Phil Harris (fisherman)

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Phil Harris
Born Phillip Charles Harris
(1956-12-19)December 19, 1956[1]
Bothell, Washington, United States[2]
Died February 9, 2010(2010-02-09) (aged 53)
Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Cause of death
Other names Skipper, Captain
Occupation Captain of the F/V Cornelia Marie, Co-creator of Captain's Reserve Coffee
Spouse(s) (divorced) Mary Harris
Children Joshua and Jacob Harris

Phillip Charles "Phil" Harris (December 19, 1956 – February 9, 2010) was an American captain and part owner of the crab fishing vessel Cornelia Marie, which is featured on Discovery Channel's documentary reality TV series Deadliest Catch. He suffered a massive stroke while offloading C. opilio crab in port at Saint Paul Island, Alaska, on January 29, 2010. Despite improvements in his health, Harris died on February 9, 2010 at the age of 53, while suffering a pulmonary embolism in the hospital.[1][3][4]

The episode of Deadliest Catch featuring the Captain's death aired on July 20, 2010, followed by a special tribute episode.


Harris began fishing with his father at age eight and after high school began crab fishing. He initially worked on a crab boat unpaid until he proved his worth. By the time he was 21 he was one of the youngest captains of a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea. He had been the captain of the Cornelia Marie for more than 20 years at the time of his death.

Beginning in 2004 and continuing until his death, Harris and his boat were followed by an embedded film crew for the series Deadliest Catch. The Cornelia Marie was first shown during the opilio crab portion of Season 1, as a partner ship of F/V Maverick, and was heavily involved in the search effort after the sinking of the Big Valley. It became a regular fixture of the show from the second season on. During the 2008 season, Harris was thrown from his bunk during a storm and thought he had broken his ribs. However, after coughing up blood for hours, his sons and crew convinced him to seek medical attention and enlisted the film crew to watch his condition. He was determined to have suffered a pulmonary embolism and ongoing medical treatment kept him from fishing for almost a year. He returned to fishing in January 2009.

Some of Harris's sea stories were included in the book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours. In 2008, Harris developed a line of coffees, "Captain's Reserve", with blends named after fishing themes such as "Harris Family Blend" and "Midnight Sunrise."[5] Adding to his health woes was Harris's noted chain-smoking which was frequently seen on the show.[1]


During the sixth televised opilio crab season of Deadliest Catch, Harris suffered a massive stroke on January 29, 2010 while harbored in St. Paul Island, Alaska. He was flown to Anchorage for surgery, and was placed in an induced coma to reduce intracranial pressure and swelling. He awoke from the coma after his condition had improved. He was squeezing hands, talking, and showing other signs of improvement[6] but died from an intracranial hemorrhage on February 9, 2010. He was cremated, and half of the ashes were buried (in an ornately-painted Harley Davidson motorcycle gas tank) with the remains of his mother. Harris' family spread the remainder of the ashes at sea.[7] His sons Jacob and Joshua issued a statement for the Harris family, saying, "It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris. 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 that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers."[8]

The sixth season of Deadliest Catch, featuring footage of Phil Harris at work, began airing on Discovery Channel on April 13, 2010. A memorial service to Phil Harris was hosted by the Discovery Channel along Seattle's waterfront on Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 on Friday evening, April 30, 2010. This was the night before the Puget Sound's annual Opening Day for boating season. Phil's sons Jake and Josh Harris spoke at this service. A boat gave a final salute from where Phil's vessel is based in Elliott Bay.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Harris was unmarried at the time of his death, but had been married and divorced twice. His first marriage from 1982-1991 was to Mary Harris, mother of his two sons, Joshua and Jacob. Joshua and Jacob also worked on board his fishing vessel, Cornelia Marie, as deckhands. His hometown was Bothell, Washington. He enjoyed driving fast and owned both a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a Chevrolet Corvette.[15] Besides driving fast and fishing, he also enjoyed building bird feeders.[16]

Before his death, Phil Harris set up a coffee company called the Captain's Reserve. His sons Jake and Joshua are now in the process of promoting the brand and expanding the family business. National retail expansion began January 2011, and will be going global the same year.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Capt. Phil, A Celebration Of Life". 2010-10-21. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  2. ^ "Celebrity Drive: Phil, Josh, and Jake Harris of Discovery's "Deadliest Catch"". 
  3. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (2010-02-10). "Phil Harris, Crusty Captain on ‘Deadliest Catch,’ Dies at 53". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  4. ^ Teresa Blackman. "Capt. in reality TV's 'Deadliest Catch' dies after stroke". KGW. Retrieved 2010-02-10. [dead link]
  5. ^ Captain's Brew company website
  6. ^ Burgess, Kelly (2010-02-03). "Capt. Phil Harris, of 'Deadliest Catch,' shows improvement after suffering stroke". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  7. ^ Stelter, Brian (2010-06-21). "Reality TV Show Faces Ultimate Test". New York Times (New York Times). Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  8. ^ "'Deadliest Catch' Captain Phil Harris dies". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-02-12. [dead link]
  9. ^ "'Deadliest Catch' Captain Phil dead at 53". KING-TV. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  10. ^ "Here are Opening Day boat parade and event details". Seattle Times. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  11. ^ "Seattle memorial Friday for 'Deadliest' captain". KING-TV. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  12. ^ "Public memorial in Seattle Friday for 'Deadliest Catch' captain". KING-TV. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  13. ^ "Large crowd remembers Capt. Phil Harris". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-05-02. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Large crowd remembers Capt. Phil Harris". KING-TV. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  15. ^ "Phil, Josh, and Jake Harris of Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" Celebrity Drive". Motor Trend. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  16. ^ "Discovery Livechat with Phil and Josh Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie « DEADLIEST REPORTS". 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  17. ^ "Captain's Reserve Coffee!!!". 2010-06-25. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 

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