Thursday, April 16, 2009

Deadliest Catch: A Hero's Journey (Originally Posted May 2008)



I so love the Discovery Channel's series,"Deadliest Catch." Somehow, these edgy, chain-smoking, ballsy, cursin' crab fishing captains and deckhands have won a place in my heart. It all started when a boyfriend turned me onto the show over a year and a half ago. We'd sit there together in his living room and I'd watch in awe as the Bering Sea all but swallows these fishing boats and men day in and day out. My boyfriend would call out "Sig!" when his favorite captain came on screen and explain during commercials the different type of crab they fished: king crab and Opilio. I was instantly hooked. Still am.

O Captain, My Captain! Today, I know "my" captains, their names and their ships, their family heritage of crab fishing and their strengths and vices as captains. Sig Hansen, Phil Harris (picture left), and Johnathan Hillstrand are my favorites and apparently many others, as these three captains are the only three that have been consistently featured in every season. Their boats respectively being the Northwestern, the Cornelia Marie, and the Time Bandit. I watch these captains with absolute respect as they command the Sea, charismatically surly but with a soft spot revealed in their boyish humor and celebratory behavior upon striking "gold." This lifestyle seems to be a calling that they could not avoid and so, they commit to the challenges and dangers because it is a passion coursing through their veins and family heritage.

As rough around the edges as they seem, these captains know their stuff and get it done. You don't just head out into the Bering Sea and cruise around. This is no three hour tour! Not only must they know how to navigate, use complex technological equipment, deal with weather, manage a crew, assess and repair boat maintenance/damages, manage the deck operations, etc. But it seems that these captains possess a sacred and awe-worthy intuition about where to crab and oh, are they superstitious! Bad juju is taken very seriously!

What goes on down on the deck effectively illustrates why this is the deadliest job in the world. Highly orchestrated and highly dangerous, swells bouncing the boat up and down like a rubber duck... deckhands throw, pull, lift, empty, fill, shift, and maneuver steel cages (pots), ropes, hooks, bridles, pulleys, and a myriad of other equipment. A foot caught in a rope going overboard with a pot is an ever-present danger and one can only imagine the tremendous difficulty of keeping your footing on a boat out on the Bering Sea. Watching greenhorns struggle, some eagerly rising to the challenge and others collapsing completely, puts additional perspective on how taxing this job is. Nope, this is no job for sissies and I find that I love the show even more for that fact.

I've been continually intrigued by my love of the show. What attracts me to these hard-edged fisherman and the immense Bering Sea? I think, in large, masculinity, adventure, courage, the human spirit, the Hero's Journey of Separation, Initiation and Return. Initially, upon starting this post, I thought about paradox and still do where my love of this show is concerned, but that is a long post in and of itself and so, I'll dive into that at another time. However, the Hero's Journey seems a more compelling pull for me where this show is concerned. A pull I was not fully aware of until I sat down and got into this post.

These men heed to the call to adventure and are put to the test repeatedly in more than just physical ways. They simultaneously and repeatedly respect and confront one of the most intimidating forms of nature. And upon returning, many embark yet again the next season on this Hero's Journey. This has me thinking about my own journey and so, I realize that I derive much motivation and inspiration from the glimpses of these men on their journey. I esteem their courage and harness their masculinity, so that I can call upon my own courage and masculinity. It is a constant reminder that one can't experience the Hero's Journey in their own backyard, now can they, LBR?

Crab has never tasted better to me since falling in love with this show and I have very fond memories of crab and that very boyfriend that turned me onto the show. From that delightfully lazy, white and snowy winter day, eating a plate of crab while standing in his kitchen watching college basketball in his ridiculously-but-comfortably-too big hoop shorts... to our excursion at Newport... crabbing ourselves off the dock and although not catching anything, enjoying the experience and then really enjoying samplers at Rogue Brewery.

And so, aspirations of the Hero's Journey simultaneously harmonize with an immense contentedness with what is in our "backyard" that we often overlook. And who thought a bad ass documentary-like show on crab fishing could evoke such?! Me, of course!


Updated May 4th: Thanks to Morgan at the Cornelia Marie website for his mention of this post on his Captain's Blog. And thanks to all the fans of the Cornelia Marie and "Deadliest Catch" for checking this post out.

*If this idea of the Hero's Journey intrigues you in the least, Lynne Milum's "The Hero's Journey: A Campbellian Look at the Metaphorical Path to Personal Transformation" is a great read and not long at all. This is the article linked above.

**Photos from here, except for the last photo, which is from here.

4 comments:

Randal Graves said...

This is how you make your triumphant return to the internets, via a rerun? Slacker.

So, are you back, or is this merely your annual appearance, like the swallows of Capistrano? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back. Now we need to have updates on Paris.

ancillairwan said...

hi b!

never heard about this program. but sounds interesting...

anyway, i want to let you know that i moved my blog to http://ancillairwan.wordpress.com

please come :)

Cavalock said...

hey there! u r back! hope everything's alright.