Former local man in deep water
CLARKSBURG — Guy Kisielewski was born far from the ocean in Bennington, Vt. After growing up in Clarksburg, going to school in North Adams and working with horses in Delaware most of his life, the 37-year-old decide try something else — the deadliest job in the world, in the middle of the Bering Sea’s freezing waters.
Guy Kisielewski, left, a former Clarksburg resident appearing on this season’s ‘Deadliest Catch’ on the Discovery Channel, poses with a past catch with brother Dean, right, and a friend in this undated photo.
Kisielewski has been featured this season on the Discovery Channel reality show about Alaskan king crab fishermen, “Deadliest Catch,” as a “greenhorn” crew member of the boat the Wizard. He replaced another new deckhand who got injured part way into the season and his mother, Mildred Kisielewski of Clarksburg, said he found the job was a lot more than he bargained for.
“You can sit and watch something on TV but when you’re there it’s a different matter,” Kisielewski, a school bus driver in town, said Monday.
In 2005, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Alaskan crab fishing as having more than 300 fatalities per 100,000 crab fisherman, making it — officially — the deadliest job in the world.
Kisielewski joined the sometimes lucrative crab hunt during the Opilio crab season after a friend of his father’s knew the Wizard was looking for a new crew member. Kisielewski was eager to cash in big for a few weeks’ work. A full load of crab can bring upwards of a $1 million, making each deckhand’s share between $10,000 and $40,000.
“If they get their full boatload of crab, you make fabulous money. That’s a reason to go,” Kisielweski said. “However, what he didn’t realize until he got up there, was there’s lots of things they take out for. I think he was a little surprised at some of those deductions, and they’re pretty serious, too.”
Deckhands can be charged upfront for fuel, food, bait and wet-weather gear, which can run into thousands of dollars before a single crab is caught. Kisielewski said her son also was unprepared for the treatment new crew members have to endure.
“When they have a greenhorn come aboard, they don’t go overboard showing them the ropes,” she said. “They’re always complaining about what the greenhorn did while not showing him what to do. It’s a different world out there. It can be totally foreign to somebody.”
Kisielewski said there were a handful of times she was worried watching the show, and was relieved it was taped in months in advance. Crew members have had fingers crushed and bones broken over the show’s three years. Some have fallen overboard, where the frigid water can kill in minutes.
Her son has talked to her about the dangers he encountered, preparing her for what she was likely to see from her living room. While he didn’t quite regret the experience, he told his mother he wasn’t going to do it again.
“It’s not one of those jobs you can say ‘take this job and shove it’ and then walk out the door because you’re in the middle of the Bering Sea,” Kisielewski said. “Unless something awful happens, you have to stick it out. And awful things do happen, ships sink, people go overboard. For the life of me I can’t see why people like that job.”
The season finale of “Deadliest Catch” airs tonight at 9 on the Discovery Channel. Kisielewski said she’s a little worried after having seen a commercial for it.
“I was watching the show and they showed a preview that said ‘on the season finale one greenhorn threatens a captain,’ and I just thought, ‘I hope that’s not him,’” she said smiling. “But then they showed him in a shouting match with the captain, so I guess it’s not that bad.”
By Ryan Hutton