Entry No. 1: New Season, New Gear, New Challenge
Just before dawn today, I was standing on the deck of the Cornelia Marie with my brother Todd and Zac McFarlane, the two men I will have to lean heavily upon in order to complete what is becoming a monumental task.
Over the next week, we will be running the crews that will rig “our” crabbing vessels with cameras, microphones and all the other gear. We have done this before, except this time we will have to rig eight boats, and all the new equipment we have brought is not our usual stuff. This will be our first year producing the show in HDTV. None of this new equipment has ever been tested in the Bering Sea, possibly the toughest environment that any show has ever been produced in.
Before it is all done, much of the equipment will see four sea journeys, each with its own unique challenges. Last year, the temperature dropped to -20 F. How will this new gear fare? I don’t know. I can’t guarantee anything, and that is a spot I am not used to.
Dutch harbor is already awake now in the pre-dawn hours. The king crab season approaches, and the docks are buzzing with activity. Dutch has changed a lot since I first came here four years ago. About half the boats that once fished crab out of this port are still fishing today. More than a thousand men have lost their jobs, many of them my friends. The island seems sad in some ways, but there is little time to heed. With only a week until the fishing begins, my crew, each captain and every deckhand in this town is involved in the favorite pastime of Dutch Harbor: hard work.
When the boats are rigged, I will head to sea aboard the Time Bandit. Jonathan, Andy and Neil Hilstrand are some of my favorite crab boys. They are not yet in town, but I keep my eye on the harbor’s entrance, hoping they will arrive soon. I need to have every vessel being rigged day and night until we are done. Problem is none of the new equipment was designed for this task, and every piece of it is giving us fits in some way.