Production Diary #11: ICEBOUND

Doug Stanley is a producer and director of photography for Deadliest Catch.  He was part of the two-man crew that travelled with the F/V Timebandit during the filming of season 3.  Every week he posts an entry in his Production blog or diary that always coincides with the episode airing that evening, or in this case…this evening.  Enjoy!

Entry #11:  ICEBOUND

Ice was forming rapidly on the Time Bandit. I figured that it was time to put down the camera and help the deckhands remove some of it. You have to earn your safekeeping on a ship. I tossed on my iPod, put on some rock ‘n’ roll, and started swinging a hard plastic sledgehammer to the beat. Over the next several hours, ice, pain and music all flowed together. As I worked, the ice continued to form. It felt like we were losing the battle and this worried me. I had lost a battle with ice before.

The previous winter I was aboard the Maverick when the vessel became icebound. The Maverick was iced up, full of crab and had a stack of pots on deck. Though the vessel’s captain, Rick Quashnick, desperately needed to get his catch back to a safe port where it could be unloaded, he was deeply concerned with storm warnings he had received from the National Weather Service. High winds and heavy freezing spray were forecast.

Rick was agitated and uncertain. Unwilling to face the oncoming ice storm, he surprised everyone on board by turning the boat and heading back into the ice. At the time I thought he was going crazy. Now I can see that he chose the least of two evils. At least we would not have to face big waves within the ice pack.

As the Maverick headed into the pack, all of the deckhands were beating ice off the rails and deck. The propellers struggled with the thickening ice. The sound of their scraping and grating intensified the energy of the moment. Surely we could not afford to break the propellers or lose the rudder. Rick was wild and intense. Some of the deckhands were second-guessing the captain’s decision and the mood on the boat went black. Moments later we were done. The Maverick could go no farther. Captain Rick threw his hands in the air in despair, turned the main engines off, and headed into his stateroom.

Not a single person onboard the Maverick escaped the fleeting sensations of doom. Staring across a frozen sea of ice in near silence, I stood outside on the deck feeling completely helpless as I felt the sting of the increasing north winds upon my face. Little did I know that these same north winds would bring our salvation. They would eventually blow us south, the ice would break up, and we would be free again.

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