04/22/07 Hop on a plane, fly to Alaska, and visit the refurbished Deadliest Catch season one fishing vessel, The Sea star. While you’re there you might even shake the hands of none other then Sig Hansen, Phil Harris, Rick Quashnick, and Larry Hendricks…All big contributers and stars of Deadliest Catch!
By Margaret Bauman
Alaska Journal of Commerce
Four commercial crab boat captains who starred in the popular television series “The Deadliest Catch” are gearing up for a new and lucrative harvest: tourism in Ketchikan. Veteran crab fisherman Larry Hendricks, with partners Phil Harris, Sig Hansen and Rick Quashnick, hope to bring thousands of cruise ship visitors to the Southeast Alaska city aboard Hendricks’ retired crab vessel, Sea Star, to learn all about fishing for crab on the high seas. Their business manager, also a crab boat captain, is Gary Stewart, Hendricks said.Instead of risking life and limb to harvest crab on the Bering Sea, Hendricks, his business partners and other crab captains will be greeting visitors to Alaska aboard a remodeled Sea Star, complete with a retail store selling everything from notebooks to calculators and pens, all brand-name merchandising with “The Deadliest Catch” logo, he said during a telephone interview from Seattle. Tourism statistics point to some 850,000 to 950,000 cruise ship visitors from May to September each year, he said.And when the cruise ship season folds in September, the partners are considering taking their vessel south to the Seattle waterfront or even to San Diego for the winter months, he said.Hendricks began crab fishing as an 8-year-old in 1962. He currently serves as a technical advisor and consultant to Original Productions of Burbank, Calif., producers of “The Deadliest Catch” series.The 104-foot Sea Star, built in 1969 specifically for the Bering Sea crab fisheries, was retired in 2005. It is currently being remodeled in Seattle to sail into the tourism trade on May 8.Along with a large retail store in the stern, the vessel will be equipped with about a dozen interactive television screens describing how things work on the boat during the fishery, such as the first season of filming “The Deadliest Catch.”Sea Star Tours LLC, which plans to charge about $20 for a tour, will have tours led by real crab boat captains. “We’ll talk to them and tell them tall tales,” Hendricks promised.
The tour, which will take about 40 minutes, will include photo opportunities for any visitors who want to get their picture taken with the captains in the wheelhouse or elsewhere on the vessel.
There will also be plenty of opportunity to shop for souvenirs, ranging from videotapes and DVDs of the history of Southeast Alaska to “The Deadliest Catch,” plus stadium cushions, bookmarks and even cheese cutters.
Hendricks said he also sees the tours as an opportunity to promote Alaska crab fisheries as being environmentally responsible and sustainable operations, and to promote sales of wild Alaska opilio, bairdi and king crab. Promoting Alaska’s crab will help coastal communities dependent on a fisheries economy, and will help raise the price of crab, he said.
To that end, Hendricks, Harris, Hansen, Quashnick and Stewart plan to be at the Global Food Alaska Conference and Trade Show June 13-14 in Soldotna to promote Alaska’s crab fisheries.