So who doesn’t love Russell Newberry, veteran deckhand on the F/V Time Bandit? Since he joined the show, he’s been a prominent fisherman and speaker on both ‘Deadliest Catch’ and ‘After the Catch’. And here’s what you may not know…Russell Newberry is a lifesaver and I’m not just referring to the dramatic rescue he and the Time Bandit crew executed in season 3 of ‘Deadliest Catch’. Russell has also been instrumental in saving the life of Capt. Johnathan Hillstrand, as the skipper himself, explains in his book “Time Bandit”. Haven’t read it yet? you may want to consider doing so but in the meantime, check out one of discovery’s last livechats of the season, below:
Discovery: Welcome to our weekly Deadliest Catch chat series. Tonight’s guest is Russell Newberry, deck boss of the Time Bandit. Find out what he thought of Season 4 on the show and what life at sea with the Hillstrands is really like.
Russell Newberry: Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum! I hope everyone’s maintaining an even keel!
Bandita TBM Erin: RUSS! Thanks for taking time from fishing to join us. What does your family, especially your daughter, think of your newfound fame of being on the show?
Russell Newberry: My daughter is just starting to watch TV and she realizes that it’s being a hit show and kids are asking her in school. I think overall she is enjoying the whole experience of watching me on TV.
Bandita Jackie: Hi Russell, Bandita Jax here. How has being on Deadliest Catch changed your life?
Russell Newberry: Ha! Well, you know, I can’t believe it took the Deadliest Catch 45 years to discover me! Why did I have to go through 20 years of crabbing to finally be discovered? LOL Jake and Josh, they’re 20 year old kids – why couldn’t I have been discovered when I was 20? 🙂
Erika: What was the hardest lesson you ever learned on any ship and why?
Russell Newberry: The first lesson you learn is you be quick or you be squished. Get the heck out of the way, and watch everything around you. There are so many bad situations that can happen, so the way the boat rolls or something comes loose on the boat, it can be a dangerous situation all around. The main thing we try to do is keep the water on the outside of the boat!
Stephanie: From a deckhand’s point of view, what is the most demanding job on a crab boat?
Russell Newberry: Everybody on the boat has to keep their eyes and ears open. The most dangerous job is just trying to keep the boat afloat, and it’s hard to relax when you’re on a boat. As Captain Andy likes to say, complacency will kill you. So it’s hard to stay on top of everything and keep aware. It’s very light sleeping.
Sigsgurl: Hi Russ! Thanks for joining us! I was wondering…is John as crazy off camera as he is on?
Russell Newberry: Johnathan is the same all the time. If you want to see something change, you’d better go to the weather. Johnathan is just a fun guy to be around all the time.
CorneliaStephanie: Hey Russell! What is your least/most favorite memory from the Bering Sea?
Russell Newberry: My least favorite is the year we didn’t catch any crab. My favorite is the year we caught more than anyone else.
Bandita Paris: Hey Russ, Bandita Paris here. How large was the biggest salmon you’ve ever caught?
Russell Newberry: Me personally, I caught a 67 pound king salmon but the world record is 97.2 pounds.
Slithinator: Russ, what is it like working with the Hillstrand brothers?
Russell Newberry: First of all, they get the job done collectively. It’s like Andy gets up in the morning and gets everyone going, does the paperwork, and then he bows out and goes and does skipper stuff. Then Neal gets up at 11 and takes over, and we work until 8 or so. It’s like passing the baton. When we’re finished with Neal, then Johnathan takes over and says we have to go to the bar. He says that he’ll hire you, but if you have to hang out with him, you’ll probably get fired. 🙂
Dawn: Evening Russ. You are in fish camp right now, correct? How long is that season, and is that regulated by government or nature?
Russell Newberry: Yes, we are in fish camp. We’re trying to catch Alaskan wild salmon and it lasts approximately the month of July. Unfortunately the government does step in the way a little much. The general rule is everything is done by nature, and we get regulated by the government and sometimes overregulated. But it’s overseen by how many fish we can catch collectively as a fleet.
Karen: What is the MAJOR responsibility of a deck boss?
Russell Newberry: First of all, you have to pay attention to everybody and what they’re doing. As an experienced deckhand on a boat, you can look around and it’s not only what you see, but also what you hear. There’s a lot of crane stuff with these big pots so you have to use your ears all the time too. Like I said, you have to keep on eye on everybody else at all times.
Abby19: Russ, do you watch the show each week if you are able to? How do you like seeing yourself on TV?
Russell Newberry: No, I don’t watch every week; it depends on how my salmon fishing is going. Sometimes I can pick up reruns. I don’t know how they’re going to edit the show, so it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time even though I’m the star of the show! I’ve taken lots of videos in the past, and I’ve always thought people would be interested in watching that kind of show.
Hollie: Hi Russ, thanks for taking time out to be here with us. I just wanted to know, apart from fishing…what’s your favorite pastime?
Russell Newberry: Hmmm….let’s see. I very much enjoy riding my motorcycle with my dad. I’m an avid snowmobiler in the winter. And I very much enjoy taking my daughter to fun things. She’s a good age to go to amusement parks like Disney World and Six Flags. She will be 8 in September, so I’m still the hero in her eyes. I really enjoy this age – when she started going to school and learning how to raise her hand, and whatnot.
Time Bandit Fan: Russell, what were you feeling during the rescue of Josh White last year?
Russell Newberry: I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe there was a chance that I was going to have to get into the Bering Sea for the first time in my career. This went on in my mind about 20 seconds before I got on deck. There was a lot going through my mind as I got my survival suit on and prepared to actually get in the water. Fortunately he wasn’t in the water long enough, so he still had his faculties. So when we got to him, he was able to help get himself into the boat.
BeringQueen: Hey Russ, congrats on an awesome season, as far as we have seen any how. I am a new DC addict and was wondering what it means when y’all are talking about “new crab” moving in? Thanks for your time and God Bless the DC crew!!!
Russell Newberry: Crab are down there milling around, and they migrate. Some of the older crab stay in one spot, so we’re capable of catching all the crab in one spot. We have honey holes and highways that the crab like moving in, so “new crab” means there’s a band of crab down there and they’re moving through.
Chettas Mom: Hi Russ, how soaking wet do your clothes actually get underneath your outer gear and how warm are the rooms where you guys eat/sleep etc.? What is the temperature?
Russell Newberry: Inside the house it’s like living in a house. It’s as warm as I want to make it in my room, sometimes too warm. We have heaters and thermostats, so we live very comfortably. But I get pretty wet underneath depending on the weather and if the waves are coming over the bow. I always have to put my raincoat hood on, and I always wear a baseball hat so I can duck behind the bill of it, so to speak.
Bandita SeaSteph: Hey Russ! What is the name of the boat you fish on for salmon season? Do you own it and how long is it?
Russell Newberry: I own a 32 foot aluminum commercial Gillnetter in Cook Inlet, Alaska where we catch wild Alaskan salmon. It is called the Wildcat.
Jenn: How do you guys not get hypothermia working in below freezing temperatures with freezing spray?
Russell Newberry: First of all, we keep ourselves dry. We start out wearing layered clothing, and any time we get cold, we can go in and change our clothes. You fall down and get wet, you can go in and change any time you want. On the Time Bandit we have a 2 man sauna, and it just stays on all the time. It’s 100 degrees in there, so I can open the door and sit in there with my rain gear on. That’s why Johnathan named me Insauna Bin Russell. The in-sauna asylum!
Florida Cin: Hello Russell from sunny Florida…..Have you read the Time Bandit book? And if you did what did you think of it? Also aren’t you supposed to be fishing salmon now?
Russell Newberry: Yes I did read the book. I’m in the book! I enjoyed the book (of course, I’m biased). I liked it and these guys are friends of mine, so I was glad someone came up with the idea to write a book. And I am currently fishing salmon in Cook Inlet, Alaska.
Seattle Texan: Hi Russell. Neil retired from deckwork this year, but aren’t you and the Hillstrands about the same age? How long do you plan on continuing to work on deck?
Russell Newberry: Yeah, I am – Johnathan’s a year older than me, and I’m a year older than Andy. I feel pretty good physically. Of course, every time I’ve gone out on a boat, every single trip I’ve made since I was 20ish, I’ve said I’m never going to do this again. Then again at the end of every trip, I go to the bank all moneyed up with 2 months off, so I kind of like the lifestyle. As far as retiring, there’s a fine line between retiring and being unemployed. 🙂
Bencha68: Hi Russell, it’s an honor to be talking to you. I’ve noticed that when it comes to fishing on the Bering Sea, superstition plays a big role. What role does it play on the Time Bandit?
Russell Newberry: We try to pay attention to the superstitions, but we don’t practice them when there’s crab to be caught. We knock on wood and do the silly things, but when it’s time to go crabbing, it’s time to go crabbing.
Tabi: Hi Russ, greetings from Southern Ontario! You work in a unique situation where you have different captains for king crab and opilio. Who is your favourite boss and the one you prefer at the wheel, Andy or Johnathan?
Russell Newberry: First of all, they both can catch crab, and that’s the number one thing. I don’t care who’s up there- it can be King Kong, and if he can catch crab, I don’t care. Johnathan and Andy have different styles for catching crab. Andy’s way more methodical and scientific, whereas Johnathan tries to think like a crab and go on gut instinct.
Millicent: Hi Russell! Thank you for chatting with us this evening! I was just wondering if you all listen to music on the deck or just listen to the sound of the waves and each other talking?
Russell Newberry: We’ve listened to very loud classic rock’n’roll, but now that the Discovery Channel is involved, we’re not allowed to play music so they can capture all the little things we say for the camera. But yes, we would like to listen to more music.
Megan8291: What is it like to have so many people of the same family on the boat?
Russell Newberry: LOL Well there were 4 Hillstrands on the boat at one point, and it’s all right. They’re a family of fishermen from way back and they know what needs to be done. They’re good hard workers, and they’re fun to be around.
LauraC: Hi Russ! I love your sense of humor and you are my favorite deckhand! We hear over and over that being a deckhand is for guys in their 20’s. How are you able to keep up with all these deckhands that are half your age? Is it because you’ve been working on boats for a long time, or do you have an anti-aging secret 🙂
Russell Newberry: LOL Yes, I have found the Fountain of Youth. The difference between myself and a younger deckhand is I have enough experience to know when to sit down! I know when it’s time to take a nap. I’ve learned shortcuts, one of which being getting in and out of my gear as quick as possible. The new guys on the boat, it takes 15 minutes to get into their gear. Me, it takes 30 seconds. I have a routine I’ve had for years, and I can do it in my sleep now. A lot of guys need to get up, drink a pot of coffee, smoke a pack of cigarettes. For me, it’s kind of like Superman going through a phone booth – I put on my boots and just get out on the deck.
Cornelia Stephanie: Hey Russell! what is the brand of gear you guys wear, the orange bibs?
Russell Newberry: It’s called Grundens of Sweden. And it’s good. There are several different brands of rain gear out there, and I’ve tried them all. Each brand is a little different – how you like the sleeves, collar, snaps, etc. Grundens fit me comfortably. For me, I can tell when I’m not wearing Grundens and if I have something else on.
Kaylee: How long does it actually take for the pot to come up off the bottom? In the show, the time between is always edited out.
Russell Newberry: Right, you stand there. The time you turn the block on full bore to the time it hits the bottom of the boat is anywhere from a minute to a minute and a half. That’s depending on whether you’re king crabbing or opilio crabbing because the lines are longer for opies. That gives you enough time between pots to clear the table. So it takes us longer to catch the opies than it does the king crab.
Crowe Sean: Even among the various crews of the crab fleet, the Time Bandit crew seems to have a sort of “cowboy” mentality. Do you think your crew is that much more wild than your cohorts, or is that just a product of the show?
Russell Newberry: I wouldn’t say “wild” is the word, I’d say the camaraderie on our boat makes us look more wild because we go out in one great big group. You don’t see a whole lot of fighting going on on our vessel.
Therod: What is the purpose of those orange glasses you wear while working on deck and where did you get them?
Russell Newberry: Every time I wipe those glasses off with a rag, my eyeballs thank me because otherwise everything on them would be in my eyes. Safety first, safety always. Those are a safety product from the Prudhoe
Bay oil fields. A friend of mine supplies me with them.
Lhiiiz: Russ, what’s your favorite thing that you’ve gotten to do since you’re on DC?
Russell Newberry: My favorite thing, off the television? I got involved with a NASCAR team, Jamerson Motorsports. Go Number 84! They’ve taken me under their wing, and taken me to various NASCAR events. I’m looking forward to the fall so I can go to some more.
Aryli: Hi, Russell. Thanks for being here tonight. In the book Time Bandit, Johnathan tells us about how his boat, Fishing Fever, lost power and was drifting. You found his boat and towed him out of danger. How did you know something was wrong with Johnathan and what were you thinking when you found him?
Russell Newberry: First of all, we try to keep track of everyone. We had an opening that day, so there were 200 boats out. It was flat calm that day, so nobody was worried. Sometimes we lose contact phone wise and radio wise because everyone’s going out in different directions. When we came back to fish camp, normally since I’m the slowest, I’m the last one in. So when I came in and Johnathan wasn’t there, I started to get concerned. So I went looking for him, and ended up finding him. When I found him, I thought phew, he’s still floating! And then prepared myself for the long trip home.
NosyNora: So Russ, how has your social life changed since this time last year? Still have to introduce yourself to women?
Russell Newberry: I’m not one of the skippers, you know, the more popular faces on the show. I still have to bring up the subject of the Deadliest Catch and then they go, “Oh, that’s you? Oh, the Time Bandit is my favorite. Johnathan’s my favorite!” I tell people I’m the Ringo Starr of the Time Bandit crew.
Lauren: Hi! I was just wondering who is the messiest in the bunks? Or are all of you guys organized? Good luck fishing and be safe!!
Russell Newberry: All right, this is putting me on the spot – who’s the pig on the boat? I can’t say, because his last name starts with an H. So you can take your pick! I can’t disclose that information; someone would get mad at me.
Stargate: Hey Russell, how do they get the shots of the boats when they are out on sea? Is the Time Bandit trailed by other boats? Does that make you feel safer?
Russell Newberry: Yeah, I guess I can say there’s another boat comes out and films us to get a different viewing perspective. And yes, it’s comforting to know there’s another vessel over there floating. So it’s nice. And there’s lots of boats out crabbing, in the vast Bering Sea.
WI Dan: You sound like a very intelligent man. What’s your educational background?
Russell Newberry: LOL Well I have a high school diploma, but I went to college for 3 years. Growing up in Alaska, you went one of three ways in the late 70s – either the North Slope for the oil fields, or the Bering Sea, or you went to college. I took the third option, and went to college in Montana. Then I realized that I could make more money going crabbing than I could with the teaching degree I was enrolled in.
Angelo: Hi Russell. Just watched you on After The Catch. Do you get sea sick on the boat, and where do you live when not out fishing?
Russell Newberry: When I get back on the boat in October, the first 12-24 hours I’ll get queasy. I don’t get throwing up seasick, though. Then I get my sea legs, and then I’m fine. Johnathan gets seasick every time, but he shakes it off every single time. I live in a quaint fishing village with a drinking problem (or is it a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem? LOL) up in Alaska.
Sheryl: Hi Russell, how do the seasons run for Red Crab and Opilio Crab? Are there certain opening days and a day when you must be finished? What were the dates for the past season?
Russell Newberry: The red king crab starts October 15 every year, and it runs until everyone catches their quota. The canneries dictate when the season’s going to close, when everyone has to bring their quota in. The canneries give us a short time to catch our crab, otherwise they won’t buy them from us because they’re going to move on to process other seafood.
Bandita TBM Cap: Hiya Russ, thanks for chatting! How do you like the “new and improved” Time Bandit?
Russell Newberry: I haven’t actually seen it yet. I do know we took the boat to Seattle because we had ice damage issues from last year. I know they cut the bow off, and rebuilt another bow in a shop somewhere in Seattle and reattached it. Then they gave the whole boat a much needed cosmetic makeover and a new crane, things we have to actually use on deck. I’m excited to see the boat, but I won’t see it until probably October.
Crazy4crab: What is the worst damage the Time Bandit has had so far?
Russell Newberry: We got caught in the ice pack last year and it damaged the front of the boat so badly we had to get it repaired. I wasn’t scared for my life; I knew I could get off the boat and walk across the ice pack to shore. I knew we were just going to wait. Of course, the ice could crush the Time Bandit like a tin can, then I would have waited on the ice for a Coast Guard helicopter to come and get me.
Trinity: Hey Russell! I live on the east coast of Canada, in the province of Nova Scotia and I was wondering if you (or anyone you know) have ever done any fishing in the North Atlantic Ocean? If so, how does it compare to the Bering Sea?
Russell Newberry: Johnathan had some sort of operation out of Massachusetts, so he’s familiar with that part of the country. I think he fished there 3 years before he went full time in Alaska. I’ m not exactly sure what happened, but he says the waters there can be just as rough as they are here and you can drown just as easy over there as you can over here!
AZ Valentine: Hey Russ, greetings from AZ! When you met the Hillstrand brothers back in the day, did you all become fast friends or did they grow on you? Ha Ha? 🙂
Russell Newberry: As kids growing up, we were all looking for kids to hang around with. With all the fishing stuff we did, we just naturally gravitated towards each other because we all liked fishing and outdoor stuff – it’s just what we did in the summertimes.
Eric and Annie in Wy: You appear to have a genuine concern for the safety of the crew, so much so that I think I would feel comfortable working there. What is the first thing you tell a new guy on deck?
Russell Newberry: LOL The first thing is I go through our orientation on the boat where I show them the fire extinguishers and how to work the radios, etc. Especially the engine room check. Most people don’t know anything about the motors and gauges, so I tell them, “What I want to hear from you, I want it to be loud, I want it to be hot, and especially I want it to be dry. If it isn’t all of those three, wake somebody up!”
Crowe Sean: As a senior deckhand, do you find yourself as something of a mentor to the greenhorns? Does that make it difficult when they falter?
Russell Newberry: I hope so. I hope they’re learning something from me, even if mentor isn’t the word. If they would do the job like I do it, then they would be getting it done one way. There are different ways to do things on a boat, but I just learned my little routine and stick with it. I know lots of shortcuts. I don’t know everything, and I haven’t seen everything but I’ve seen quite a bit.
Crazy4crab: What is with the deal with a gal being bad juju on a boat and does that mean working vessels only?
Russell Newberry: It’s an old superstition that goes way back that women are bad luck on a boat. When you have lots of men on a boat, and you throw in a few women, there aren’t enough for everybody so you’re going to have some fighting.
Ocjack: Hi Russ, what do you think it’s going to take to keep Johanthan out of the water next season? Between falling off the boat, and in the tank, it seems he couldn’t keep dry last season!
Russell Newberry: LOL Well, he’s in control of his own two feet, so all he has to do is watch!
Jfarges: I know that there’s a lot of movement on the boat and I was wondering if you ever fell out of bed or had trouble eating because of bad weather?
Russell Newberry: People don’t realize that the floor underneath you is constantly moving, so it’s very hard to relax. It’s not like I can just sit in a chair and relax, because when I’m in that chair, I’m moving at all times. When we’re in the galley eating dinner, I have to keep one hand on my coffee or drink so it doesn’t slide. And when I go to my bunk, it’s moving right before me. I have a little piece of plywood that I can stuff down next to me when it’s rough, and sort of wedge myself in, so to speak.
Cmdrpoppinfresh: Who is the one guy you’d take fishing on the Bering Sea before anyone else?
Russell Newberry: That goes way back. For me it goes back to my dear friend David Martin, who I worked with for 15 years before I got involved with the Time Bandit. And of course, any of the 12 Playmates. 🙂 Aquaman would be another good one.
IndianScout2k1: I think the crab boats with the wheelhouse forward look the best, but I think the boats with the wheelhouse aft are the better setup. Which do you prefer and why?
Russell Newberry: There’s a couple of advantages. A house forward boat breaks all the weather coming onto the deck. A house aft boat can be better because the skipper is watching you at all times. When you step onto a boat, the bow of the boat is more active than the stern of the boat, so it’s a more comfortable ride on a house aft boat. It’s not near as active when you’re lying in your bunk.
Blue Fox: Hi Russ. It’s obvious that the Time Bandit crew is a crew known for pranks. Although we’ve seen the big ones on the show, have there ever been any you yourself have thought up and executed?
Russell Newberry: Well we’ve done…oh yeah, we’ve done lots of things like sewing the bottoms of your rain gear so when you go to put your boot in, you can’t slide your foot all the way in, but you don’t know it until you’re in a hurry to get on deck. We’ve done some other stuff too, but I can’t talk about it here. 🙂
Jensue: Hi from WV! What’s a favorite meal for the crew to eat when ya’all get a moment to eat?
Russell Newberry: We try to eat one big meal a day, and everything else is fend for yourself – microwave something or make a sandwich. Neal will go in and cook usually once a day or so. Meat and potatoes, chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese and hot dogs are my favorites. We eat a lot of breakfast. That seems to be a big hit. The packaged lasagnas – we throw a couple of those in the oven to bake while we’re on deck, then we can come and eat after work. Neal is not allowed to cook chicken because it brings “fowl” weather. 🙂
KingsBellinghamWa: Do any of you keep in contact with the young man you rescued? High 5 on a spectacular rescue!
Russell Newberry: Thank you for that. The end of the story is that Johnathan ended up hiring him for the summer season that the Time Bandit does, and apparently the guy fell off the boat again. Johnathan said he hired him when he was floating, and he fired him when he was floating. First rule of being on a boat is stay on the boat!
CathyB: Hi Russ, I love your one liners. What is that “thing” you sometimes wear diagonally over your rain gear?
Russell Newberry: That’s my knife belt. Most people wear it around their waist, but I like to wear it bandoleer-style because otherwise it makes my rain gear bunch up. Always carry a knife when you’re on a boat.
Cagneysue: What is the one thing you take with you when you go to sea that you couldn’t live without?
Russell Newberry: A picture of my daughter that I take with me. Other than that, just my gear. I don’t have superstitions or trinkets or anything like a lucky charm, so to speak. And of course, all the Hugh Hefner novels. I’d like to thank Hugh for getting me through the slow times on the boat.
Blue Fox: Hi Russ. Fun question for ya: when you’re out on the Bering Sea and you’re not on deck for whatever reason, what’s your favorite thing to do below deck?
Russell Newberry: Sleep! Not have to do anything. We watch lots of movies and read lots of books. So it’s very much a relax time for the 2-3 days we have to go on a boat ride. It’s nice to take a break from work and not have much to do except watch the GPS and wonder how long it will take us to get to town so we can go to the local “churches” when we get there. 🙂
Rennen: Russell, have you played the Deadliest Catch Game?
Russell Newberry: No I haven’t. In fact, the younger guys that work for me this summer have picked up the game, and we’re going to experiment with it here in the next couple of weeks.
Mittie: Sometimes you guys are sorting so fast I wondered if any females get in the tank by accident?
Russell Newberry: No, you can tell a big difference between the males and the females – the females are much, much smaller. But occasionally one slips by. We get a limited amount of leeway, but we try to keep it clean.
Creeper45: Do you ever worry or think about pirates on the Bering Sea? I know that sounds stupid, but I know they’re out there. Also, are there rifles on every boat? What’s allowed as far as weapons on your boat?
Russell Newberry: As far as I know, we can carry anything that’s legal as long as we have the paperwork. As far as Blackbeard pirates, no. But I’m sure they’re out there, stealing crab out of our pots, which is taking money out of our pockets. But as far as getting boarded, “don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” swashbuckling adventure – no. Most people are pretty good about that, it seems to me anyhow.
MissBrei: What kind of reaction did you guys have on the boat when word of Phil’s illness reached you?
Russell Newberry: Well, it was sad to start with. But it was OK, now you need to start thinking about your health. We certainly don’t want any of us to get sick or die. Now he’s got to start thinking about seriously taking care of himself.
DMK: Russ, how long does it take for you to decompress after the season?
Russell Newberry: I just got off my little boat today, and I was walking like a drunken sailor. You get that motion going from the rocking and rolling of the boat, so when I get to shore it takes 12 hours before I can walk a straight line. I notice it when I’m standing in the shower because the whole shower’s moving. And I notice it when I’m in a vehicle with someone because I’ve been going 4-6 mph, and all of a sudden I’m going 50 mph and it’s like WHOAAA!
Discovery: Russell, thank you for being here tonight to answer so many questions! Is there anything you’d like to add, before we have to end the chat?
Russell Newberry: Wow, that went by fast! That was fun. Just the old adage – Old sailors never die, they just drop anchor and keel over.