May 12, 1999: Linda Greenlaw’s book “The Hungry Ocean,” the first of many books by the swordfishing boat captain, is published. It remains on The New York Times bestseller list for three months.

The book recounts the day-to-day perils and personality clashes that emerge during a monthlong swordfishing voyage. It describes racial prejudice, drug use, unexplained illness and other problems that bedevil a crew of six living on a 100-foot boat that, at the end, is loaded with fish.

In the book “The Perfect Storm,” writer Sebastian Junger calls Greenlaw “one of the best captains, period, on the entire East Coast.” As captain of the Hannah Boden, Greenlaw plays a substantial role in Junger’s book.

In a review of Greenlaw’s own book, Publishers Weekly says: “Greenlaw’s narrative should foster an abiding respect in anyone who has tossed a swordfish steak on the grill, and it is certain to induce jaw-dropping admiration among personnel managers everywhere.”

Acknowledging the dangers inherent in her chosen profession, Greenlaw nonetheless confesses in the preface to her book: “Writing has proven to be hard work, often painful. I can honestly say I would rather be fishing.”

Greenlaw, a Connecticut native who settled in Isle au Haut in 1997, is portrayed by actor Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the 2000 film “The Perfect Storm.”

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at He can be contacted at:


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