Phil Harris, Crusty Captain On ‘deadliest Catch,’ Dies At 53

I was so sad to read this as I remember he had gone to hospital I think last season because of a blood clot that moved when he was tossed off his bunk into a dresser. He has two really great sons and I loved his gentle nature and his humor. He will be sourly missed...

 


 

Phil Harris, the bearded, cantankerous captain of the Cornelia Marie, one of the small fleet of crab-fishing boats that have plied the perilous waters off the coast of Alaska for five seasons on the hit reality television show “Deadliest Catch,” died on Tuesday in Anchorage. He was 53.

 

The cause was a stroke that Captain Harris suffered on Jan. 29 aboard his boat in the port on St. Paul Island, Alaska, his friend and business partner, Russ Herriott, said.

“Deadliest Catch,” on the Discovery Channel, is watched by about three million viewers a week, making it one of the top-rated programs on basic cable. The show’s subject is the boring, repetitive and sometimes brutal job of fishing in the Bering Sea. A typical episode includes huge waves sloshing against the insides of the television screen, as well as scenes of slicker-clad, exhausted deckhands and bleary-eyed captains cursing and chain-smoking up in the wheelhouse.

Captain Harris fit the profile: husky, six feet tall, with hair down to his collar and tattoos from his shoulders to his elbows — a grizzled pirate on one arm, a Harley-Davidson emblem on the other.

The Cornelia Marie is one of four boats in the permanent fleet (not counting others making guest voyages on the weekly show), the others being the Northwestern, with Sig Hansen as captain; the Time Bandit, co-captained by Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand; and the Wizard, with Keith Colburn at the helm.

When the crab are running, the crew members work day and night, sometimes 40 hours at a stretch. They haul 800-pound pots in 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds, with seas cresting over the deck.

The show has lived up to its name. In its first season one of the featured boats, the Big Valley, sank, drowning all but one of its crew. Captain Harris, who by then had owned and operated the Cornelia Marie for 16 years, joined the search. His rescue efforts brought him to the attention of the show’s producers. When the sixth season starts in April, he and his crew — which includes his two sons, Jake and Josh — will once again be seen, in episodes filmed in recent months.

Mr. Herriott could not provide the names of other survivors.

Philip Harris was born on Dec. 21, 1956. His father was a fisherman, and Phil first worked on fishing boats when he was 7.

Aboard the 128-foot-long, 298-ton Cornelia Marie, Captain Harris was earthy and excitable. The producers of “Deadliest Catch” hoped that with Josh and Jake in the crew sibling rivalry would spice the action. What they often got were scenes of the old man chewing out his offspring.

 

Crina Crina
26-30
Feb 11, 2010