There are a thousand ways to die on the Bering Sea, and it seemed like all 1,000 hurtled toward the Alaska Ranger at 2 a.m. that Easter morning.
Massive waves—skyscraper-size and Bible black—smashed the Ranger. Snow squalls blasted the deck. A storm gripped the 203-foot mackerel boat 120 miles off the Alaskan coast. Waves flooded the rudder room, rushing past watertight compartment doors.
“Catastrophic hull failure!” an officer shouted.
The electricity cut off. Suddenly, the engine locked into reverse.
As the crew scrambled into neoprene survival suits, they peered into the wheelhouse where Capt. Peter Jacobsen called maydays into the radio. The fishmaster—a mysterious officer from Japan who directed them toward fertile fishing grounds—sat in the wheelhouse smoking a cigarette, staring straight ahead. His survival suit hung unzipped off his shoulders.
He expects to die, the crew realized.