It’s 1981, and Sylvia Taylor has signed on as rookie deckhand on a wallowy 40-foot salmon troller. Looking forward to making money for university, she is determined to master the ins and outs of fishing some of the most dangerous waters in the world: the Graveyard of the Pacific. For four months, she helps navigate the waters off northern Vancouver Island, learning the ways of fisherfolk and the habitat in which they breathe, sleep and survive.
The politics of selling fish, the basics of tying gear, near-death experiences, endless boat troubles, the emotional perils of sharing cramped quarters—all are part of a steep and unforgiving learning curve. Taylor’s story captures the reality of life on a fishboat and documents the end of an era, a time when the fishing industry wasn’t yet marred by unchecked overfishing or hyper-regulation. Her lyrical, simple prose explores the tight-knit relationship of fishers with the west coast’s wild, untamed waters. Her memoir bursts with all the humour and hell, peace and upheaval that is the Pacific Ocean.
“Taylor is a vivid, full-throated writer, often spinning out sentences that ask to be read again, just for the fun if it. She is also clear-eyed about the rip-roaring yarn she’s telling, seeing herself and all those around her with admirable even handedness. This is no easy thing for one so passionate and full of life. . . . Her descriptions of how things are done, how the gear works, and most especially, of the mad microcosm that fisherfolk inhabit ring true from start to finish.” —Tom Gallant, The Rover
“Taylor’s detailed notes and descriptions account for much of The Fisher Queen’s strength. The book is replete with interesting information . . . As a woman in a male-dominated environment, Taylor brings a fresh perspective to a punishing way of life.” —Alexis Kienlen, Quill & Quire
"Honest and straightforward, this autobiographical tale adds a female perspective to the literature about our recent coastal history—an informative and eye-opening read." —BC Books for BC Schools/i>
"Taylor’s narrative . . . reads like a flash of sunlight on a copper lure: sudden, seductive, and elusive." —BC Studies
“This authentic adventure is the courageous Sylvia Taylor's marvelous eulogy to a lost way of life.” —Rupert Macnee, television and documentary producer, Darwin's Brave New World and The Inside Passage
“At its heart, The Fisher Queen: A Deckhand’s Tales of the BC Coast is about humanity’s oldest story: the primeval quest of the hunter. Sylvia Taylor’s evocative memoir recounts this ancient tale in the form of a summer sojourn aboard a commercial fishing boat in pursuit of salmon. It’s an odyssey of love, loneliness and longing set on the rugged backdrop of Vancouver Island’s West Coast. —ThisFish.info
“Taylor’s panoramic prose is as rhythmic as the swells she sails on. She reveals her own rite of passage, an unforgettable odyssey of love, loneliness and longing.” —Eric Enno Tamm, author of Beyond the Outer Shores
“Sylvia Taylor’s engaging story of a young woman testing herself in a traditional man’s world is a darn good read.” —Anthony Dalton, author of The Graveyard of the Pacific and A Long, Dangerous Coastline