If it weren’t for the Perfect Storm, or the book and movie that depicted it, Linda Greenlaw might not be a household name.

The swordfishing boat captain from Isle au Haut subsequently wrote three best-selling books and landed a starring role in the Discovery Channel series “Swords: Life on the Line.” But Greenlaw said Saturday that she doesn’t dwell on the infamous 1991 nor’easter.

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. It was 20 years ago,” she said Saturday.

The 1991 Halloween Nor’easter, or the Perfect Storm as it came to be known, swept up the East Coast of the United States 20 years ago, causing 13 deaths and leaving more than $200 million damage in its wake.

The storm, which peaked on Oct. 30, 1991, was chronicled in the book “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger, who, along with National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Case, is credited with first coining the term.

It began as an area of low pressure off the Canadian coast, which later evolved into a nor’easter. That storm later absorbed Hurricane Grace, and the warmth and humidity of the hurricane greatly increased its strength.


NOAA weather buoys at one point recorded winds of 75 mph and wave heights of almost 40 feet.

In Maine, the southern coast was hit hard with waves from 15 to 30 feet, and tides almost 3½ feet above normal. In addition to the loss of countless lobster traps, 49 homes were damaged, two were destroyed, and widespread flooding of homes and downed power lines were reported.

Then-President George H.W. Bush’s summer home on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport was severely damaged, with the first floor taking the brunt of the storm’s wrath. White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater called the damage “disastrous,” and Bush cut short a trip to inspect the damage.

Five counties in Maine — Cumberland, Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc and York — were declared disaster areas and $7.9 million in damage was reported.

At the height of the storm, the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa — which had earlier rescued the crew of a disabled sailboat off Nantucket — came to the aid of an Air National Guard helicopter that had been forced to ditch 90 miles south of Montauk, N.Y., on a storm-related rescue mission of its own. The Tamaroa crew managed to rescue four of the five helicopter crewmen.

Among the dead from the storm were the crew of the Andrea Gail, a Gloucester, Mass.-based swordfish boat. Their story would later become the focus of Junger’s book and the subsequent movie. Greenlaw was featured prominently in both.


A Coast Guard report said the last known communication from Andrea Gail’s captain, Captain Frank W. “Billy” Tyne Jr., was to report his position about 180 miles northeast of Sable Island to Greenlaw, who was captain on the Andrea Gail’s sister ship Hannah Boden, according to a story in the Gloucester Times.

Aside from recently requested interviews, Greenlaw said this Oct. 30 is no different from any other.

“It’s not an anniversary that I celebrate,” she said.

Greenlaw, who is still a fishing boat captain, did acknowledge the coincidence of this weekend’s impending nor’easter falling on the Perfect Storm anniversary.

But she doesn’t have to be concerned about this weekend’s storm. Friday was her last day of tuna fishing for the season.

“I worry about others … I’m going to be watching it from my house,” said Greenlaw, who lives on Isle au Haut.


The crew of the Andrea Gail never made a mayday call. Had there been, Greenlaw said, she is sure the Coast Guard would have responded.

“Every time I’ve heard a mayday call, it’s always been answered. No matter where I am,” she said.

Greenlaw said the Coast Guard’s presence is “a huge comfort.” Fortunately, she said, in her 30 years making a living on the water, Greenlaw said she’s never needed its assistance. “I’ve been lucky,” she said. “That doesn’t mean I won’t.”

– Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers contributed to this story.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.