Adorned with the Jolly Roger on the bow, the Time Bandit is the closest thing to a Pirate boat currently plying the Bering Sea. A family-run boat, the Time Bandit is skippered by brothers Johnathan Hillstrand during King Season and Andy Hillstrand during Opies with younger brother Neal acting as boat engineer/cook and Johnathan's son, Scott, working the deck.
The two older brothers are well known for their antics: practical jokes, fireworks on deck and creative greenhorn hazing. However that doesn't mean they take fishing lightly. For the past three seasons, the Hillstrands have hit the same honey hole for King crab and came up big. The Hillstrands are not all fun and games, and their moods will turn on a dime if things get too loose and a deckhand gets lazy or insubordinate. These men believe in legacy, family heritage and rewarding hard work, all of which will play a factor this year in deciding how to hand off the helm to a new generation of Time Bandit captain.
With the self-confidence of a leader and the heart of a teddy bear, Johnathan Hillstrand runs a generally happy boat - and a very tight ship. With the dangers posed by the Bering Sea, the safety of his crew has to be his chief concern. There is no room for mistakes when Johnathan is in the wheelhouse. Although a serious fisherman, John is also known as the practical joker onboard the Time Bandit. "Flour bombs," teetering buckets of water, and the unexpected detonation of a seal bomb or two are just a few of his favorite pranks! He'll also reveal from time to time a soft spot for wounded seabirds and other creatures.
Like his brothers, Johnathan was born and raised in Alaska. Life at sea began at an early age; their father, John Sr., took them out on the boat just after they'd learned to walk. The Hillstrand brothers began fishing at the age of seven. Johnathan became a full-time fisherman after high school. He has not only been a crab fisherman, but for eight years, he professionally fished for lobster off the New England coast. When he's not crabbing in the winter, you'll find Johnathan fishing for salmon during the summer on board his boat Fishing Fever.
With so much fishing, Johnathan has little time for recreation. When he does get a break, Johnathan splits his time between Seattle and Homer,Alaska spending time with family and friends. Johnathan has two grown children, Tae and Scott, and two grandchildren. His favorite kind of fun - riding a Harley Fatboy - has a thrill almost as sweet as a full pot of crab. More recently, he has also been outfitting a vintage muscle car to race against Andy.
Co-Captain and Deckboss Andy Hillstrand
Andy is a born and bred Alaskan fisherman. He and his brothers were brought up to take on the challenges of the harsh, unforgiving northern seas and to reap the bounty they offer. Aboard the Time Bandit, Andy is co-captain with his brother Johnathan. During opilio crab season, you'll find Capt. Andy in the wheelhouse hunting for the elusive opies and fighting rogue waves and hull-crushing ice. Known as the "Axeman," Andy is the consummate professional fisherman and takes every aspect of crew and boat safety seriously. During king crab season, he trains deckhands and serves as a hardworking deckboss who makes sure there are no lapses or accidents. It should come as no surprise that Andy wears many hats on the Time Bandit: electrician, medic and master crab fisherman to name a few.
Andy is a devoted family man. He and his wife, Sabrina, have been married 26 years and have two grown daughters, Chelsey and Cassandra. Andy is also a grandfather: Chelsey and her husband Corbin are proud parents of two little boys, Dylan and Kade.
When he's not fishing, Andy returns home to his other passion, his ranch and horses. Specializing in natural horsemanship, Andy and Sabrina not only train horses, but also teach riding to adults and children. Once upon a time in Alaska, Andy was a barrel horse-racing champion for three years running!
Andy's recreational interests are as diverse as his skills onboard the Time Bandit. When he has time, Andy likes to hunt, play the drums, and pilot remote-controlled airplanes and helicopters. Since grade school, he's played and listened to everything from hard rock to country to golden oldies, and he'll never pass on the opportunity to vacation in exotic tropical locations where he can dive and snorkel.
This season Andy is on the walking wounded list. A wave that sent him to the deck last year and smashed his knee also seriously injured his neck. As king season starts, he can hardly turn his head, and sometimes can't feel his right arm. However, his attitude is still good, and he said the break from physical work will give him more time to supervise the deckhands, and plot ways to prank them!
Neal is the youngest of the five Hillstrand brothers. Like his siblings, he has been around the ocean from a very young age. He has spent much of this time on the decks of the Time Bandit. Neal truly knows every aspect of keeping the family crabbing boat ready for sea. Whether he is serving as engineer, deckhand, cook or skipper, Neal delivers a total effort for crew and vessel. Onboard, Neal is known as the "king of one-liners" for his quick-witted sense of humor.
When Neal is not tending to the Time Bandit, he owns and operates a hydroseeding and landscape business that keeps him busy through much of the spring and summer. Neal has two grown sons, Phillip and Axel, and enjoys spending time with them whenever possible. In his spare time, he enjoys NASCAR racing, hockey, football, and his family's yearly vacation to Hawaii. As you might expect, Neal also enjoys surf and sport fishing. He was featured in a 1983 issue of National Fisherman for his salmon fishing. Neal has also caught a 300-pound halibut and a trophy-size marlin!
Remaining true to the Hillstrand fishing legacy, Capt. Johnathan's son, Scott serves aboard the Time Bandit as a deckhand. He commonly runs the boat's hydraulics, but like all of the crew he's trained to do just about anything.
Scott was born in his father's hometown of Homer, Alaska, and has been working in commercial fishing since he was 15. He has fished for lobster off the Atlantic coast with his father, and in Alaska aboard the Time Bandit. Scott plans to continue working on the boat so he can eventually take over the family business. As part of this goal, he has applied for his captain's license and insurance to run a commercial boat.
Scott's hobbies include hunting, sport fishing, machining, and motorcycles. He enjoys listening to a variety of music, sitting around campfires, and riding anything "fast." He also intends to write and publish a book.
Scott is the proud father of his 3-year-old son, Sawyer.
Also affectionately called "Eddie Pineapple" because of his Hawaiian roots, he is a long-time friend and schoolmate of all the Hillstrands. Eddie has been crabbing for more than 20 years and has fished on many different vessels. He's a gung-ho fisherman with a fierce work ethic. A couple of years ago, he broke his ankle and was told by the doctor not to work on deck, but within a week he was out shoving pots in the bitter cold. In addition to crabbing, he also salmon-fishes with Scott during the off-season.
In the past two seasons, he has taken over the boat in the summers, putting in monstrous hours and time away from home. The effort has not gone unnoticed. Skippers John and Andy now see Eddie as a possible candidate for the wheelhouse.
Eddie divides his time between Alaska and his native Hawaii. He is also the proud father of four children and three grandchildren.
Another native of Homer, Alaska, Mike started fishing on the Time Bandit when he was 18. In 2006, he got married and took a year and a half off. Mike returned to the Time Bandit during the 2008 king crab season, resuming his role as a skilled deckhand and engineer. Widely regarded as talented, hardworking and good-natured, Mike now lives in Washington state.
His work ethic and knowledge led the Hillstrands to temporarily name him the next Time Bandit captain last year, an offer they quickly pulled back. The repeal didn't seem to bother him too much, but in 2010 Mike bought a salmon boat in Bristol Bay, which took him away from theTime Bandit for the summer.
A longtime deckhand on the Wizard, Travis has now switched allegiences to Captain Keith's mortal enemies, the Hillstrands. After taking a gig racing an off-shore speedboat sponsored by the Time Bandit instead of working on the Wizard in the shipyard, Keith suggested Travis find a new home. Travis made a call and was quickly snapped up by the Time Bandit. The swap was a blow to Keith, and the relationship between he and Travis frayed. On deck, Travis' outgoing personality is a good fit for the Time Bandit, but there's also a salty side to this crewman.
In Travis Lofland's new cookbook, Catch!: Dangerous Tales and Manly Recipes from the Bering Sea (Thomas Nelson, Inc.), he teams with his Cordon Bleu-trained brother Chef Jason Lofland to share a selection of recipes perfected during a lifetime of outdoor pursuits and kitchen adventures, seasoned with stories from the sea.
Growing up as Capt. Phil's oldest son, Josh has always seemed to know that hard work and loyalty are the only qualities that can earn the respect of captain and crew. Josh has had to work hard on his confidence and dedication ever since a childhood accident with a catcher/processor generator left him hesitant about following the family fishing tradition.
Josh eventually chose to stick with fishing, but he did spend some time on another boat and worked in a processing plant before joining his father's crew. Since that time he has developed into a first-class fisherman.
When Captain Phil became gravely ill last year, it was Josh who showed the most concern and responsibility. During the crisis, Josh stepped up and did what he thought was best for his father and his family business. With his brother Jake, he now has to face a new life -- and fishing -- without his father.