On Feb. 9, 2010, Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie and one of the stars of Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, died at the age of 53 from complications following a stroke while off-loading crab nine days before.
A year later, Harris’s fellow fishermen say the Bering Sea is a bit lonelier without him.
“Something is definitely missing,” Northwestern captain Sig Hansen tells PEOPLE. “You can feel it everyday out here. There’s no more fun radio chatter among the boats. Phil was known for his colorful commentary about storms, crew life – whatever was on his mind.”
Hansen adds, “Our boat-to-boat radio was like The Phil Show. He always kept us entertained and now that is all silent.”
In Harris’s absence, “We try to make up for his loss by getting on the radio and giving each other s–, since Phil was a master of that,” says Andy Hillstrand, co-captain of The Time Bandit.
But all crew find consolation in knowing that Harris’s sons, Josh and Jake, continue to head out to the sea.
“It’s definitely different without Phil,” Hillstrand says, “but it’s great when you are off-loading in port and you look over and see the Cornelia Marie and see Josh and Jake – you feel like a part of Phil is still here. He was a great dad to those boys and now the fleet is all behind them, there for them to support and guide them.”
To honor Harris, Discovery is inviting fans to change their Facebook photo to Phil’s.
A new season of the Deadliest Catch returns in April.