Women on the Waterfront

Linda Greenlaw has worn many hats

Thu, 04/21/2022 - 8:45am

    On the anniversary of the 60th year celebrating Windjammers Days and maritime history, we pay homage to our founder, Captain Marion Dash for her contribution as a female role model in our maritime community. It is her legacy that has inspired the Friends of Windjammer Days to celebrate the women who are working on the waterfront today who in turn inspire young girls and future maritime generations to come.

    Swordboat captain, best selling author, Discovery channel celebrity,  co-owner of Wesmac Custom Boats, lobsterman,  charter boat captain; but nothing makes her prouder than to say, "I'm a fisherman." 

    The author of nine books and co-author of two cookbooks with her mother, Greenlaw's accolades are many including an American Library Association Award, U.S. Maritime Literature Award and New England Book Award.

    She grew up on the coast of Maine and fell in love with the ocean at an early age.  Being aboard boats and chasing sea creatures were normal everyday life activities for a little girl living on an island off the coast of Maine.  By her own account, when other kids were learning how to ride a bike, Linda was much more interested in learning how to row a boat. 

    After high school, Linda began fishing as a way to pay for college.  "Fishing for tuition" is how she refers to that time which foreshadowed the next chapter of her life.  Upon graduating from Colby College with a double major in English and government, Greenlaw continued with fishing eventually becoming a renowned swordfish captain.

    One of the best in her field, she was the only female swordfish captain in the United States. Her fishing ventures took her far offshore often out to the Grand Banks for 30 days at a time where she was tested by some harrowing experiences. In 1991 Greenlaw was captain of the Hannah Boden, sister boat to the Andrea Gail, which was lost at sea during what is commonly referred to as “the perfect storm,” and is detailed in a book by the same name written by Sebastian Junger.  The book, along with the attention from the subsequent movie, laid the foundation for Linda's writing career. Her first book “The Hungry Ocean” landed on the best seller list as have four of her later books. Greenlaw was also featured in the reality TV series, “Swords,” which documented the happenings aboard New England boats who fished for swordfish.

    Today, Linda lives with her boat building husband in Surry, Maine.  While she no longer goes out to sea for long stretches, she has not slowed down by any means.  She still has a lobster boat hauling her own traps, is co-owner of Down East Oyster aquaculture, and owns a charter boat business.

    Captain Greenlaw exemplifies living life to its fullest.  Addressing a graduating class awhile back, Linda shared some of the life lessons she has learned so far on her journey:

    • Education is never wasted, education becomes you. What you have accomplished is yours, it can never be taken away.
    • Opportunity knocks - it does not let itself in. You have to answer the door and that is when the hard work comes in.
    • Success is not always measured in dollars. I am passionate about catching fish. That feeling of loving what you work at - that is success."
    • And this very important take away: "Being female ... I didn't have anything to do with that. That is just sheer luck!"