What do these fishermen have in common?

Nick Mavar, Jake Anderson, John Mavar. (Photo courtesy of Matt Wallis)

What do Nick Mavar, Jake Anderson, and John Mavar have in common?  Besides the fact that they’re all from Anacortes, Washington and they’ve all been featured on “Deadliest Catch”, they also all happen to be related!  That’s right, Nick Mavar (Northwestern) and John Mavar–the almost saintly deckhand from the F/V Far West Leader, who suffered a season of verbal abuse from deckboss Chilly, are brothers and Jake Anderson (Northwestern) is their nephew!  Marta  Mervosh writes about the Mavar clan in goskagit.com 

Discovery Channel documentary series features three Anacortes fishermen

Imagine sliding on an icy, storm-tossed deck of a fishing boat, trying to pull fully loaded crab pots, each weighing 2,000 pounds, from the depths of the Bering Sea.

Millions of dollars ride on your concentration, skill, speed and endurance to do a dangerous job. If you’re lucky, you’re running on a couple hours of sleep.

And then a cameraman gets in your face and starts asking questions.

Welcome to the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” an Emmy-nominated cable television series that for three seasons has followed five boats to spotlight the dangerous job of Alaskan crab fishing in the Bering Sea. The series is expected to last five seasons.

Three Anacortes fishermen — brothers Nick and John Mavar and Jake Anderson, a nephew of the Mavars — are among the crew members featured in the series.

When the series returns for its fourth season Tuesday, April 15, Anderson and Nick Mavar will be onboard the Northwestern, along with fan favorites Captain Sig Hansen and deck boss Edgar Hansen…

…Continued here


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The Show, the Men, Dutch Harbor, the Cameras & Crab Fishing

Charles McGrath’s all-defining article Commercial Fishermen, Battling the Elements Between Commercials, first appeared in the New York Times last week and has since then, been posted in many online journals and websites and now Deadliest Reports as well.  It pretty much covers all of the elements of “Deadliest Catch”, from life in Dutch Harbor to the difficulties of trying to film such an ambitious project; From the story lines that producers must craft from the filming to the reasons why Original Productions and Discovery choose the specific crews that we eventually become familiar with; from the clashing and meshing between the camera crews and natives of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, to the dynamics in the relationships between the camermen and the fishermen who are filmed.  It’s all in this article and if you haven’t run into it yet on the web, you should consider giving it a read!  From the New York Post….

Commercial Fishermen who are filmed for the show Battling the Elements Between Commercials

(Donald Bland/Discovery Channel) Norman Hansen, a deckhand on the Northwestern and brother of its captain, in the reality series “Deadliest Catch.”

DUTCH HARBOR, a fishing port in this town on a pair of islands in the middle of the Aleutians, may be the bleakest, wildest frontier left in America. There used to be a bowling alley, but it closed. So, just recently, did the worst and most dangerous of the town’s three bars. Now most of the port’s social life, and a fair amount of its business activity, takes place in the two others. One of them, the Unisea, has a sign outside that says, “If you fight on these premises, you will be 86’d for an indefinite period of time.” Inside there is a sign proclaiming “Where Fish and Drink Become One,” whatever that means.

These are not bars for amateurs or casual drinkers. Getting hammered is the whole point. When the fishermen are in town, they toss around $50s like confetti in their eagerness to be served, and at the tail end of an evening one or two might drop to their backs on the floor and do a dying-cockroach imitation, waving their feelers in the air. Others stand in the middle of the room, glassy eyed, swaying slightly, itching for someone to bump into them.

Some of these guys are also TV stars of a sort and appear on “Deadliest Catch,” a reality series that begins its fourth season on the Discovery Channel on April 15. The show is watched by some three million viewers a week, making it one of the top-rated programs on basic cable, and it’s about work, of all things — the boring, repetitive and sometimes brutal job of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. A typical episode includes monstrous waves that slosh right up on the inside of your television screen, along with scenes of slicker-clad deckhands nearly faint with exhaustion and of anxious, bleary-eyed captains cursing and chain-smoking up in the wheelhouse.

F/V Wizard (Photo courtesy of Discovery and Don Bland)

Alaskan crab is caught in baited pots that are actually the size of small apartments and weigh about 800 pounds. These are launched over the side of the boat, allowed to soak for a while and then hauled up by a crane. Until they’re wrestled down, they’re lethal, free-swinging weights. When the crab (that’s a plural as well as a singular in fishermanese) are running, the crew members work day and night, sometimes 40 hours at a stretch. They haul pots in 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds, with seas cresting over the bow or the side. In the opilio, or snow crab, season, which usually begins in January, they routinely begin the day by chopping ice off the boat for a couple of hours. Fingers are smashed, ribs get broken, men sometimes go overboard.

Of all the reality shows, “Deadliest Catch” is by far the realest; people have actually died on it. In the first season one of the featured boats, the Big Valley — top-heavy with stacked pots — wallowed and then sank, drowning all but one of its crew.

A small number of boats are featured on “Deadliest Catch” every season and turn up weekly, like characters in an episodic novel. Each of them is rigged with two fixed cameras covering the deck and a smaller “captain’s cam” in the wheelhouse, focused on the skipper. Two Discovery Channel cameramen are embedded with each crew, stalking them day and night with hand-held cameras.

All this exposure has made unlikely heroes of some of the fishermen, especially a few of the captains: Sig Hansen of the Northwestern, who has the brooding, blond appeal of an aging Norwegian rock singer; Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit, who cultivates a sort of biker look: mullet, backward baseball cap, leather USA jacket and ostrich-skin cowboy boots; and the Cornelia Marie’s skipper, Phil Harris, gravelly voiced, tattooed and irascible.

They’re recognized on the street in Las Vegas, where a lot of fishermen like to vacation; they get sacks of fan mail, including marriage proposals, and make a nice bit of change on the side selling souvenirs, including thong underwear, on their boats’ Web sites. Last fall Brandee Lecki and Roseann Sullivan, two devoted fans of “Deadliest Catch,” traveled all the way from Swartz Creek, Mich., to Dutch Harbor, just to watch the fleet sail out for the beginning of the king crab season.

Dutch Harbor is hardly a tourist destination. The airport’s runway is so short that when a plane arrives or departs, the end is sometimes blocked with a pickup, to keep the plane from crashing into traffic headed for the docks. There are three or four trees in Unalaska, which is mostly cliff, and a number of blockhouses and Quonset huts left over from World War II, when Dutch Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. The landscape is beautiful, like the high Scottish moorland, and postindustrial, with truck chassis, fuel drums, spools of wire and other assorted junk rusting on the shore because it costs too much to ferry such stuff away. Sea lions troll the harbor. Perched on lampposts and trash bins, bald eagles are as common as pigeons.

Some crab fishermen refer to their time offshore as “sea-hab,” and as Captain Hillstrand writes in “Time Bandit,” a book he and his brother (and fellow “Deadliest Catch” captain) Andy have just published with Malcolm MacPherson, “The crew who work best on deck are animals who should be dropped off at the sea buoys on the way to port.” But Dutch Harbor is actually tamer than it used to be, back when crab fishing was an unregulated free-for-all and an unlimited number of boats competed against one another.


Please read the rest of the article after the jump

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New “Deadliest Catch” by the Numbers (2007-2008 crab seasons)

F/V Wizard during Opilio season 2008. (image courtesy of Discovery)

 Is everyone watching the “Deadliest Catch” marathon today?  There’s some new behind the scene statistics for this season.  You may remember a very similiar article from last year.  The numbers are slightly different this time.  For example Original Productions used a few more cameras this season, and Don Bland (regular camera man on the Northwestern)  apparently knows how to put on his survival suit in record time.  Kudos to Don!



The pounds of equipment the production team ships from Los Angeles to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to film DEADLIEST CATCH.


The number of cameras the film crew left Dutch Harbor with this season. Only a third of those make it back to land in working order. The others fall victim to the saltwater and frigid temperatures and accidents on deck.


The hours of footage that are shot over the course of king and opilio crab seasons, filling 5,000 videotapes. This footage is painstakingly edited down to 16 one-hour episodes.


The number of cameramen used to film the fourth season of DEADLIEST CATCH.


The number of cameramen, of those 18, who returned from last year to shoot the new season.


The average number of days a cameraman will spend at sea over the course of one complete season of DEADLIEST CATCH.


The record number of consecutive days a DEADLIEST CATCH cameraman spent at sea (a cameraman on the F/V Northwestern in the 2006 Cod/Opilio Season)


The number of seconds under which each cameraman must be able to put on his survival suit before he is allowed to go out to sea.


The number of seconds veteran cameraman Don Bland got into his suit during training.


The number of minutes someone can survive in the Bering Sea without a survival suit. 







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“…Mondays are dirty, Tuesdays are deadly”

That’s what Mike Rowe says in this really entertaining youtube clip.  Mike wants us to know he’s moving to Mondays so that we can listen to him on Tuesdays, and on Wednesdays he’s thinking about taking pottery classes….sure, Mike….



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“Deadliest Catch” Special for Fans!

(photo courtesy of Discovery)

Discovery has a special offer for “Deadliest Catch” fans given that we’re on the eve of the fantastic 2-hour premiere of “Deadliest Catch” season 4!  Not only are they offering free shipping through April 18th,  they’re also offering a $10 discount on any “Deadliest Catch” season set including the Ultimate Deadliest Catch Fan Collection of all three seasons.  So if you here reading this, the almost secret discount code to use to take advantage of the $10 discount is DC10OFF.  Choices are season 1, season 2, season 3, the Ultimate Fan Collection including the pilot episode and yes, you can also pre-order season 4!  Check out Discovery! 


Are you a great fan of “Deadliest Catch” and a serious Xbox gamer?  If so, let us know!

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Sig & Edgar Hansen on the Tonight Show 04/07/08

Sig and Edgar Hansen appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on monday, April 7th, and just this evening appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly. The Tonight Show appearance is available on youtube so enjoy!

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