F/V Wizard deckhand Nick Mauer chatted with Discovery this last Tuesday! He’s been referred to as a “greenhorn” throughout the season but being filmed for the show Deadliest Catch is all that he’s a greenhorn to. In real life, Nick has fished all his life and this is actually his fifth season out in the Bering sea.
Discovery: Welcome to this week’s Deadliest Catch chat. Our guest is Nick Maurer, a greenhorn aboard the Wizard. Ask him about the duties of a greenhorn and life aboard the Wizard.
Nick: Thanks for joining us, and I hope you all enjoy the Wizard and watching Deadliest Catch.
Sufer1983: What made you want to be a deck hand?
Nick: I was looking for adventure. Fresh out of high school, and I wanted to make some money. It was completely different from what I’ve known down here, and it kind of gave me an opportunity to do my own thing. And it’s really worked out for me.
Rockisgood: What is it like being a greenhorn?
Nick: You have no idea of what you’re getting into. It’s hard, it’s challenging physically and mentally. It’s difficult. The hardest part for me is just figuring things out without being told what to do, I know that someone’s always watching me, so there’s no room for error.
Zig: You must have had some expectation of what life would be like working on the Wizard, but what surprised you? What was different from what you expected?
Nick: One thing I didn’t expect was how rigorous the work was and how little sleep I would get. How intense the work environment was, as far as weather and just working really hard. I don’t think I was physically ready for what I’d be doing.
Rhoberta: Have you ever or would you ever consider a different line of work? If so what would you want to do?
Nick: I would want to fish. I want to fish for the rest of my life. I don’t plan on crabbing my entire life, but if I ever couldn’t fish for any reason I guess I would consider going back to school and doing something with marine biology or be a fish and game warden. I always wanted to be a fish and game warden. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
ClaudeC: How long will you be known as the greenhorn? Will that nickname ever go away?
Nick: Yes, as far as I know. I was officially not a greenhorn for the opies of this season. Keith came up to me at the beginning of this season, and said I wasn’t officially a greenhorn any more. But I’m still being called that. It’s taking a long time to drop that name.
Dunestorm: Nick, I notice you ware glasses on deck. Does that ever become a problem?
Nick: Yes, it’s difficult working with glasses because of the weather, obviously. For the majority of king crab season, I was wearing contacts. There have been times that it’s been so cold that the spray freezes on my glasses and I’m working blind. So I try to wear contacts all the time now. I’ve never had a problem with them, except when I get too tired to take them out at night and I fall asleep with them in.
Patty: What did the intestines of the cod taste like?
Nick: (laughing) Oh jeez…it tasted like nothing, but the texture and how it just kind of exploded when I bit into it — that kind of made me sick. Oh man, I am NOT looking forward to seeing that tonight. They should put it on Stupid Human Tricks!
Krystalseer: Anticipation vs. reality to the time at sea. — how does it compare?
Nick: I’m always very antsed up. I have adrenaline pumping for the beginning of the season. I don’t really know what it is that I’m worked up over, but once we start fishing I always settle down. Once you start catching crab, it’s better to know when you’ll be going home, as opposed to “I’m going to be here for ever and ever.” “Is the weather going to help us out, or will it be harder because of conditions on deck?” Mostly now, it’s just an adrenaline rush that I get.
Sscherer: After watching the new opie season show there were a lot of greenhorns that “looked like” they knew what they were doing. Did you get any help or lessons during hire to shove off time? Did the other crew help and welcome you or did they let you find your own way?
Nick: The guys on the Wizard are very eager to show me anything. I also wanted to learn, so they all worked with me, without a doubt, and they all take time to show me stuff especially tying certain knots and just certain ways of doing things that can make my job easier. They’re always willing to help me, because you know the Wizard has the best crew, right? And the best greenhorn!
Mystic: What characteristics do you think are necessary to be a good deck hand?
Nick: Patience, I think, to actually take the time to get into a groove and pick up what’s going on. You’ve got to open your eyes and see what needs to be done, and always try to jump in and help when you think people might need help, even though a lot of the time they just tell me to get the hell out of the way. You have to have a good head on your shoulders, and not talk back. Ever!
Lori: Does the captain clearly communicate individual and team performance expectations before heading out for the season?
Nick: I can’t really talk for anyone else, but Keith has very high expectations of every person in the crew. He doesn’t say “OK, you’re going to do this.” Everyone always works together, and everyone always knows what they should be doing. If they see someone is busy with something, they’ll jump in there and help with that also.
Backbay0: I love your show and only can appreciate the danger you’re at all times. Have you ever fished on the New England coast?
Nick: No, I’ve never fished on the New England coast. I had an opportunity to do some swordfish fishing out there, but I couldn’t go because I was going crabbing. I’d like to explore over there and try stuff out. I’d really love to do some commercial swordfishing on the east coast, around Gloucester.
Krystalseer: After being through the experience, would you do it again, and what advice could you give to other greenhorns wanting a job?
Nick: Yeah, I think I’ve fished five seasons now so yes I’d do it again. And if I could give any greenhorn some advice, it would be to eat your Wheaties!
Patty: Do you believe in the old fishermen superstitions?
Nick: That’s a good question! I do believe in certain superstitions, but I’ve never really paid much attention to it until I got on the Wizard. All the experienced guys are all very superstitious. I always whistled when I was fishing on the boat, and Gary Soper (the mate on the Wizard) said not to do that because I’d whistle up a storm. I didn’t believe him, but soon a wind came up and so now I believe in that and I don’t whistle on the boat any more.
Will: What’s the worst job on a crab boat?
Nick: I would say on the Wizard, the guy running the crane. The guy operating the crane has a ton of responsibility and can make mistakes, even if it’s not necessarily his fault. And he’s the one who gets yelled at if someone is doing something wrong on deck. That’s what I would think is the worst job. I have no desire to do it. At least, not yet.
Saudi: Do you like hockey and if so, which team? Go Avalanche 🙂
Nick: I never paid much attention to hockey, but Go Avalanche!
James80: Exactly where are you geographically?
Nick: I am in Pacific Beach in San Diego, CA.
Krystalseer: Is the money earned really worth it?
Nick: Yeah, I think it is. It feels good since I’m young, and I work hard to earn my money. It feels good, and I think it’s definitely worth it.
Rhoberta: I know your dad is a fisherman. What does your mom think about you going into fishing?
Nick: I think my mom worries a lot while I’m gone, but she’s also proud to watch me grow up and become a man. I was definitely still a child when I went up there — I had just turned 19.
Jenmurphynyc: Hello, what are the sleeping conditions like aboard?
Nick: One of the good things about the Wizard is that it’s big, and with a big boat, everyone has their own room with a sink and a vanity and drawers. My bunk is a very happy place — very comfy, very cozy, and it’s all mine!
Opusnozoo: My 12 year-old daughter would also like to know what was the most challenging moment you faced this season?
Nick: I got an opportunity to do things I had never done before. I was throwing shots, and I got to throw the hook and run the bags to the block and tie shots and stuff. That was challenging because I had never done it before
Amy: Did having the cameras around make you self-conscious or were you able to ignore them and do your usual work? Did camera men get in the way of your work?
Nick: At first it made me nervous, and I was definitely shy having a camera in front of my face. After a while, I got not exactly comfortable, but not so nervous so I could be myself and not be so reserved. But it took a while to warm up to it.
Vitoman: How hard is it to become a greenhorn, and have you worked at an Alaskan seafood processor? Thanks Nick.
Nick: I got very lucky. I have some friends in San Diego who fished on the Wizard a few years ago, so for me it wasn’t hard to get a job. But I don’t know how it would be now. I’d assume it’s extremely hard to get a job on a crab boat now. And no, I never worked at a seafood processor.
Jenmurphynyc: What type of water do you drink aboard? Is it stored in tanks or is it bottled? Or do you have some type of filter system?
Nick: We have bottled water, and we also have 2-3 fresh water tanks. All the water is filtered before it comes out of the faucet.
Kman: What were you before you were a fisherman?
Nick: I was a student, I guess. I started fishing with my dad when I was 14, so I’ve never filled out a job application or had any other job.
Kathy Va: How long had you been fishing prior to being on the Wizard?
Nick: I’d been sport fishing down in San Diego since I was 14, so five years before I started working on the Wizard.
The Fireman: I would love to ride along to observe — does this ever happen?
Nick: Occasionally we have fish and game observers, but I don’t believe that anyone just gets to go out and go crab fishing. Although that would be a really cool thing to do!
Buffettfan: I understand that you broke both your legs in the car accident. Can you tell us how it happened?
Nick: I didn’t actually break both of them; I broke one and messed up my other ankle. I had just turned 21, and I was walking across the street. Had too many drinks, I suppose, and wasn’t really paying attention. Someone hit me. I think it was 3 days after my birthday.
Cakid: What’s the greenhorn’s responsibility on the boat?
Nick: The greenhorn has to make sure there’s always enough bait made up, and be there to dive in the pot, especially during opies. Make sure there’s no crab left in the pot when you stack it. And of course, to make sure the inside of the boat is very clean.
Kman: Do you wish to become a captain in the future?
Nick: Yes. I want to run a sport boat down in Southern California, though.
Momma1998: What was the weirdest thing you have seen come aboard the Wizard?
Nick: Probably wolf eels. Wolf eels look really creepy — they have no color in their eyes, almost like they’re dead. And they’re slimy and gooey to the touch. You catch some really weird fish too. I’ve never seen some of the weird stuff we catch up there.
Jeannie36832: I’ve noticed that everyone seems to bet on just about anything. Is that for entertainment or just the competitive nature of the fishermen?
Nick: I think it’s partially entertainment, to see if you can get someone to do something stupid for a little money. But it’s also partly competitive. It’s fun to prove to someone that you can actually do something because you have to be macho man to be a crab fisherman. Or at least, try to be.
KyleTexas: Other then sleep, what kinds of things do you and the crew do on your rare down times?
Nick: Take a shower. Maybe eat some food. Just take some time away to kind of clear your head.
Buffettfan: How many times did you get sea sick? Do you ever get used to it?
Nick: I’m one of those lucky few who has never in my life been seasick. But I have a lot of pity for people who do get sick, because it looks miserable.
NKL-PLTE: So what type of gear do you wear to try and stay warm while you are on deck working??
Nick: I get really hot really easy, so I usually only wear a pair of fleece sweat pants, a pair of wool socks, and a T shirt underneath. I don’t usually wear even a sweatshirt. It could be 20 below, and I’ll still be pouring sweat, just from working so hard.
Timls3674: Did you ever get the hang of not hooking your arm through the rope?
Nick: I’ve never been caught in a bite on the boat — I’m always pretty careful of where my arms and legs are.
Kitten007: Ever thought of getting LASIK surgery?
Nick: Yes, I would love to have LASIK surgery. Glasses are constantly a problem when you work around water. I probably clean my glasses about 100 times a day.
Nickcenter77: What do you think is the most dangerous part of crab fishing?
Nick: Probably that it’s pretty unpredictable. Being always aware of what’s going on — it’s hard to pay attention all of the time and still do your job, especially when you’re fighting fatigue and you get tired and you’re arguing with someone on the boat.
Will: Is your family worried while at sea, and can you get in touch with them?
Nick: Yes, everyone who cares about me and loves me is worried. But we have a satellite phone that I use pretty regularly to call my mom and whoever.
Patty: Had you ever watched Deadliest Catch on TV before deciding to be a greenhorn?
Nick: I think the very first season I was up there and was a greenhorn was the first season they filmed. About 5 years ago before Deadliest Catch there was a show called “Deadliest Season, about the boat the Fierce Allegiance. I wanted to have an opportunity to try that when I was really young, but I didn’t think I’d really have a chance to do it.
Shoes: What was the hardest lesson you ever learned on ship and why?
Nick: I think the hardest lesson I ever learned was during the last king crab season when I stopped taking weights as we offloaded. I stopped taking weights when I should have just been paying attention to the scales. Keith had told me not to leave the weights unless there was somebody there to cover me. I left the weigh station and went off the deck which was a real no-no, and I got screamed at pretty harsh for it. I’ll never do that again!
Sean M: What is the best meal you have ever had on a crab boat?
Nick: Anything I eat after working a good six, eight or even ten hours is a good meal. It can be a Hot Pocket, doesn’t matter — I’m satisfied easily. But some of the guys have cooked some really good meals. I had filet mignon and roasts, and all sorts of stuff.
Cowchick: Do you watch the show, and if you do, do you ever see yourself and say, “What was I thinking?!”
Nick: (laughing) Yes, I do watch the show. And yes, every time that I see myself on TV, I always wonder “Oh God, what have I done now?” I don’t always do everything right.
DEL: Do you become friends with other greenhorns? Do you hang out and talk about the captains?
Nick: On the boat, yes we spend a lot of time together and work together. But we don’t really talk about the other guys on the boat. We all get along pretty well. If anything, we talk about what we think we’re missing out on by being on a crab boat instead of being home.
Mosier08: Which type of crab do you enjoy fishing more?
Nick: I enjoy fishing king crab more than anything. They’re really cool to look at, they’re big, and they have a lot of colors. Just really cool looking. And it’s always really exciting when you start catching a bunch of crab — the volume that comes up in every single pot.
Cdock: Do you form a strong friendship with the other guys on the boat?
Nick: I have made friends with everyone up there. We don’t really see each other except when we’re up there, because 2 of the guys live in Seattle, one is in Oregon, and one lives in Maine somewhere. But we all talk to each other and give each other a call now and then to see how things are going. It’s hard not to develop a relationship with people when you live with them for 3 months. But we also definitely get on each other’s nerves at some point or another!
Yo: Hey Nick, I saw the doors on the pots you were fishing were tied to the bottom of the pot. Everyone else’s is tied to the top. Why the difference? Thanks 😉
Nick: I’ve actually asked that same question. I believe years ago the old owner of the boat, John Jorgensen, had thought of a different way of fishing. Every boat has its own twist on crab fishing, and the Wizard‘s is the way the ropes are tied. It works out well for us.
Apgdiver: Who on the Wizard first said “Smoke My Hog”?
Nick: That would be Art Peterson. (laughing) Art, you’re a funny man!
Michelle: Do you have time to listen to music or watch movies on the ship? If so, what are you guys’ favorites?
Nick: We don’t really have time to watch movies unless we’re traveling to and from fishing, but we do listen to music on deck and when we’re inside. I like to listen to anything that’s loud and fast, to keep the adrenaline pumping.
Flygirl: How old are you?
Nick: I’m 22.
JMAN: Do you have any traditions on board the Wizard?
Nick: No, I don’t think we really do.
Buffettfan: What’s the longest you have been out to sea?
Nick: I’m not sure — we had a trip during opies that was 29 days, but during those 29 days we delivered to a floating processor. We didn’t set foot on land for 29 days, but we did stop fishing for a couple of days.
NKL-PLTE: How big of a shock was the weather for you the first time you went up north?
Nick: Oh boy. I’m from Southern California, so I don’t usually see ice or snow. Just the waves in general were pretty overwhelming at first. But I enjoy the weather. Not necessarily when it’s completely rough, but it kind of makes me get into it a little more.
Momma1998: What is your choice of weapon when you have to chip ice on deck?
Nick: (laughing) It would probably be a sledgehammer. Knock that stuff right off the deck. But ice breaking is no fun at all. When it comes time to breaking ice, everyone’s down there working hard to get it done.
Laff75: Do people ever recognize you on the street?
Nick: No, not other than people that I know or kind of know. I’ve never had anyone say, “Oh, you’re that guy from TV” which I don’t really mind. Like, “Hey, didn’t I see you getting yelled at last week?”
Cdock: When watching the show, do you learn other “tricks of the trade”?
Nick: I’m pretty hardened to the Wizard way of doing things. I notice how other boats fish, and the things that they do different. But I don’t really try to do some of the things I see other guys doing on TV.
Gentlesurf1: I live on the Gulf of Mexico, and have fished here for over 40 years. Would you ever consider fishing somewhere like the Gulf where it’s MUCH warmer?
Nick: Yeah. Depends on whether it would be worth my time.
Mugsymug: Do you guys get health insurance? Must cost a lot if you do.
Nick: I believe that we’re taken care of by the boat owner’s insurance. But I don’t have to deal with that. If I or anyone gets hurt, we get taken care of.
S Mac: What is the best fishing season you’ve had so far?
Nick: The best fishing season I ever had was opies in 2004 where we caught 411,000 pounds with 90 pots in an 8-day season.
PEL: You just wear a T-shirt and pants on deck? What about safety gear?
Nick: If I’m throwing lines around the rail and it’s rough, I’ll throw a life jacket on. And of course, I’m always wearing a knife belt in case a line got caught around me, so I could cut it off.
Buffettfan: Sometimes things don’t seem like they are. Is it as bad as it looks out on the Bering Sea?
Nick: It’s just like anywhere else as far as the weather. It could be flat calm with no wind when the sun comes up, then by noon or even earlier it could be blowing 25. The wind changes really quickly around there.
Apgdiver: Nick are you on MySpace?
Nick: Yes, I’m on MySpace.
JMAN: What age do you have to be hired onto a crab boat?
Nick: I don’t know if there’s an age. Probably over the age of 18, though. The younger, the better I would think.
Shoes: What have you learned from the experience that you believe will serve you well for the rest of your life?
Nick: I think I’ve learned to put effort into what I’m doing. and to be a hard worker. To do everything to the best of my ability.
Discovery: Thank you for being here today to enlighten us about your work and life aboard the Wizard! Do you have anything you’d like to add, before we have to close?
Nick: Enjoy all of that crab, because people are working very hard to catch it! And check out the Wizard website at www.crabwizard.com.
Discovery: Stay tuned for next week’s chat with Captain Phil Harris and his sons, Jake and Josh, from the Cornelia Marie. In the meantime, vote for your favorite boat: http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/deadliestcatch/view-vote/view-vote.html And, don’t miss the next episode of Deadliest Catch, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.