The news of the death of Nick McGlashan, one of the stars of the reality-television series “Deadliest Catch,” shocked many of his colleagues as well as the loyal fans of the TV show. He was part of the Discovery Channel’s award-winning show from 2011, crabbing in the Bering Sea aboard three different fishing vessels Kodiak, Cape Caution and Summer Bay over a decade. Ironically, it wasn’t the danger of dealing with the rough seas that took his life as most people initially thought. Unfortunately, it was his way of dealing with his inner demons over the years that ended his life unceremoniously – alcohol and drug addiction.

How did Nick McGlashan start crabbing?

Nick came from a family of commercial fishermen from the remote Aleutian village on the island of Akutan, Alaska. He was born Bruce Nicholas McGlashan on 1 August 1987, in Anchorage, Alaska, to parents Bruce Lanford and June McGlashan. He grew up in a Christian household with his parents attending the Orthodox Church of the Holy Ascension in Unalaska; he later served as an altar boy to the priest who baptized him.

For some reason, he and his sister, Melissa, went along with his father when the latter moved to the small town of Eureka in Montana, and matriculated from the local high school there.

The seventh-generation fisherman was the grandnephew of his namesake, Nick McGlashan, who was part of the fishing crew of the fishing vessel called F/V Deep Sea, which was built in 1947, and was rumored to have been the pioneer of the US crabbing industry. Other members of his family perished at sea, including an aunt whose boat capsized and went down in 1986. To continue with the family’s legacy, at the age of 13 Nick started crabbing and salmon fishing along with his sister aboard his father’s fishing vessel F/V Westling. He fell in love with fishing, and would go and work with the crew on his father’s boat after school hours, from which he gained tons of experience that prepared him for a life of professional crabbing.

Nick’s journey with “Deadliest Catch”

At the age of 24, Nick started working under Captain Bill Wichrowski, fondly called “Wild Bill,” one of his father’s longtime friends, on the fishing boat named Kodiak. The captain had 20 years of successful experience as a King Crab fisherman on Alaska’s unforgiving Bering Sea, the lure of earning huge profits that led him to pursue this career. After spending so much time battling the seas, Captain Bill went into semi-retirement in 2005, and focused on giving sport-fishing tours around the coastal waters of Mexico and Costa Rica. However, when things took a downturn financially, he took it upon himself to go back to commercial fishing, and sought out a spot in the TV series, “Deadliest Catch.” In 2010, after Captain Phil Harrison, one of the stars of the TV show died, “Wild Bill” convinced the executive producers that he could keep up with the game, and along with his crew aboard the F/V Kodiak joined the fleet of boats crabbing in Alaska during the sixth season of the TV show; Nick was seenion the TV show by the eighth season.

Nick’s skills and work attitude

With his hard-working attitude, he quickly absorbed all the training he got from his captain, and earned his respect. Eventually, when Bill went on to captain another fishing vessel called Cape Caution, Nick was promoted to Deck Boss. Their personalities were a match made in heaven, because he was the calm to the captain’s grouchiness. Nick was Bill’s go-to guy as he was very efficient on the boat, and could easily take on any roles that the captain asked him to do.

In the ninth season, a 25-year-old Nick was seen giving tips to one of the veteran crew members, Kerby Mitchell, who was the ship’s engineer with 30 years of experience as a fisherman. Nick showed him how to control the ship’s hydraulic crane so that everyone would be safe, and no one got injured. At that time, Nick was responsible for throwing the hook to retrieve the steel pots left at the bottom of the sea. However, the aging crew engineer couldn’t do it right and when things became awry, Captain Bill decided to switch their places and let Nick handle the hydraulic crane.

The great thing about Nick was that he had this easy down-to-earth attitude, so when Kerby told the deckhands to bear with him, Nick assured the veteran that he was doing all right. Instead of taunting the old guy, he told the rest of the crew to give the engineer another chance to redeem himself, and with that much encouragement, the engineer was able to do his job which somehow satisfied the captain. Everyone was happy, most especially since they caught more crabs with their pots.

A competent multi-tasker Deck Boss

Nick spotted the ship’s greenhorn taking shortcuts to save time. When they retrieved the pot from the bottom of the ocean, they would replace the bait with a new one after taking all the crabs out of it, then putting it back in the water. The greenhorn thought that it might be time-saving to just reuse old bait, but this didn’t yield good results. At that time, Nick was busy hauling in the new catch, but could still see if the other deckhands weren’t doing their job properly.

However, he didn’t catch the guy right away, and when the deckhand was questioned, he told Nick that he only did that for two pots. When they later hauled the pots, it was obvious that the greenhorn did that in seven pots, which gave them just one or two crabs. If Nick had been completely oblivious, the whole string of 90 to 150 pots would be filled with old baits, and that would have wasted their time.

Nick’s health issues that made him commit mistakes

A successful fishing life on the Bering Sea could generate a huge amount of money for crab fishermen, but one should expect tragedies and disappointments along the way. In Season 13 Nick was not his usual self, which worried everyone especially Captain Bill. Nick was the captain’s reliable right-hand guy as he was very good at his job. That season, he seemed quite tired and wasn’t 100% alert while on deck. He told a colleague that he’d been hospitalized months before they sailed for a respiratory problem, but chose not to get any treatment. His colleague told him to heed the doctor’s advice, so that he wouldn’t end up bursting an organ.

Nick McGlashan

Nick said that he was afraid that the doctor would tell him that his condition was worse than he imagined it would be.

When Captain Bill inquired about his condition, he just said that he had a sore throat, so the captain asked if he’d brought antibiotics with him. Unfortunately, Nick hadn’t, and so was reminded that he should be prepared for anything that might happen while at sea. They couldn’t afford any mistakes, or they might not only fail to meet the quota, but also someone could lose their life.  It didn’t take long for Nick to make a mistake, as he couldn’t control the hydraulic crane properly, which led to a steel pot falling. He forgot to clamp the steel pot before launching it, so it nearly crashed into the other crew members who were waiting to take the crabs out of the pot. If not for the deckhands’ quick reflexes, someone could have been injured or ended up dead. Nick was quite apologetic and acknowledged that something wasn’t right with him, saying that he couldn’t do his job because he was in too much pain at that time.

The rest of the crew agreed that Nick was probably too sick, because he’d never made crucial mistakes in the past, and was always careful to avoid any injuries on the deck. Nobody was mad at him as they saw how he was trying to do his best given the situation. The good thing about it was that their pots caught many crabs.

Terminal illness scare or not

The captain planned to take Nick to the clinic for a check-up when they returned to port to deliver their haul. He felt that there was something Nick was hiding from them, and he also wanted his Deckhand Boss in good health before they went back to the sea. When they talked in the ship’s wheelhouse, Nick confessed that his doctors said that there’s an imbalance in his blood count that might be an indication of cancerous cells. The captain told Nick that they needed to confer with the doctors so they could fix it; Nick was grateful and hugged the captain before he left. When his x-ray result came out, it was okay, and the doctor said he just needed to rest and quit smoking. However, Captain Bill was suspicious of what it was that really made Nick’s health deteriorate.

He was afraid that he couldn’t do anything about what was bothering Nick, and if remained unchecked, he might lose another buddy.

Captain Bill discovered Nick’s real illness – opiate addiction

In the fourth episode of Season 13, Captain Bill finally discovered the truth about Nick. At that time, the F/V Summer Bay was docked at Dutch Harbor just waiting to set sail once again. The captain was sitting in the wheelhouse when he noticed two guys had just come out of the crew member’s area – Nick’s cousin was one of them, and the other guy was an unknown buddy. He was suspicious of what had happened and went to investigate. Nick was so wasted and couldn’t even look him in the eye when the captain confronted him. When Bill searched Nick’s compartment, he found drugs on his bed, subsequently saying that he’d enough, and fired Nick. The captain also blamed himself for always giving Nick the benefit of the doubt, and had given him several chances because he treated him like a son. He was so disappointed that Nick had the gall to tell everyone that he probably had cancer or pneumonia, the captain saying that business and family truly didn’t mix well.

Before the F/V Summer Bay left the harbor that day, all Nick’s things were left on the dock.

Another chance for Nick to be part of Captain Bill’s crew

After their fallout, Nick was given another chance as he voluntarily entered a rehabilitation facility. Bill told him that he had to want it so badly for it to work. The good thing about Nick this time around was that he acknowledged his alcohol and drug addiction problem; that alone was already a major improvement. A pact was made between the two that a new level of honesty must be maintained even if just to tell the old guy that he’s tempted to use again, so they could do something about it.

Captain Bill said that Nick had worked for him for many years, and he didn’t want to give up on him. It was even the old skipper who etd his Deck Boss at the airport, so that the latter could join his crew when they set sail again. It was hilarious that when they were on their way back to Dutch Harbor, a police car was speeding behind them with the siren and lights on, and they thought that the police were after Nick, but it sped past them.

Nick never had a major problem again with the crew or the captain on F/V Summer Bay; everything seemed to work out just fine for him. Whether he was able to cure his addiction completely at that time wasn’t clear, but he had been an efficient Deck Boss since then. It didn’t matter if the Bering Sea was calm or they were in the middle of an Arctic storm, Nick was there in great condition, and made sure everything the captain ordered was done properly on deck.

Nick helped others to overcome their addiction

When Nick became sober and clean, he made it his mission to extend help to others who were still battling with addiction by sharing his experience and how he overcame his demons. There was a two-part article he wrote for Chosen Magazine entitled “The Deadliest Disease.” He shared how his life from being a Bering Sea badass to a full-blown junkie quickly evolved.  Nick said that the alcoholic in him meant that at least he wasn’t an addict; the meth addict in him said at least he wasn’t on heroin; the heroin addict in him said at least he was not a tweeker, but in reality, he said he was all of them.

He said that it was as if a higher power reached out to him on 8 November 2016, when he texted someone with the words, “I NEED HELP.” Friends did help, and those three words saved his life. Three days later, he entered rehab.

The untimely death of Nick McGlashan and the reason behind it

Three weeks before the news of his death went viral online, Nick uploaded a photo of a sunrise taken from a ‘plane window, captioned ‘Be a sunrise in someone’s life today.’ So, it was a shock to his followers that he died because of a drug overdose at the Holiday Inn in Nashville on 28 December 2020. After an investigation, it was reported that he was in Nashville to have fun with friends. The Nashville Center for Forensic Medicine official Krista Hammonds further said, ‘Drug paraphernalia was found “nearby” in the bathroom…First responders tried to revive him with a defibrillator but were unsuccessful.’ When the toxicology report was released, it showed that Nick had a dangerous mix of cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.

Fans already knew that he had a serious problem with alcohol and drugs back in Season 13 of “Deadliest Catch.” Most of the fishermen in the series said that he was one of the most talented fishermen who had a great work ethic and right attitude, and it was for those reasons that Captain Bill and the TV show’s executive producers urged him to get help after he was fired from the show. Nick agreed and entered a facility to work on his problem. After rehab, he was offered his job back on deck with the F/V Summer Bay. Everyone thought that he was doing well since then, but unfortunately he slipped and went back to his old habit.

His family, co-workers, and friends were devastated. He was survived by his two children, a seven-year-old girl named Lennyn Annette Richardson and a one-year-old son named Kane Wilder Hammond, along with his parents, sisters, and brothers. His family said that Nick would be remembered as an efficient, quick-witted fisherman, and a caring young man who tried his best to overcome his addiction by sharing his struggle with the public.

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