Full of unusual characters, mischief, camaraderie, and testosterone-fueled man gossip.
“Laura Hartema is a woman made of steel navigating the rough waters of life on and off the Bering Sea. Good read.” ―Edgar Hansen from the Discovery channel documentary series, Deadliest Catch, co-captain, chief engineer, F/V Northwestern
Bering Sea Strong (Skyhorse, March 2018) is a tale of adventure and self-discovery. The story portrays a young woman on a solo journey, pushed to the edge of the earth and further from the weight of family―marked by divorce, death, disability, and depression―and a life she desires on land.
Locked at sea for ninety days as the lone female trying to tuck in tight alongside twenty-five rough-and-tumble commercial fishermen in Alaska, Laura Hartema offers a rare glimpse into the intertwining worlds of a fisheries observer and the crew she works beside. She graphically illustrates the challenges of daily life and relationships in a way few have seen before. Her story provides an unprecedented portrait of the bizarre and entertaining human dynamics aboard an at-sea catcher-processor vessel, where men battle dangerous working conditions, loneliness, and boredom while rivaling for the attention of the only woman.
Between trough and crest, Laura ponders the trauma and tragedies of her Midwest childhood as her capabilities and resilience are regularly tested. She is often left deciding when to “blow it off” and when to “blow a gasket.” In the end, the tumultuous Bering Sea is where she finds the strength to overcome the wounds of her past, embrace life’s uncertainty, and steam ahead into the unchartered waters of her future. Bering Sea Strong demonstrates one woman’s determination to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a satisfying career and a better life.
“Lock a beautiful, young woman up with a couple dozen of the most testosterone-burdened men on the planet for a few months and what could possibly go wrong? Apparently quite a lot. Over the years I’ve worked with a few female fishery observers, and I’ve often wondered what went through their heads; now I know. This book should be required reading for any woman thinking about shipping out to sea or living and working among a group of men.” ―Jonathan Allen, captain of F/Vs Arctic V, Glacier Enterprise, Lilli Ann, and Blue North, author of The Big Bucks Guide to Commercial Fishing in Alaska
Laura Hartema was born and raised in Chicago and earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. The challenging work and adventures depicted in Bering Sea Strong led to Hartema’s present career as an ecologist focusing on stream and wetland restoration. Her passion for her work and love for nature spills into her community, where she leads volunteers in stream enhancement efforts. She encourages others to seek inspiration, beauty, and humor in her blog, Love This Day (www.LauraHartema.com). Hartema resides in the Seattle area and spends much of her time outdoors embracing Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountains.