More on Sig Hansen in New Zealand…

 Captain Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern gave this interview in New Zealand on October 4th.  With the opening of this year’s 2007 King crab season on the horizon (Oct. 15th), this may be the last time we hear directly from him for a little while

Captain Sig Hansen is a fourth generation fisherman who operates in the treacherous Bering Sea, Alaska. He’s one of the stars of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, which follows the borderline crazy members of the fishing boat fleet during king crab season. Every year they are faced with giant waves, 130km/h winds, and subfreezing weather making it the “most dangerous job in the world”.

So Sig, is it one of the most dangerous jobs in the world?
It’s up there. The statistics over the years prove that. But we’re not proud of that and, you know, I don’t think before the show aired that any of the fishermen contemplated it that way and it was never a big issue. It was always this big secret. Fishermen are very secretive. So as far as it being the most dangerous job in the world, it wasn’t really thought of. We just go out and try to make money and the show brought attention to that. We always knew it was dangerous, we always knew it was high-risk, but we never really took it to heart.

Why do you as a captain have such a good safety record?
It’s because we’ve always had the same people on the boat. My brothers are on there and we’ve had some people for 20 years and that teamwork makes it safer. The communication between them and me is good.

But still…
Oh yeah. I can run the boat better than everybody else because I’ve been there longer than anybody else and I know her limitations better than anybody else. So when I push the envelope I can do that, and there are times when the guys have come up to the wheelhouse for a chat and they are looking out and they’re like, “Holy crap”. They can’t believe what they are seeing.

What does it take to be on your crew – mentally and physically?
I think it’s 70 per cent mental and 30 per cent physical. It’s definitely more mental because you don’t have to be a big guy. Being big doesn’t hurt but you’ve really got to want to be there and the dumber you are the better. Guys that can listen and learn routines, and if they can learn our way then they will be all right. It’s kind of like this military thing but it may save their life one day.

Are you still amazed at what you see out there?
I think the older I get the more I start to think, ‘When is your time coming?’ We’ve been lucky. We haven’t lost any windows, or lost any electrics because a wave has gone through the wheelhouse. But we’ve pushed the envelope and at the same time we’re careful enough to know our limits.

So is fishing in the blood?
I think so. I care more about it than most people because I have something to prove. I’m fourth generation so you hear all these stories about your great grandfather, your grandfather and your father and you just want to prove yourself. It doesn’t always mean you have to be number one, or even try to be, but as long as you can make money and be above average and keep that steady income then you’ve proven yourself.

What stories inspire you to keep fishing in such a dangerous area?
As a child growing up you hear all these stories of boats going down, record-breaking crab seasons. When my grandfather was fishing herring in Norway and they filled the boat to the point where they sank it. And my father, who passed away a few years ago now, he has a great reputation and people always bragged about him, he never bragged about himself and it’s just that whole kind of attitude that shines through.

With the amount of money you guys make you must be a very wealthy man. Why do you keep doing it every year?
I suppose if we had to quit right now we could manage. But it’s all I know, it’s my job and I’m still young so we’ve got a few years left in us. Put it this way: it’s our responsibility to do it and you don’t just leave your boat sitting at the dock.

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5 Responses to More on Sig Hansen in New Zealand…

  1. Cris says:

    Alrighty then… you read it here first….. in order to work on the Northwestern ….. ” Being big doesn’t hurt but you’ve really got to want to be there and the dumber you are the better. ” hehehe ! I just LOVE Sig’s honesty!

  2. Carol says:

    I love watching Sig too. It’s too bad he’s such a busy guy… schedules clashed and we couldn’t get him down to Houston. My husband (Torbjorn) was born and raised in Norway plus his sister and our nephew (Kristin og Aksel) flew in from Norway for the Houston Hot Sauce Festival this year. Maybe next time!

  3. Manele says:

    Thanks Sig for continuing to educate us about the true culture that is your industry and life blood, you guys are the best! Good luck this month!

  4. i lve sig hansen he the best ever hes such a gud captain and he dont take no sit frm no one i wish he could come to new zealand and fish alittile with us kiwi I LVE SIG HANSEN frm jsutine ur number one kiwi fan

  5. Patty Gitmed says:

    Hi my name is patty i am a HUGE fan of yours, ive seen every episode,well almost lol. I am a 37 year old soon to be a grandma in august, and you are making me buy your video game lol. I have a 19 year old and a 17 year old both girls my grand baby is going to be a girl to. I listen to you talk about your mail it makes me laugh !!! marriage proposals there are some crazy people out there. I just wanted to say hey !!!! and sig dont let all the fans go to your head lol….. stay the way you are. you seem to be a kind man. You know out of all the famous people in the world you would be the one I would love to meet. And just to let you know I hate seafood all of it lol. I am not one of those crazy people I just think you are real and would love to meet you and the northwestern. not out to sea either lol not moving would be good lol.

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