Opening Line: "I am a fisherman, an Alaskan fisherman, and a Bering Sea crab fisherman with thirty-seven years on commercial boats."
As a long time fan of TV’s The Deadliest Catch and an avid biography reader it was a given that I’d read Time Bandit, I just didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did or be given such candour into Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand’s lives. Now thanks to the boys I also know just about everything I’d ever want to about; Alaskan weather, rogue waves, hypothermia, what happens when you party naked, ice flows, never quitting, how many groceries you need to feed 7 hungry men for two weeks, the coast guard (coasties), eagles, seagulls, the Bering sea, red gold, flares, silly string wars, crab pots, survival suits, cod, salmon, the fishing industry in general and how to get out of jail in Mexico.
If you’re a fan of The Deadliest Catch then you’ll love this even though you will have already seen some of the stories played out on TV. However all the behind the scenes details and the intimate look into Andy and Johnathon’s lives really make this worthwhile. Exhilarating, anguished and often hilarious these modern day pirates give a first hand account on what its like to face death on the Bering Sea with stories that are in turn riotous and often sadly reflective. They talk here just like they do on TV too so expect the F-bombs, a general feeling of unruliness and a hell of a lot of fun.
Ghost written by Malcolm Macpherson, he cleverly takes an assortment of the Hillstrand brother’s tales, adds some facts and then layers them all within a gripping adventure. Starting with Johnathan drifting alone in his 38 foot fishing vessel 'Fishing Fever'. He has lost power, doesn’t have a radio and is quickly running out of cigarettes however by the end theres still 1 flare left and he hasn’t cracked the Crown Royal.
Jonathans narrative takes us through the Hillstrand brothers rough and tumble childhood, the tempestuous relationship they had with their father and onto the Time Bandit into 2008. He provides a great deal of humour throughout, none of which I can repeat here but sure made me laugh and is without a doubt the “bad boy of the Bering Sea” A couple of chapters in we switch to Andy’s POV on his horse farm in Indiana. He has just received the call that his brother’s gone missing while salmon fishing. Andy’s narrative is less personal and places a lot of emphasis on family, marriage and having a life away from fishing. And although the more reserved of the pair make no mistake Andy has a wild streak too.
Macpherson takes us back and forth between the two brothers with Andy waiting and worrying at the ranch and Jonathan drifting into Shelikof Strait, eating raw salmon and rationing cigarettes. The ending of this true life adventure is well…just another day in the life of a Hillstrand.
There’s also 16 pages of photographs.