In preparation for the new season of Deadliest Catch that begins April 12 on Discovery, EW went on board the Cornelia Marie to talk exclusively to Derrick Ray, a longtime friend of the late Phil Harris who agreed to skipper the boat for the show’s seventh season. Now that Josh and Jake Harris have incurred debt by assuming part ownership of the boat (Washington-based Cornelia Marie Devlin owns the rest), the young men and Ray have decided to go after the elusive but incredibly lucrative blue crab found off remote St. Matthews Island.
EW Are blue crabs hard to get?
Derrick Ray My pat answer to everybody on that is I’ve had an illustrious Bering Sea crab career. I’ve been running boats out here since I was 23 years old. I’m the best of the best, and I’m not going to fail in 172 countries on cable TV, and reruns for 20 years. I will guarantee you that. We will catch those crab. There’s lots of room, lots of places to look. If I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody say, `Sig Hansen didn’t catch them last year,’ I’d be a frickin’ millionaire and I wouldn’t have to go do this.
EW They’re saying Sig didn’t get them?
Ray Exactly. It’s a bunch of bullsh–. Sig wouldn’t catch a pimple on my ass when it comes to being a fisherman. Okay? I’ve been retired for five f—ing years, but, I’m still one of the best out here.
EW You certainly don’t lack in confidence.
Ray I don’t lack confidence, I am an arrogant ass. But I’m also a very humble man. I know what I can and can’t do. I have been running boats for 25 years. And I have fished bigger seas than any boat on this show because I had a boat called the Siberian Sea. It was 137 feet long, it had 26 hundred square feet of living area in it. It was built to fish in the Bering Sea, it weighed over 1,500 tons completely loaded. I had it for 15 years. And I kicked a lot of guys’ asses out here, including everybody on this show. There was a lot of times Phil would call me up and go `Derrick, I need another twenty, thirty thousand pounds of crab to top off, you got a string?’ Sure brother, come right over and fill her up. I used to give him crap. My crew would get so frickin’ pissed. Like `what are you doing?’ I’m like, `We got plenty, don’t worry about it, we’ll fill the boat up.’ Old Phil’s just struggling, he’s trying to keep up. Don’t worry about it.
EW Why did you do decide to skipper the Cornelia Marie?
Ray We’re only here to finish the story. That’s what Phil asked, on his deathbed. Finish the story. So we’re going to solve two things at once. He’s going to get buried out here, his ashes are, and we’re going to finish the story, make TV, finish the story for the whole world.
EW What story needed to be finished?
Ray The end of his life, the end of the Cornelia Marie. Just shut it down. Get it off the show. I’m just the guy here to help, end the story, and try to teach the boys a little bit along the way if they will listen to me. I’ve told them `ask me questions.’ They don’t ask me good questions. Jake has still got so many frickin’ problems. He owns 25 percent of this boat now with his older brother. He’s an owner deck hand, which is an oxymoron in itself. Usually when you’re an owner of one of these boats, you’re driving them. Or you’re sitting on the beach not doing anything. But, you know, there’s no leadership, and it’s tough for him, because he doesn’t know how.
EW And Josh?
Ray Same with Josh. He’s trying. You know, they’re asking some questions but not the right questions. I’ve got to push them every day, tell them, `step up. Step up. Make lists, look around. See what needs to be done on your boat.’ I can sit here and tell you all day long what needs to be done. When I’m driving a boat, the crew is up, in the mornings, and they’re working together, there’s always something to do on a boat, fishing boat. It’s just, it’s a constant job.
EW Did you know it would be a tough transition?
Ray I knew it would be different for them. ‘I came in last year to take Phil’s place. I just let them be ‘cause they were in a tough situation themselves. They were worried about Phil, and everything else. I just stepped on board, protected them, caught the crab, got the job done, didn’t push them. We only had three deck hands anyway. You usually fish with five. So we just had to take our time and be patient. Now, we got five guys, and I actually never fished with Josh and Jake last year. They were not on the boat with me. The world thinks they were. You can only believe half the news, so don’t believe everything on a reality frickin’ TV show, okay?
EW Nice non-smoking sign you got here in the bridge.
Ray Nobody gives a shit. Steve told me, he’s — Steve looked at my engineer, he’s like — `f— Derrick, f— his rules, f— that sh–, I want Phil to be back here.’Well Phil’s dead, Phil ain’t coming back. You know what? You’re 55 years old, act like it. Don’t act like you’re a goddamn 12-year-old.
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