‘Deadliest Catch’ Videographer Explained Why He ‘Never’ Slept While at Sea

by Amy Myers
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

With huge waves, driving rain and near-freezing temperatures, it might not be surprising that sleeping on a Deadliest Catch vessel is a challenge. For the actual stars of the show, these conditions are as typical as scales on a fish. We wouldn’t be surprised if they had trouble sleeping on land, instead. However, for a cameraman from Santa Monica, catching some shuteye probably took an adjustment period. And even after camera operator Tim Dowling became acclimated to the extreme conditions, he still couldn’t sleep while on the water.

It wasn’t because of seasickness or even homesickness. While onboard the Time Bandit for the first two months of his job, Dowling was on the receiving end of the crew’s frequent nighttime pranks. As the new kid on the vessel, of course, there’s going to be an initiation. But Dowling probably expected this to come from his fellow camera crew workers rather than the anglers themselves. During an interview on The Nine Club, the Deadliest Catch cameraman detailed how the stars of the show would keep him on his toes.

“They would tie your blankets to a buoy and then throw the buoy over, so it would then rip off and go up and go overboard,” Dowling explained, laughing along with the hosts of the show.

See the full interview below.

Dowling added that the Deadliest Catch stars would also douse water on him in the middle of the night and set off the alarm to scare him.

“They would ride you, but it was all in good fun,” he shared.

Despite the lack of sleep, Dowling never regretted becoming a member of the Time Bandit.

“Those guys were amazing,” the Deadliest Catch cameraman said. “The Hillstrand brothers, they were the coolest dudes ever.”

Dowling Shared He Had to Earn the Trust of ‘Deadliest Catch’ Stars

Hailing from the sunny coast of California, when Dowling wanted to work with the stars of Deadliest Catch, he no doubt had to prove he could hang with the toughest anglers in the Bering Sea. So, to test his skills, Dowling first headed to the site of a different show, Ax Men.

While on the logging hills of Oregon, Dowling learned that he would need to be aware of his surroundings at all times, a skill that surely came in handy while at sea. For a month, the cameraman filmed the Kings of the Mountain in the center of all the action. He recalled having to dodge falling logs that slipped from their supports.

Meanwhile, on Deadliest Catch, Dowling faced a very different but equally important challenge — earning the trust of the stars.

“You gotta get embedded with these guys,” Dowling explained. “You’re about to hang out with some of the saltiest, gnarliest dudes who have been doing this for generations.”

Luckily for the Santa Monica cameraman, the Deadliest Catch crew knew that Dowling would be a great addition to the team.