At eighteen years of age, Phil fell in love with Mary, and on his twenty-first birthday he was handed the keys to a crab boat to stand-in for his ailing father who was recuperating from the rogue wave that injured him. At twenty-two, Phil decided to get married and eleven months later, Joshua came along. Two and a half years later, Jacob was born. Mary recalls that she was the disciplinarian, while Phil got to come home and shower everyone with gifts. The pictures of Josh and Jake as children were adorable and they basically look the same today (except for the earrings and beards). Phil liked to spend money on having fun because he was fishing almost nine months out of the year and tried to make up for lost time. The strain of him being away from home took its toll on his marriage and in 1991 they divorced. He stayed in touch with Mary and his boys and Phil admitted to a friend that he will love her till the day he dies, and it sure seemed like he did. There was no doubt that he loved his boys.
When young Phil started driving the boat for the very first time; the crew was ready to walk off, he made it through with a bonehead mistake or two, but he always knew where to find the crab. Crews are at their happiest when they are hauling crab, because they know they will have a paycheck. Phil also knew that the guy in the wheelhouse is dry and warm and makes three times more than the men who work on deck.
Phil could work seventy-two hours straight and could party just a long. Phil would buy himself a Corvette or a Harley and just enjoyed his life. But some of his money he invested in the Cornelia Marie and that way he also found a way to keep his family together by employing his boys on his boat. They did not always get along, but brothers are brothers and working together on the Cornelia Marie was just what Phil loved about being a father. If you are a fan of Deadliest Catch, you have seen them take Phil’s credit card and go on a shopping spree, drive Phil to the breaking point when they would come into the wheelhouse and argue with him and just get some fatherly advice. When Phil got sick in 2008, it was a dark time for the Harris family and they wondered if Phil would ever return to fishing. After eleven months of absence, Phil returned to king crab fishing and then opilio season arrived. He was thrilled to be back at the joy of his life, but he continued to smoke like a chimney and stay awake with overdoses of caffeine, besides the diet on a crab boat is calorie laden and meals are not on a timetable. The stress of running the boat, the poor diet and excess smoking, and the added stress that Jake gave him with his addiction and admission of such demons added to his demise. Phil admitted to doing every drug known to man in his younger years and even admitted that he would not be around forever.
More to follow.