Posted by

Mike Dow Mike Dow
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer


Captain Sig' Hansen of The Deadliest Catch'

Rate this item
(22 votes)
Captain Sig' Hansen of The Deadliest Catch' Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel
Fishing first, camera second' 

As captain of the fishing vessel 'The Northwestern,' Sigurd 'Sig' Hansen thought he had seen it all. He's witnessed the lives of friends and crew permanently altered in a split-second. He's broken up vicious on-deck fights. He's weathered Bering Sea storms that came close to sinking his boat, and he has seen rival fishermen seemingly forget the most basic rules of humanity. What he didn't see coming was the fame he has attained for doing a job that has been part of his Norwegian ancestry for generations.

Since 2005, Hansen and his crew have been featured on the Discovery Channel's long-running reality series 'The Deadliest Catch' (Tuesdays 9 p.m.) as part of a fleet of vessels fishing for Red King and Opilio Crab in the Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth.  

I recently spoke with Captain Hansen about his life, family and occupation and how they converge on 'The Deadliest Catch.' The show is now in its ninth season and airs in more than 150 countries. With 40-foot waves, hurricane-force winds and colossal icebergs, not to mention the flared tempers and life-changing decisions, the show's current season has taken a toll on everyone involved.   

Dow: When you were first approached nine years ago to do this show, what was your reaction?

Hansen: I wanted nothing to do with it.

Dow: What made you change your mind?  

Hansen: After talking it over with a couple of guys on the fleet, we thought it might be a decent tribute. It was originally going to air for just one year, and I thought, 'Why not?' We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  

Dow: When you're on 'The Northwestern,' you seem completely at ease under very stressful and deadly conditions. When you look back over the last nine years, what stands out in terms of 'close calls?'

Hansen: We've had times when the boat was in peril she was literally sinking. We've been iced down so badly that she was rolling over. There is so much ice that accumulates on these boats. There have been some situations that are difficult to talk about. We've lost a lot of friends, although the show is never about that.  

Dow: I'm curious about the camera crew on the boat. Have they ever gotten in the way of you and the crew being able to do your jobs?  

Hansen: We don't let them get in the way. They've tried, and I've kicked them off the boat twice. We've had situations where they want so much to be in the scene, it gets in the way of our work. They want to be 'in the moment' and they forget that they need to be the outsider. When it gets to that point, they're jumping over the line. We have a rule 'fishing first, camera second.'

Dow: How invasive are the cameras? 

Hansen: I had a crew member who lost two family members and he needed privacy. He needed a couple of minutes to himself.  The camera crew wanted to be in the same room and we refused them. If they had their way, they would have a camera mounted to our foreheads 24/7.  

Dow: Have they ever tried to get you to stage something for the show that wasn't real?

Hansen: We do helicopter shoots outside the harbor where they do some 'B- roll' (supplemental footage later intercut with the main shot) to show the fleet leaving and whatnot that has to be staged. When you watch the show, it looks really good because they have everything from the air. The only thing that is really staged is the time that we're at sea. That's all condensed and I can understand why. For each season they shoot five months of footage and they pull 18 hours of programming from it.

Let's say we're in the moment and I say something but they don't pick it up clearly in the microphone, they'll ask you to redo something like that and that's when it gets kind of weird.   

Dow: How has 'The Deadliest Catch' changed your life?

Hansen: You can't go anywhere without being recognized, and that can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes. At the same time, it's flattering because the comments are almost always positive. Let's face it, we're a blue-collar family and a pat on the shoulder is always nice. Some of the comments are like 'We never complain anymore about the price of seafood after we learn how it gets from the source to our plate,' so it's kind of rewarding in that way.  

Dow: How much longer do you want to keep doing the show?  

Hansen: To be honest, I've got a feeling that next year season 10 might be the last. If they do it, great. If not, I'm proud of what we've done so far. They originally signed us for three years with options to renew. What's great for me is that (if the show is canceled) I don't lose my day job. I just get to do what we do and have fun doing it. If it continues - great. It's win-win.  

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard each morning on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.3, 104.7and 107.7.


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine