Deadliest Catch fans, we have good news: When the Cornelia Marie sets out for king crab season at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning (“You never leave on a Friday,” Capt. Josh Harris reminds us), there will be cameras on it.
The fan-favorite boat was missing from Season 13 of Discovery’s Emmy-winning reality series, even though it remained an active part of the Bering Sea crab fleet last year. Harris addressed the decision, made by the network and Original Productions, in a video posted to the Cornelia Marie‘s Facebook page last October. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment today from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, he explained that it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to be in the wheelhouse alongside Capt. Casey McManus. “I had a lot of family issues going on,” he says. “I had [multiple] people in ICU at the same time, and that put a kibosh on things — I had to be home. Going to visit everybody in ICU isn’t exactly a fun time or stuff that necessarily needs to be filmed.”
Josh’s grandfather, Capt. Grant Harris, passed away last December. They’ll spread his ashes during opie season this winter. “He wanted to be buried with my dad [Capt. Phil Harris], who’s buried out here,” Josh says. Josh’s brother, former deckhand Jake Harris, who’s spoken openly about issues with substance abuse in the past, was jumped and severely beaten last November — something Josh informed fans of on Facebook as well.
“He’s doing better from that [assault]. He’s still working on getting things fixed in his personal life,” Josh says. “That’s one thing that’s real sad: I’m currently the last Harris on the sea right now. But hopefully there’ll be another one eventually. I think my brother is ready to pull his head out of his tuchus. If that happens, we’ll be here with open arms.”
For now, Josh is focused on his own reunion with the Cornelia Marie. “I was so happy to see the boat. I kissed it when I saw it,” he says. While McManus admits it was different operating without Josh last year — “Yin is one thing to go fishin’, but yin and yang is a lot funner,” he says — the boat successfully filled its tanks in his absence. Now the captains have “pretty much a whole new crew,” minus Daniel (Deejay) Campbell, who they hired as a greenhorn three years ago. “He went from livin’ in Vegas and probably not making the best decisions in life to now he’s the deck boss,” McManus says. “So he’s made a huge jump with what we’re doing, and he did well last season.”
The boat itself has also been through a major overhaul. “There’s a lot more buttons up here to push,” Josh says from the state-of-the-art wheelhouse. “I’m really excited to start pushing these buttons on the new machinery, the new electronics we’ve got, and hopefully I learn quick.”
McManus will lead the show for king crab, while Josh takes point for opies. “It’s not so much an educational thing anymore for Josh, in my opinion. He’s got his stuff down,” McManus says of their partnership. “Now it’s a get-out-and-go-fishing-as-a-team thing. It’s just kind of nice to have both of us up here. It’s easier on both of us, stress-wise. It’s not that we both have to be here, but it’s just so much more fun with the both of us here.”
Part of the reason they agreed to come back on the show, McManus says, is because they have a huge love and appreciation for the fans who’ve long followed the Cornelia Marie. “Because that Harris name was so strong and everybody loved Phil so much, nobody wants to see this boat just disappear. They want to see the whole legacy keep going,” he says. “And when two young guys get into a boat and are running it together and getting things all dialed in and figured out, and then all the sudden they’re gone, you wonder what happened with the boat.”
“Everyone has questions,” Josh says. “They’re about to get ’em answered. Most of ’em, anyways — there’s certain questions out there that are pretty f***in’ weird, to be quite honest with you. But we’re definitely back, and we’re ready to show the world what we can do at full force, a little bit smarter, and with a lot better boat. Hopefully we finish in that No. 1 spot. And I think we’ve got a pretty good chance. We’re playing the game with a lot of quota now, and we’re gonna catch a lot of crab.”
McManus knows some people have a lot of comments about the new partners that came into the boat. “‘If Josh only has a minority share, what’s the point?’ Well, he doesn’t only have a minority share — he’s the biggest individual shareholder still,” McManus says. “But we got two incredible partners who brought in a lot of quota and a lot of know-how and a lot of sweat equity. These guys are not the type of guys who sit behind the scenes. When this thing hits shipyard, they are all over it in coveralls. … It’s not uncommon to see one of them welding while the next one’s cutting the next piece of steel. We put a whole new head in — bathroom, for the laypeople — and those guys were in there every step of the way, right down until the toilet was bolted in. Now that we’ve got those partners in, they made it a real sustainable, a real viable business. And at the end of the day, if Josh didn’t agree to bring these guys in, we would have been up the proverbial creek made of excrement in a vessel and no means of propulsion.”
Season 14 of Deadliest Catch premieres on Discovery in 2018. In addition to the Cornelia Marie, it will feature the Northwestern, Brenna A, Saga, Summer Bay, and Wizard. Cameras will not be aboard the Time Bandit.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: