Time Bandit

By Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand

“Many brave hearts are asleep in the deep, so beware, beware,” goes the chorus of an old sailors’ sing-along that celebrates the allure and danger of the seafaring life. But make no mistake–there truly is much to beware for those who are drawn to risk their lives and seek their fortunes upon the waves. And perhaps none take more chances than the men and women who brave the tempestuous, bountiful waters of the Bering Sea. Season after season, they bond and battle with its icy depths, determined to reap yet one more rewarding harvest while eluding the ever-present threat of sudden, certain death. And among the rapidly diminishing ranks of these die-hard salts, brothers Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand have forged a reputation as fierce masters of their treacherous, enthralling trade. If you’ve watched their exploits on TV’s Deadliest Catch, you’ve only scratched the surface. To read Time Bandit is to step into their skins, smell the sea air, feel the frigid wind, and know with all your senses the exhilarating, and terrifying life on the edge.

Natives of tiny, fishing hamlet, Homer, Alaska; sons of a hard-bitten, highly successful fisherman; and born with brine in their blood, the Hillstrand boys couldn’t imagine a life without a swaying deck underfoot and a harvest of mighty Alaskan king crabs waiting to be pulled from the ocean floor. In pursuit of their daily catch, the brothers brave ice floes and heaving waves 60 feet high, the perils of 1000-lb steel traps thrown about by the punishing wind, and the constant menace of the open, hungry water.

Even the brothers’ downtime on land–where the deadly realities of the unforgiving sea are never far from their minds–is lived as if borrowed: fast and hard, haunted by the knowledge that the next season at sea could end asleep in the deep.

Here is the Hillstrands’ own heartfelt hymn to the brutally hard, gloriously independent, and mysteriously soul-satisfying life that has earned them their daily bread and defined their existence. By turns raucous and reflective, exhilarating and anguished, enthralling, suspenseful, and wise, Time Bandit chronicles a larger-than-life love affair as old as civilization itself–a love affair between striving, willful man and inscrutable, enduring nature.

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