Deadliest Catch Season 1

Series: Deadliest Catch, Season 1

Deadliest Catch Season 1
Deadliest Catch Season 1

Shoo, we love this show! It’s a documentary-style reality show about  crab fishermen in Alaska. It’s back-breaking, dangerous work conducted in short bursts on the Bering Sea near the top of the world (the sea Sarah Palin looks across from her front porch in order to spy on Russia). The crab fishing (in this season at least) is done derby-style: the government opens the season on a particular date, and then based on how much is caught, closes it a few days thereafter.

The men work almost 24 hours a day, knowing that their available time to take advantage of the crab bounty is short. The captains engage in the strategising and planning – they have to decide where to lay their crab traps (called pots) and when to collect them again, hopefully bursting with crab. For the deckhands, it’s cold, wet, dangerous (lots of moving parts) and repetitive. They put the crab pots overboard, each weighing several hundred kilograms. When they collect a string of pots, one man throws a grapple hook to land between two buoys floating above the pot, and the crane then winches the even heavier full pot onto the boat. Its contents are transferred to a sorting table where female (in the case of king crabs), small and dirty (barnacle-encrusted) crabs are thrown back into the sea. The live crab are transferred to water-filled holding tanks on the boat, and at the end of the season they are offloaded directly to a processing plant.

I’ve always had a little obsession with fishing boats, and Tony’s not-so-secret desire is to spend a day on one of the little boats that goes out of Kalk Bay harbour to see what goes on… This is almost as good as being on one yourself. The sea is fierce, huge and beautiful, and the two seasons take place in October (king crab) and January (opilio crab) so the winter weather is harsh. There’s freezing spray, howling winds, huge waves and icy water. To fall overboard without a survival suit on amounts to almost certain death.

Despite the dangers, the competition is fierce. Crab are valuable – the larger king crab were selling for nearly $30 each when this season was filmed (2005) and men make fortunes in a few days doing this work.

You can get the DVD box set here if you’re in South Africa, and here if you’re not.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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