Discussion Questions for Seaworthy (Download the PDF):
- In returning to the ocean, Linda Greenlaw faces great risks as well as the potential for great rewards.
Why did she decide to go back to swordfishing? Did her obligations to other people, such as Sarai or Simon,
influence her plans? Should they?
- According to Greenlaw, being at sea is like living in a bubble, completely disconnected from the rest of
the world. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this kind of solitude?
- “Home is a feeling, more than a residence,” writes Greenlaw (p. 192). Which places conjure a sense of
home for you? Why?
- In the book, the relationship between fishermen and fish is extremely complicated. How does Greenlaw
reconcile her respect for swordfish with her gruesome anecdotes about fishermen’s treatment of sharks?
What was your response to these conflicting perspectives?
- On p. 109, Greenlaw writes, “If you haven’t been there, you haven’t been there.” Does she mean a place,
an experience, a state of mind, or all three? Are there situations in your own life that you could apply this
- How would you describe the crew of the Seahawk? What did each member contribute? Which member
proved to be the most challenging? The most valuable?
- Greenlaw argues that gender “is only a problem if it’s allowed to be” (p.24). Do you believe this? Does
Greenlaw face challenges in captaining her boat that a man might not? What examples from her experience
support or contradict her statement?
- Evaluating her own skills as a captain, Greenlaw often refers to her age as a factor in being able to deal
with crises more reasonably. Do you find that to be true in your own life? In what other ways does age color
- Have you ever tackled a project or entered a profession that was traditionally associated with another
gender or age group? How did you confront this challenge? What was the outcome?
- Greenlaw claims she is defined by “persistence and determination” (p.137). Would you add anything to
that list? What attributes would you use to define yourself?
- On the last page of the book, Greenlaw assesses her return to swordfishing and discusses her plans to
continue. Considering the circumstances, was she too critical of herself in her responsibility for the events of
the book? Not critical enough? Did she make the right decision in returning to the ocean?
Linda's book The Hungry Ocean is a perfect title for book club discussions.
Discussion Questions for The Hungry Ocean:
- The epigraph is an excerpt from Shakespeare's sonnet 64. The full sonnet is:
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat'ry main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate:
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
Why do you think Greenlaw took the title of her book from this sonnet?
- The author seems to have admired Bob Brown partially because his expectations of her matched her own demands on herself. How do you think others' assessments of our capabilities affect our own?
- Greenlaw downplays her gender, but also notes that her crew works hard because "no self-respecting fisherman will allow himself to be outworked by a woman." In what ways do you think that being a female may have actually helped her to become "one of the best sea captains, period, on the East Coast," as she was labeled by Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm?
- What is the most demanding job you've had? What was the most satisfying job you've had? Was it the same job?
- How do Linda Greenlaw's feelings about fishing compare to those of fictional characters in works such as Moby Dick or The Old Man and the Sea?
- The author traces her fascination with the fishing life to watching a lobster boat in an Isle au Haut cove when she was 12. Was there such a defining event in your life, which led you to your career?
- Being captain of a boat at sea for weeks at a time would test one's management skills. How would you assess Greenlaw's handling of the tension between Carl and Peter?
Copyright © 1999 by Linda Greenlaw. All Rights Reserved.