After five years, during which she wrote two mysteries, Isle au Haut’s Linda Greenlaw is back with a new nonfiction book.
Seaworthy, due out June 1, chronicles Greenlaw’s return to swordfishing after a 10-year absence.
The 2008 fishing trip described in the book turns out to be fraught with bad luck, poor fishing and a widely publicized arrest by the Canadian border guard. It is also the story of a woman who, having retired at the top of her game, strives to reconcile the new, older and wiser fisherman in her with the younger version of herself.
Much has been written about Greenlaw’s arrest, and ultimate conviction, for inadvertently crossing into and fishing in Canadian waters in the Sea Hawk on September 23, 2008. According to Greenlaw, there was a lot of misinformation after her arrest. Seaworthy is her opportunity to set the record straight in her own words. Rather than pleading guilty and paying a fine from afar, Greenlaw chose to plead not guilty and have her day in court. “At least I had the satisfaction of hearing what the judge had to say,” she said.
If you happened to catch last summer’s Swords: Life on the Line on the Discovery Channel, then reading Seaworthy may feel a little bit like déjÃ vu. The book follows the same fishing trip documented in Discovery’s Deadliest Catch-style sword fishing show that premiered last August.
Greenlaw is under contract for two more books. She is currently working on a second cookbook co-authored with her mother, Martha, which will be published in summer 2011. Tentatively titled Maine Summers, this book will highlight recipes using the quintessential Maine summer ingredients, lobster, blueberries and sweet corn. It will also feature a few recipes contributed by others, including the people at the Inn at Isle au Haut and Black Dinah Chocolatiers.
The second book will be what Greenlaw has described as an update on life on Isle au Haut. But, she notes, “This book will be different from the others because I won’t be writing about fishing.” Far from it. Greenlaw has already decided that the focus of her next memoir will be the story of how she came to be the legal guardian of a teenage girl, named Sarai. “The Lobster Chronicles focused on the lobster season,” she said, referring to her last nonfiction book set on Isle au Haut.
The next book “will be more centered around the doings and happenings surrounding why I have this kid.”
Though it plays a small role in Seaworthy, one of the most notable parts of the book is Greenlaw’s relatively new job as a parent, and her introduction of now 17-year-old Sarai. And while Sarai has already been introduced to the world in Seaworthy, Greenlaw notes that in the yet-to-be-written book she will have the option to not have her name used. “Obviously I will accommodate her wishes,” said Greenlaw. “She’s going to have to be more than OK with it or else I will change things. I can still write a really good book without using her name.”
As for fishing, Greenlaw will still manage to find time to head to the Grand Banks amid all the writing. She fished the 2009 season, captaining the Bjorn II and taping season two of Swords: Life on the Line. And this August she will leave again for three months on the Banks. However, this year will be special, a homecoming of sorts. This year Greenlaw will once again be captaining the Hannah Boden, the boat she left 10 years ago and the boat that helped propel her to fame. “I’m very excited,” said Greenlaw, “because I love swordfishing. Whether the trip’s a disaster or not, there are good things that overshadow [the bad.]”
That love of swordfishing has never died for Greenlaw. When she left the industry a decade ago, it was with the intention of settling down and starting a family. As the years passed, and that didn’t happen in the traditional sense, she knew she wanted to return to swordfishing.
In addition, Greenlaw found that she didn’t enjoy lobstering as much as she had hoped. In The Lobster Chronicles, Greenlaw admits that working with her father-which she did her first few years in the business-was the only thing she liked about lobstering. “If it wasn’t for the books,” says Greenlaw, “I probably would have lobstered for one or two years, then I’m sure I would have gone right back to swordfishing.”
Greenlaw says she will take longlining one year at a time. “I’d love to think I’d go for three or four more years,” she said. “It’s not an age thing, it’s more a function of economics.” Greenlaw explained that when swordfishing, she is captive aboard the boat for a month or more; there isn’t anything else to do but fish. She doesn’t enjoy lobstering enough to have the discipline necessary to get up every morning and haul traps, whether she wants to or not.
The icing on the cake for Greenlaw is that the Hannah Boden now hails from Westport, Maine. “I’m proud to be a Mainer,” said Greenlaw, “and I’m so proud to have Maine on the stern. Any boat fishing out of Maine, doing what they need to do is great, whether it’s catching lobsters or slime eels or swordfish.”
Go to www.lindagreenlawbooks.com for her book tour schedule. Season two of Swords: Life on the Line is expected to air on Discovery later this summer.
Kris Osgood is a freelance writer who lives on Vinalhaven.