Rest in Peace Captain Phil Harris Skipper of the Cornelia Marie
My heart is completely broken today, February 10, 2010, as I just found out that Captain Phil Harris of the Discovery Channel television program, “The Deadliest Catch.” This program followed several captains and crews of their fishing vessels that sail the frigid Alaskan waters trying to catch Alaskan king crabs. Phil was the captain of the F/V Cornelia Marie and part of his crew were his two sons, Josh and Jake. Through the years those two boys have given Phil a lot of grief with their spending habits; using Phil’s credit card and testing their wings as they worked their way up the ranks of the crew. Nobody starts at the top on a fishing boat; you start as a greenhorn and if you are good, will work your way up to throwing the hook, working the winch, the hydraulics or even driving the boat while the captain gets forty winks.
As a fan of “Deadliest Catch” for all the years it has been on television, I was witness to other vessels sinking and crew members losing their lives, proving that this truly is the deadliest job on earth. Just seeing the ravages of the Bering Sea is enough to make you seasick while watching this show. Each week during the season we wait to see if they make their quota and how much money they will make per crew member. They get tossed around the deck while the boat rocks side to side; while waves crash over their heads with such force that they are thrown against the equipment on deck.
As for Phil Harris, he has not had an easy time of it recently. His health has been a problem since he had a blood clot that went through his heart two seasons ago. He tried as he could to fight it, but finally had to go to the hospital. That’s when Murray took over the captain’s chair. Now that Phil is gone; his sons have to carry on. He was closer to Josh than Jake, but the brothers pulled their weight on the boat when they weren’t goofing around.
When Phil got sick, it was a sad time for his boys and when Murray got a call from Phil, he always summoned them to the boat house to talk to their dad. Just when we thought his troubles were behind him, he recently suffered a stroke and passed away yesterday from complications from the ills that have haunted him, plus the fact that he was a chain smoker did not help his cause. During his first episode with the blood clot, he would sneak out of the hospital to smoke.
I truly pray that the Cornelia Marie continues to be a part of the “Deadliest Catch” and I know Phil will live on in our hearts as a great guy who we all fell in love with and at fifty-three years of age, left this world way too soon.