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

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Sfscrapper: What size was the rope you cut off the wheel and what size is your wheel? You guys are great!

Andy Hillstrand: Our wheels are 15" in diameter and the rope was 3/4 inch round. It was wrapped about 3 foot thick around the shaft. I went through 2 knives cutting the rope off — brand new, sharp knives.

Doug357: Hi Andy, are you dive certified?

Andy Hillstrand: Yes, I am NAUI certified.

Lhiiiz: So, how many cowboy hats have you lost to the Bering Sea?

Andy Hillstrand: (laughing) That was actually the first time I wore my cowboy hat on deck. I got tired of looking like every other monkey out there in the orange suit. I ended up giving my hat away to a fan. It made it all the way through the season, covered with bait and everything.

SultanaTX: Hey Captain Andy do you miss the old school derby—style fishing, or do you prefer the new way?

Andy Hillstrand: I totally miss the old style. That's what we grew up on, and how we learned to fish. It really made you a good captain. Now it seems like you're guaranteed to catch crab, so it's kind of taken the fun out of it. But bad things can still happen out there.

Mike TX: Andy, I enjoy watching you and your crew fish. My question is how much has the price of diesel affected your operation? It's killing us farmers here in Texas. I can't imagine how much diesel costs up in Alaska.

Andy Hillstrand: Yeah, diesel prices were $2.65 a gallon when I left Alaska, and I think they've gone up, so it's really affected our bottom line. Seems the price of crab just stays pretty much where it's been for the last 20 years. The price for cattle has gone up more than the price of crab has. And that's why we're so grateful for people to realize how hard we work to catch the crab.

Time Bandit: With the show being so popular Andy, do other boats now keep track of your position and where you put your pots to try and take from your secret places?

Andy Hillstrand: Oh yeah! We had to call the Farwest Leader and tell him where some king crab were last season. He couldn't find the crab, so we told him. Sig on the Northwestern saw us up there for a day and half, and he just knew we were on the crab. So the guys definitely look for Sig and Phil and myself to know where we're at.

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