Phil Harris, known to fans of Discovery’s Deadliest Catch as captain of the crab fishing vessel Cornelia Marie, has passed away. He suffered a stroke late last month while in port off-loading at St. Paul Island in Alaska, where his sons, Jake and Josh, remained by their father’s side. Phil was great because he was exactly what we thought a captain would be: Frequently swearing, chain-smoking, and stressing; a teller of tales with a fondness for pranks; a gruff man who’d choose to stay with his ship even when his doctors said it was dangerous; and a softie who’d turn almost poetic when he reflected on the only job he’d ever known.
In a statement, the boys remembered their father’s strong will. “Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate his strength.” Discovery also paid tribute: “We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart. We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil’s every move.”
How will you choose to remember Captain Phil? Discovery has put together a collection of “Captain Phil Moments.” For me, it’s too much to think of the dramatic moments now. (My mind keeps going to the episode in which the member of the Northwestern crew received the call at sea about this sister’s passing, and it hurts to think of all the men Phil fought wind and ice with getting the news.) So I’ll think of him sitting in his captain’s chair, then standing on deck, selling his “fart bubbles” fishing theory with a straight face: