By Jessica Turner
GRAYSON- When Jack Hoxie went on a family trip to Alaska he fell in love with the place. After reluctantly coming back to Georgia, Jack found himself a nice, cushy job in Homer, Alaska: working on an oilrig five miles out in the Bering Sea from the end of September to the beginning of May.
“We would work 14 hour days, two weeks on, two weeks off,” Jack says of his life for nearly 15 years.
During his first days in Homer, Jack met a local fisherman, Johnathan Hillstrand. Johnathan was a local guy, born and raised in Alaska, working on his family’s fishing boats. The two became friends and stayed in touch through their busy careers.
On a trip back to Georgia during a two-week down time, Jack reacquainted with an old friend, Diane. The two began talking and soon began dating. Diane eventually made the move to Alaska and the two decided to get married. But they had a special officiant in mind: Jack’s old friend Captain Johnathan.
“In Alaska, you can appoint anyone to be your marriage commissioner, so we asked Jonathan to do ours,” Diane says.
Grayson resident Jack Hoxie (far right) and his brother Darryl talk with Deadliest Catch fisherman and friend Johnathan Hillstrand (center).
“Jack called me up and told me he had a tie on, so he was ready to go,” Johnathan recalls. “I was just coming back from the season, so I literally got off the boat and married them.”
Jack and Diane lived in Alaska for one year, welcoming a new member into their family, daughter Taylor.
“It was really hard up there with Jack gone for two weeks at a time with no family,” Diane says. So the Hoxies decided to make the move back to Georgia, leaving behind the land they loved. With a second little one on the way, due in July, the Hoxies are looking to the future, which just might include more time in Alaska. “It’s beautiful in the summertime. We’d like to go back in a couple years, when the kids get a little older.”
For now, a little bit of Alaska came to them this summer, as their old friend Captain Jonathan made a visit to Atlanta. But it wasn’t all for fun, well, maybe it was. If the name and face sound and look familiar, it’s because they are! Jonathan is the Captain of the F/V Time Bandit on The Discover Channel’s hit TV show, Deadliest Catch. He stopped in Atlanta for two weeks in between an appearance at the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.
“It was crazy that the NASCAR guys recognized us,” Jonathan says of he and his fellow captains on the show: Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern, Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie and Greg Moncrief of the F/V Farwest Leader. “It was my first race and we were down in the pits. I’ve never been a huge fan of
NASCAR, but it was pretty cool. I met a lot of the drivers and Dale Jr. gave me a racing jacket.”
In his second season as on Deadliest Catch, Captain Jonathan made a name for himself with the documented rescue of a member of a fellow fishing vessel.
The drama was caught on camera, but it wasn’t the first time such a rescue has been made.
“It was very emotional,” Jonathan says of the aftermath of the rescue of Josh White. Following the taping of the season, the captains gathered in Dutch Harbor for a recap of the season where they saw the footage of the rescue for the first time. “The Bering Sea is ruthless, it can take anybody at anytime.”
Crab pots stacked high on deck being prepared to be set out to sea and reeled in, hopefull, filled with crab.
Jonathan is grateful for the opportunity to be on the show, especially since he passed when offered to appear in the first season. “I was too cool, too good to be on TV,” he says in his husky voice from years of smoking and working in the harshest conditions. “But once I thought about it, it seemed like a good was to document our seasons, and all of a sudden it’s a hit. It brought us captains together. I had known Phil for ten years before I ever met him in person for the show. If it wasn’t for the show, we never would have been friends.”
And while reality TV will always be reality TV, with Jonathan, what you see is what you get. “We’re not PC, we don’t have much compassion on deck,” he says. “Leave your problems at home, if your girlfriend left you and you whine about it, we will remind you of it everyday! Don’t complain that you’re cold, we’re all cold, just shut up and fish!”
This particular Friday afternoon, Jonathan was enjoying a cold beer while helping Jack refinish his kitchen cabinet doors. Wearing a cut-off sleeveless t-shirt and his signature backwards black hat and unkept beard, it’s clear that being recognized from time to time has hardly changed this fisherman.
“It’s cool to get recognized,” he says. On a recent lunch to Journey’s End in Loganville, several members of the Loganville Police Department recognized him. “It seems like policemen, fire fighters, love the show.”
Jonathan will keep busy in July and August fishing salmon, then be back at the helm for two months of king crab season beginning in October, then the brutal opilio crab season that spans January through March. During opilio season, Jonathan’s brother Andy assumes captain duties while Jonathan hits the deck with the rest of the crew.
“There’s nothing like being on a fishing boat in the middle of the Bering Sea,” he says, his eyes shining with excitement, amazing considering his 27 years in the business. “Everything from the weather, to the sounds of the medal pods banging against the boat, the smells, being somewhere where nothing is on stable ground, it’s brutal.”
In his downtime, Jonathan enjoys spending time with family and friends in Alaska, Seattle and Hawaii where “everyday is a Saturday.”
The Hoxies and Jonathan are teaming up to bring the catch seen on Deadliest Catch to the homes of America. “We’re working on a website where you can order fresh crab, right off the Time Bandit,” Diane says.
“Once you have fresh, Alaskan crab, there’s nothing like it,” Jack says.
“I can never get tired of eating crab, right out of the pot,” Jonathan says.
For more information about the Time Bandit, visit them at http://www.timebandit.tv and for more information on how you can purchase some of the Time Bandit’s catch, call Jack Hoxie at 1-907-299-3842.