Call Me Captain


by Susan Scott

University of Hawaii Press 

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For years Susan owned a sailboat the way most women own a motorcycle: She rode on it with her husband, and called it “ours,” but Honu had always been far more his than hers. When hormone storms, career doubts and a floundering marriage shattered Susan’s fairytale life in Hawaii, at 56 she took ownership of the couple’s neglected 37-foot ketch, learning to repair, refit and sail it in Hawaii’s rough waters. A year later, she invited her 28-year-old biologist friend Alex to crew for her and the two novice sailors shoved off for Palmyra Atoll, a National Wildlife Refuge 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. There, through her work as a biologist, Susan sought sanctuary in the marine animals that are her life’s passion.

In Call Me Captain, Susan shares the storms and gear failures of offshore sailing, the confusion of midlife changes and shifting marriage roles, and the magnificent world of marine biology.

A reviewer of Call Me Captain, wrote, I think of this book as Eat, Pray Love meets Life of Pi. Susan opens her heart in her story, allowing the reader total access to her life; all its beauty, pain, wonder and discovery. This access is what makes the memoir so compelling, like she is talking to you, her friend… The frustration Susan feels at times jumps off the page with such a sense of accuracy you know you’re not alone.

The ending, wrote another reviewer,
is spectacular.

Susan with first mate, Alex, on Honu

Susan at mast top replacing Honu’s broken forestay.

Palmyra coconut crab

Palmyra Atoll is famous for, among other things, its large reef shark population.  Photo: A black-tipped reef shark with a remora stuck to its belly.

Masked booby bird parent raising a chick at Palmyra

Dolphins riding Honu’s bow wave

For more about Susan, see