Redmond O’Hanlon is a British adventure writer, specializing in topics
of natural history. His other books include: JOSEPH CONRAD AND CHARLES
DARWIN(1984), INTO THE HEART OF BORNEO(1984), IN TROUBLE AGAIN(1988)
and CONGO JOURNEY(1996). TRAWLER was published in 2003.
At the age of 41, a somewhat pudgy and out of shape O’Hanlon decides to
return to his roots and write an adventure tale. At first intending to
tour Great Britian’s untamed backcountry, O’Hanlon opts instead to hop
a ride on the Norlantean, a fishing trawler owned by the irascible
Jason Schofield, a sea captain so in debt that he must push his crew
into a Force 12 hurricane in order to make quota. The ship launches off
the coast of Scotland and travels north around the Arctic Circle. Along
the way, the nebbish O’Hanlon bonds awkwardly with his coworkers while
the trawler’s nets are furiously dropped and pulled around him.
For O’Hanlon, life at sea becomes a long series of sleep deprived
nights and maddening monotony all overshadowed by the constant fear of
death in the service of a truly dangerous occupation. O’Hanlon is
particularly humorous in his descriptions of his own inadequacies
aboard ship. Try as he might, Redmond never seems to fit in with the
surly sea-folk around him; whether bed-ridden with sea sickness, half
batty from lack of sleep or clumsily useless with a knife and fish, he
just cannot seem to connect with these gritty Scots.
The sole exception may be the on-board biologist, Luke Bullough, who
satisfies O’Hanlon’s scientific bent as the two men measure and
identify deep sea creatures pulled from the nets over the Arctic
Circle. Also of interest are the strange, paranoid, sometimes
disturbing, discussions between O’Hanlon and the crew of the Norlantean.