Peggy Sturdivant
Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern and star of TV's "Deadliest Catch," appeared at the Sons of Norway Lodge May 3.

At Large in Ballard: Seafaring and spandex with Capt. Sig Hansen

It was a full house for Sig and Edgar Hansen May 3 at Sons of Norway Lodge. With their mother in the audience and an open bar in the back, Capt. Sig Hansen of the Northwestern featured on the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" was willing to talk, and the crowd was thrilled to listen.

Several commercial fishermen in the crowd commended the brothers for how they have changed the perception of the industry for outsiders.

"You guys are turning things around for the commercial fisherman," said a lifetime purse seiner.

Each brother displayed their trademark personalities, with Sig Hansen willing to "mouth off" and his younger brother Edgar Hansen treating the questions more seriously.

Sig spoke to the changes that have come with his notoriety after several years on the program.

"They will find you," he said of charity organizations and even politicians.

For as long as he has the spotlight, he is willing to use it to voice his opinions and help where he can by visits to Ronald McDonald House and participating in Make-A-Wish. He and his brother have heard numerous stories about people who were suffering but told themselves, if the guys on "Deadliest Catch" can survive, so can we.

Edgard said participating in last week's "Electron Boy" wish for a young local boy living with cancer was humbling.

The Ballard event was in conjunction with Elliott Bay Book Company, and by evening's end almost everyone in attendance had a copy of Hansen's memoir, "North by Northwestern: A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaskan Waters" (written with Mark Sundeen) in their hands ready to be autographed.

"Only in Ballard you get to do a book signing with an open bar," Sig Hansen bellowed. "I had to do one talk in a church with a pastor standing nearby. I had to watch my language and everything."

At one point, Hansen asked aloud if he was allowed to smoke inside. A supportive audience mostly replied, "Go for it." (He didn't.)

T-shirts were on sale on one side of the standing-room only auditorium, books on the other. A film crew was close at hand throughout the hourlong question and answer.

The questions addressed how the industry has changed since quotas, who was the greatest influence in Hansen's life, and his opinions on how Ballard has changed since his youth, a subject that Sig Hansen tends to answer passionately.

He riffed on how now there are all these bicycle paths and little guys in Spandex, "where before you could drive down the sidewalk ****faced."

More seriously, he remembered the days when all it took to get a job was knowing a fisherman, or a fisherman who knew your dad.

Although acknowledging the notoriety that has taken him to Jay Leno's show and put his memoir into the hands of many, Sig said, "When it's all over, screw it. I'm not going to lose my job. When it ends, I'll still be fishing."

When the talking ended, it was Edgar Hansen who stayed inside the auditorium chatting with people from the audience and his older brother, Capt. Sig Hansen, who took a cigarette break in front of the Leif Erikson Lodge before returning to sign books for a line that circled the room.

On June 10, the Northwestern will head north to Alaska for the season.

"Fishing," Hansen said, "it's a beautiful thing."

Click here for more from Peggy Sturdivant on the Hansen brothers.

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