Interview - New England - Wessell

Interview - New England - Wessell
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LINDA GREENLAW WESSEL

FISHING CAPTAIN

 

As a Colby College student in the 1970s, Linda Greenlaw Wessel worked part-time as a deckhand aboard a swordfishing vessel. The salty experience hooked her, and led to her becoming the first female swordboat captain in America. When on dry ground, she’s an accomplished author, including New York Times bestsellers, The Hungry Ocean and The Lobster Chronicles.

 
 

COMMERCIAL FISHING is arguably the oldest profession in the world, with possibly the exception of prostitution.

I GREW UP on the coast of Maine. At 55 years, I've spent more of my life at sea than onshore.

EVERY KID on the coast of Maine has lobster traps.

IN HIGH SCHOOL, my classmates used to say, “I make more money than my teachers hauling in lobster. Why should I finish school?’

I GOT A JOB on a swordfish fishing boat at 19 as a way to make money for college and realized nothing makes me happier than blood on the deck and being at sea.

I LATER became captain of a 67-foot swordfish fishing boat, the Gloria Dawn.

Even though I’m outnumbered, I’ve never been dominated.

MOST NEW ENGLANDERS think of seasons in terms of fall, winter, spring, summer. My seasons are halibut, tuna, lobster, and the off-season.

I’VE HAD my share of scary experiences.

THE WORST was probably aboard the Hannah Bowden, a 100-foot steel boat. I was moving 500 lobster traps and a freak storm—what the old timers call a queer—came upon us.

IT THREW all of the traps to one side of the boat and lifted us out of the water. My crew and I managed to limp out without anyone harmed.

THAT EXPERIENCE was portrayed in The Perfect Storm. I was a consultant for the film.

A WOMAN CAPTAIN is rare and even though I’m outnumbered, I’ve never been dominated.

THESE DAYS, I own a 41-foot Lowell-design wooden lobster boat named Earnest. The name just suits her.

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EXPLORE MORE

See Captain Wessel’s extensive catalog of writing, nonfiction and mysteries, here.