My Debut on the Deadliest Catch

posted: 06/23/15
Amy Diary 1

The first day was surreal. The flight into Dutch Harbor from Anchorage was just like my Dad said it would be. Bumpy and terrifying. I stepped off the plane entirely overdressed for the 48 degrees that Dutch had to offer. Hell, it was even warmer than Sitka-where I flew from. I jumped off the plane, wiped the sweat off my forehead, and was instantly greeted by my new Captain, Keith Colburn, and the cameraman, Matt. In all the places I've traveled throughout the world, I've never felt like such a fish out of water-my favorite expression being a year-round commercial fisherman-and never even knew that I was capable of feeling those emotions. I had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into.

While documenting my every move, we drove around Dutch. Our first stop was Alaska Ship and Supply, followed by LFS. I was versed on how to properly speak into the camera, while being asked a million questions in the process. Nothing was off limits either. "What kind of rain gear do you like?" "Whats the most difficult thing about being a girl on a boat?" "Do you have a boyfriend?" I confidently answered all three questions. "Grundens, everything is twice as hard for a woman, and sexual harassment is very much alive and well out on the water. As for the guy situation. I haven't found a man strong enough to stand beside me yet. Hell, I don't even think one exists." The reaction was priceless as we walked around the stores. I could only imagine what people were thinking while they intensely stared at the cameras, following around some frail blonde girl buying rain gear. Probably something along the lines of "What in the f*** is she doing here?!" I froze up inside, knowing that my life would be forever changed, but assured myself that if any woman in history could do this, it would be me. I had one shot, and I was not going to half-ass it either. I was smiling on the outside, but inside, my heart was beating out of my chest. So, I took a deep breath and looked into the camera. It was now or never!

The cameras kept rolling after we were done purchasing all my rain gear. They had begun, and would continue to do so for the next two months. I quickly learned how to get peace and quiet though, via a phone call to a crabber buddy who used to be on the show. "You literally have to slam doors in their faces sometimes, Amy. They will follow you around, more than any of the other guys on the boat, and receptively ask you the same questions to get under your skin. They will expect you to fail. The biggest story for them will be if you stick it out."

We were on our way back to the boat, and with every mile we drove, the reality of the situation that I'd thrust myself into without doing any prior research, became more and more apparent."Would the guys on the Wizard like me? What would they initially think about the situation? I knew I had to prove them wrong, because being taken seriously onboard commercial fishing vessels in Alaska has never been something that is as easily acquired being a woman, especially since I look absolutely nothing like a fisherman. For these reasons, I commonly tell people that I am a nurse or a banker when they ask what I do for a living. Its just easier to explain things that way.

While we drove down the s******** dirt road that I'd ever been on in my entire life, I had no shortage of time to overthink all of these scenarios in my head. One look at my surroundings, before I spouted off. "There's a woman behind every tree in Dutch Harbor," which happens to be the same for Bristol Bay as well. "This place is desolate, boring, and its raining worse than southeast Alaska. Thats bad. Basically, this is the ugliest f****** place I've ever been to in my entire life and there is no amount of money you could pay me to live here year around." Then I remembered that I had a mic on, and also that the cameras were still rolling. Oops. I kept forgetting everything I said and did would be shown to the world. "How many bars are here?" I asked the camera man. "Only four," he said. I promptly reacted to his statement."It would take eight bars, a strip club, and a Costco for me to even think about staying here!"

As we pulled up to the Wizard, I stepped out of the truck, and followed Keith. "Oh by the way, the crew has absolutely no idea you're here," he says as I grew more nervous by the minute for the grand introductions."Hey," he yells down to the guys as they were busy stacking pots, "I want you to meet someone. Remember how I told you that I hired a new greenhorn? Well, here she is." The looks on their faces were priceless, and something I will never forget. They thought it was a gigantic prank at first, until they realized that, in fact, it was not. They seriously had no idea whatsoever their newest deckhand would be some chick that had never even stepped foot on a crab boat before.

The entire fleet had to have known about the newest addition to the FV Wizard at this point, I thought to myself while staring up at the gigantic stack of crab pots, wondering how I was going to crawl to the top. Tyler was the first one to introduce himself to me, and he gave me a tour, after helping me with my bags. I met Roger, followed by Soper, and Rob. Lenny was last but definitely not least. "Are you f****** kidding me?" Were the first words to come out of his mouth. I shook his hand, and he shook his head in disbelief. "We're going to have to pick up her f****** slack now. I can't believe we have a f****** woman deckhand. The Bering Sea is no place for her." I guess I did have that one coming. It was time to get geared up, and out on deck. It was time to prove myself. It was time to prove that while the Bering Sea in the dead of winter isn't the place for women, let alone most men, that maybe, just possibly I could find my niche there. I could make this work. I would be the second woman in history to Opie fish during the s******** time of year, in the s******** place on earth.
I had been onboard for all of 20 minutes, when Monte Colburn had me on top of the stack chaining pots down. By the way, the chain weighed way more than I do. Looking down, I couldn't help but notice the distance from where I was standing off the side of the boat, to the freezing water below. "F*** my life," I muttered under my breath. Having absolutely no idea how I even made it all the way up to the top of the stack, I grabbed the chain from Monte, and attempted to wrap it around the rail. Thats when panic set in. With one foot on the rail, the other on a pot, it took all the strength I could muster to just hold on. What did I sign up for? "Monte, I don't know how to place my feet, I don't know what the hell I'm doing, and I'm really scared! I don't mean to sound like a pussy here, but I'm freaking out, and I'm having a panic attack!" "You should try this when the pots are completely covered with ice in 40 footers," was his response, as he took the chain back.

Check back in next Tuesday to read more about my adventures on the Bering Sea.
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