The Bering Sea can be a dangerous place, and for those who make a living fishing for crab, the threat of death looms large, particularly in stormy conditions. One occupational hazard is rogue waves. They hit without warning and so fast deckhands have no time to prepare.
Such was the case aboard the Saga while crab fishing at night. The scary incident was captured during filming of last Tuesday’s episode of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch." A 50-foot rogue wave washed over the bow, covering the deck and sending one crab pot overboard, nearly taking a deckhand with it. Watch the terrifying scene:
Captain Elliott Neese watched in horror from the safety of the bridge.
“Yeah, is everybody on the boat still,” Neese said over the loudspeaker in a panicked voice as he scanned the deck, searching out his deckhands. “Is everybody still there?”
Someone answered, “Is everybody all right? Uh, yeah.”
Deckhand Kevin Vanderpol was preparing one of the pots when the wave hit.
“I felt as if I was going into the pot,” he said. “I just threw my hands underneath the launcher. The pot slid out.”
What would have happened had the wave pushed him into the pot? Engineer Mike Vanderveldt said such an outcome would have meant instant death.
“If you’re in the pot and the pot goes overboard, you’re going to the bottom with it,” he said.
Once everybody was accounted for, Neese let out a sigh with a whistle and one word, “Wow.”
Now you know why they call it “Deadliest Catch.” This was definitely a close call, one that had Vanderveldt thinking about his occupation.
“This is going to make me hate crab fishing,” he said.
Photos of the wave hitting the Saga and deckhand Kevin Vanderpol (circled) still holding on to the launcher are screen grabs from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”: