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May 30 , 2009

In Search of Ellen Marie


When author Rachel Rowley Spaulding first saw a copy of the painting of a fishing boat’s wheelhouse, she passed. Later, when presented with the chance to acquire the original painting, she knew she had to have it. Inspired by the rich colors (and the lure of a great story), she began a quest to find the Ellen Marie, the boat in the painting.
This story is really about a boat’s life, as well as the lives of people and their power to affect others. A fisherman in South Bristol, Maine, put his work on hold to chat and share an important clue in Spaulding’s search. Ellen Marie’s captain of the 1960s and ‘70s in New Bedford, Massachusetts challenged her stereotypical thinking about fishermen and took her on an imaginary trip to Georges Bank. Another captain generously shared his time, even inviting her on board a working vessel to clarify her understanding of the fishing process.
Ultimately, In Search of Ellen Marie is about being human and experiencing denial when life seems unbelievable. Spaulding learns compassion as she witnesses the grief of loved ones left behind when fishermen lose their lives at sea. It’s about the author’s awe-inspiring realization that she is now a part of a historic era that is endangered—a time of classic wood commercial fishing boats manned by a unique breed of courageous fishermen. It’s the story of connections, passions, and great pride.

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