Writing two posts in a row about the departed is a little unnerving. I haven’t ever done that, I don’t think, but there is first time for everything. This time is both easier and harder, though, for a couple of different reasons.
Phil Harris, the captain of the F/V Cornelia Marie died this past Tuesday of complications following a stroke. He was 53 years old.
I know for most of you who read this blog this isn’t new news. However, I haven’t had a lot of time to write over the past week which is why I’m only getting to this now. But I did want to talk about it, at least from the standpoint of someone who follows his crew and the others that fish the waters of the Bering Sea.
I loved to watch him – he was crusty. He knew how to deal with situations that would turn most people upside down, and he did this with style that I thought was matched only by the other captains. He also wasn’t above playing practical jokes on other boats, and he had a sense of humor when it was done to him. And he would help anyone. This was shown to be true during the search for the F/V Big Valley during the 2005 season of Deadliest Catch. I believe both his boat and the Northwestern spent the most time on the search. That was rough, and it affected both him and his crew in a hard way.
On a couple of different levels I could relate to what he did and how he dealt with his kids. While I am not a crab fisherman (you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near those waters for any money) we have fatherhood in common. We both have sons. And that’s about it.
But it doesn’t matter. He was a hard-working individual that spent virtually his entire life at sea. And even though this was the life he led, it was clear that he truly loved and cared about his sons.
I would imagine he will be missed by his friends in the fleet. He will certainly be missed by viewers. Including this one.
December 21, 1956 – February 9, 2010
Fair Winds and Following Seas