2007 – A Sad Week At The Huntington Home

I guess I should open this by immediately saying that there’s been no major tragedy or accident and everybody is alive and in good health. But it has been a sad week, given that they aired the final episode of the season for our favorite program, “The Deadliest Catch”. We consider The Deadliest Catch to be the highlight of the week. It’s really the only thing we look forward to seeing amongst 300 channels on TV.

If you’ve never watched The Deadliest Catch, you’re really missing out on something. This show is absolutely fantastic, rating right at the top with “Bonanza”. Some people don’t remember Bonanza, but if you know anything about the Huntington family, we consider it to have been one of the greatest television programs ever! That is, until we got hooked on The Deadliest Catch, which is so good that we’ve even bought the DVD sets.

The Deadliest Catch is a Discovery Channel effort, covering crab fishing on the treacherous Bering Sea. To some folks, that probably doesn’t sound very exciting, but it really is, and I think a big part of the addiction in watching the show is that these guys are doing something that most people, men anyway, secretly fantasize they could do themselves.

After watching, it goes without much saying that these guys are doing extremely exhausting, dangerous and challenging work. And most of them seem to love it, and they do it very well!

Now, my mind will often wander away when I’m watching the show to where I’m 20 years younger and working on one of those boats. This is the fantasy part I mentioned earlier. You see, I’m a bit middle aged now, but in my younger days I would have been a great crab fisherman. I’ve watched the show enough and I know it for a fact. Obviously, I would have had some minor obstacles to overcome, such as my tremendous fear of large bodies of water. Or, make that, any body of water.

It’s just the water. The rough seas wouldn’t bother me. I was in the middle of nowhere once, and within a mile of two or a tornado touching down and it scared the living hell out of me. But, it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t function. It was absolutely terrifying, but I didn’t fall apart.

On the other hand, I can be out on a sunny day amongst the singing birds and pleasant skies, totally content unless I happened to stray within 5 feet of a fishing pond. One ripple, and I’m totally petrified. I don’t like it. Anything larger than a mudhole in the driveway just scares me to death. I don’t like boating, water skis or the beach. I can fish as long as I can stay at least 10 feet away from the shore; and the water is extremely calm; and I’m wearing a life vest; carrying a flare gun, and there’s no snakes around.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been a great crab fisherman. Get rid of all that water, and I could be a natural at it.

I joke, of course. They say they get a lot of “Greenhorns” who just drop the ball because most men can’t do it, and I would obviously be one who would probably become a burden. I’d have the smoking and coffee-drinking down to a science, but with the first wave they would have to shoot me for the safety of the rest of the crew and the boat.

And I think that’s what the draw is for The Deadliest Catch… I can watch it, and still imagine myself doing it, and really wishing I could try it at least once. I’ve checked a few of the websites for the crews involved, and none of them are hiring at the moment or I would probably take a gamble on it. Because anyone who’s ever met Mrs. Huntington can understand a mans fantasy about urgently escaping to a crab boat on the Bering Sea.

After each show, I wind up checking the website for The Deadliest Catch, as well as passing some time with some research on crab fishing and the Bering Sea. I’ve also picked up some great photographs from our favorite dealer. Here’s just a few tidbits I’ve picked up:

Amazing, but did you know that Americans used to buy most of their crab from the Japanese who operated floating canneries in the Bering just off US territorial waters? The first US based, commercial, canning operations weren’t started until the 1940’s as a result of World War II. Prior to that, over 95% of our crab meat was purchased from the Japanese.

Here’s a mid 1940’s catch by American fisherman, on an unknown boat:

King Crab On The Bering Sea

One of our favorite recent episodes involved Captain Johnathan Hillstrand of The Time Bandit, maneuvering through heavy ice near St. Paul harbor. From my readings, the ice up there is supposed to be devastating. I managed to get this early photograph of the S.S. Portland, stuck in the Bering Sea ice around 1901.

S.S. Portland On The Bering Sea

The S.S. Portland, not to be confused with the earlier paddlewheel steamer of the same name, was a 191 foot wooden hull ship which sank in 1910. It had helped launch the Klondike Gold Rush. It was also a notorious smuggling ship for narcotics and weapons, having actually been seized by the US Government at one time. Here’s another early photo of the S.S. Portland stuck in the ice off Alaska.

S.S. Portland Near Alaska

Lastly, I picked up this great photo of some old gent showing a crab to a little girl. The other Victorian looking boy is playing with another crab on the pier and the dog is staring off, contently, into space. I imagine he’s dreaming about working on the Northwestern with Sig and Edgar Hansen, as we all are these days.

Funny Old Crabber

Photo by Fritz W. Guerin – 1901

You’ll probably have to tolerate me discussing The Deadliest Catch again in the future. It’s a great way to get away and dream for an evening.

Phineous Zivick Huntington
June 23, 2007

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One Response to “2007 – A Sad Week At The Huntington Home”

  1. tabc Says:


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