommend it if the topic of commercial fishing is of interest to you. You will not be disappointed.