COLUMN:Cowboy on the water likeness lures sailors


August 04, 2007|By MIKE WHITEHEAD


Do you know the name of the boating TV show where the crew gets pounded in the Bering Sea while we relax on our couches eating crab legs dipped in butter?

The answer is "Deadliest Catch," and it has captured the nation on the Discovery Channel. I find it fascinating that this show has become so popular, as we tune in to see the adventures of life aboard a commercial crab boat. I think the cowboy on the water likeness, and the crews working in rough and dangerous conditions, are the lures.


I have been at the helm of yachts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with green water going over the top of the boat. The "Deadliest Catch" crews regularly operate in the roughest of waters, while the guys are working with heavy crab pots.

You know the conditions are bad when you are in 20- to 30-foot seas with ice forming on your rails. And you thought that going to Catalina Island is rough-ocean crossing.

The crab fishing boats operate in the Bering Sea, which most people think is in the Gulf of Alaska. Actually, the Bering Sea is to the west of the Gulf, separated by the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands extending off the peninsula, and Siberia is the coastline to the west.

A couple of hundred boats head out each season hoping to return full of crab, which many well be served at our local restaurants. What compounds the danger is that this short fishing season opens in January and the cold has already set in over the seas.

I will be interviewing Captains Phil Harris of the "Cornelia Marie" and Larry Hendricks with the "Sea Star" on my radio show tomorrow. Hear the captains talk about life on a crab boat and the extreme conditions that makes this one of the most dangerous jobs. The captains are visiting as guests at SCMA's 4th annual San Diego Yacht and Boat Show, held at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island through Sunday.

So, tune in every Saturday at noon to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Capt. Mike Whitehead's Boathouse Radio Show," on AM 830.

Safe Voyages.

  • MIKE WHITEHEAD is the Pilot's boating columnist. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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