Last week someone posted something on facebook about wishing Captain Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie a speedy recovery. It was then I found out that he had suffered a pretty massive stroke a week back, luckily while offloading his catch in dock. If it had been at sea, I'm pretty sure he would have been a goner right away. Just a couple years back he had an embolism, a blood clot passed through his heart, while in the middle of crab fishing and it was pretty frightening just how little could be done away from medical care. At best these ships might have a first aid kit somewhere but if something catastrophic happens, you're pretty screwed. Not to mention that it could take up to a day to even get you back to port and from what I hear the medical facilities there aren't the greatest either. If you really had a problem they'd have to air lift you to a larger city, which would take even hours more time. I'll bet that many strokes, heart attacks, and other critical care situations end up being fatal just for that very reason.
Luckily for Phil at the time, they managed to get him to a real hospital and the latest news had been that the surgery to save his life had gone well. The reports from the family was optimistic and they said he had even woken up afterward and was his old grumpy self. He even told the doctors there 'Don't fuck this up' or words to that effect. The last update a few days ago said they were putting him into a medically induced coma but things were still looking up.
Anyway, seeing the news story reminded me that I had never finished watching season 5. I had caught a few episodes last year while at Origins. I'm not as young as I used to be and the whole convention thing has started to grow a little old. I no longer do the dawn to 2am shift when I can help it and during Origins, there were plenty of times I called it an early night. I would head back to the hotel in the early evening and then just loaf around watching tv and one of the nights I stumbled across a Deadliest Catch marathon. I ended up watching the show until the wee hours of the morning, knowing that nothing is better than being snuggly warm while watching other people deal with freezing spray.
Out of all the captains on the show, Captain Phil had been my favorite. The last few seasons, his boat has really been a family affair as first one of his sons and then the other joined the crew. This meant that in addition to the normal conflict aboard a crab boat involving rogue waves, freezing weather, the lack of crabs, mechanical issues, etc, there was also a family drama playing out as the sons jockeyed for dominance and their exasperated and grumpy father tried to verbally smack some sense into them. The best thing about Phil was that no matter how grumpy he was on the outside, he was a real softy deep down where it mattered, not to mention having a real understated sense of humor (Crab Farts, anyone?)
I'm sad to say that yesterday I was looking through the day's news and found an article reporting his death. I was surprised and also a little pissed because the last report had been all positive and stated outright that things were looking up. I hate it when there's that sort of mood whiplash. You can't help but feel that God or fate or someone is jerking your chain just to watch you squirm. Based on the timing, this will mean that Phil died right in the middle of the filming for next season. It's going to be weird to have season 6 start up in a few more weeks and see half a season of him and his family chasing crab only to know the tragedy that's to come. I wonder how Discovery Channel will deal with it and if they'll just edit out the entire boat to avoid the macabre.
Farewell to Captain Phil Harris. If there's a heaven, I hope the pots are full of keepers.