Andy Hillstrand’s Online Chat Transcript, June 5, 2007

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Jen: Were you with John on Black Sunday?

Andy Hillstrand: Me and Johnathan were together when there were 100 foot seas. I think we were on different boats for Black Monday, but we were together for Black Thursday. That's one of the times I thought I was going to die — got hit from behind by a 100 foot wave.

Sissytulips: Good evening Captain Andy. It appears that all the vessels are running computer software programs. What are these programs used for, and how detrimental is it to the vessel if the system crashes? Who fixes it when it does crash?

Andy Hillstrand: We're running a navigation program called Nobletec. Some guys use the "Globe" system to mark our pots where we put them in the water. If the system crashes, it's devastating. But we always write down our numbers, the latitude and longitude, because our computers have crashed more than once. We become the self—certified computer technicians when that happens, and try to fix them ourselves as good as we can.

HiVolt65: Hi Capt. Hillstrand, quite the difference between Indiana and Alaska. What are the positives and negatives of each place as far as you are concerned?

Andy Hillstrand: The positives of Alaska is it's not as humid as Indiana. Negative — I could only ride horses 3 months a year in Alaska. Quick synopsis. But they're both so different that I appreciate them both.

Ggabalot: Greg from the Farwest Leader had his wife on his last trip fishing. Has your wife ever accompanied you on one of the crab fishing trips?

Andy Hillstrand: No, my wife has accompanied me on salmon trips, but never on the crab boat. This is one of our superstitions that we don't take women on the boat for crab fishing. Nothing personal on the women ;-) Guys usually just start fighting over the girls. You're at sea for 3 months, and the captain's got his wife there and is getting some lovin', and the rest of the crew gets jealous. That's probably where the superstition came from.

Decspumpkin: I love fishing and was wondering how hard is it to pick the spots to put the pots?

Andy Hillstrand: The Bering Sea is such a vast area that you kind of go with your traditional spots that you normally fish. But there are so many variables with ice pack and weather and stuff that you have to really just go with your instincts.

I love Blake: I am very curious to know how you can go under the boat to cut the rope off your propeller and stay in the water for over an hour and not even be shivering when you came up, but yet a man in a survival suit may or may not last an hour in the same 36 degree water.

Andy Hillstrand: A dry suit is made to keep water out. It has insulated underwear, and a survival suit does not have insulated underwear and it does not keep water out all the way. Water does come in, and all it does is warm it to body temperature. Ragnhild, the lady on the Farwest Leader, was putting on her suit and you could see it was above her nose and water was just pouring off.

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