This is Doug Stanley’s 8th blog entry about his travels with the F/V Timebandit. His blog posts coincide with the eighth episode of Deadliest Catch we’re about to watch this evening.
ENTRY No. 8 Wind Whipped
As we were leaving the port of Dutch Harbor and heading out into increasing winds and seas, the Time Bandit’s deckhands climbed the stack of pots. The vessel’s two captains, Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand, watched each one of them intently through the wheelhouse windows. Each deckhand was wearing a new safety device, a chest harness. Russell, one of the deckhands, also carried a coil of rope that he intended to use to lower the other deckhands over the edge of the pots in order to tighten the chains that secure the stack.
As the deckhands were belayed over the edge and into danger, Andy and Johnathan discussed how they had each been affected by their recent rescue of another vessel’s deckhand. They had been touched to the soul by the event. As he spoke, Johnathan almost came to tears. Andy said that in his dreams he still hears the guy yelling, “Help me … Save my life!”
We all watched closely as the deckhands completed their risky duties. They soon returned safely to the deck and into the vessel’s galley, happy with the results of their extreme-conditions test of the new safety gear. At that moment we were suddenly shaken. There was a terrible crash and the whole ship shuddered. It felt like the Time Bandit had just been lashed by a giant whip.
After the impact, Johnathan and I locked eyes. We had just seen a helicopter flying overhead. Both of us assumed the same thing — the helicopter had just crashed into the stern of our ship. We quickly ran to the back door of the wheelhouse, opened it and stared outside at the stern. Everything was intact. Outside Johnathan turned to me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Wind!” I was shocked, and he was, too. It had been a burst of wind like none of us had ever experienced before. We laughed and shook our heads.
With Priest’s Rock just off our starboard rail, Andy brought the boat around to port in a complete 360-degree circle, a “Time Bandit left-hand turn.” This Hillstrand family custom is used to shake off any bad luck. As the boat was spinning I laughed to myself. I was headed out into the Bering Sea for my fourth winter.