Break out the Dramamine; it's almost time for Season 9 of "Deadliest Catch" to push back from port and set sail on another stressful and hazardous fishing season in the Bering Sea. Discovery's Emmy Award-winning reality series follows fishing vessels and their crews, who toil in the world's most dangerous profession up to 10 months per year.
[Related: 'Deadliest Catch': The Top Five Close Calls]
In this exclusive sneak peek at the season premiere, "Mutiny on the Bering Sea," it's pretty obvious that prepping to set out toward red- and blue-crab grounds borders on pure chaos for the captains, crew, and deckhands all across Dutch Harbor. "Rally time, baby!" says Scott Campbell, aka "Junior," of the Seabrooke.
Still, amid the excitement, they couldn't help but notice someone was missing: Elliott Neese of the Ramblin' Rose, the youngest captain in the fleet who struggled during last season's run. "In all honesty, I'm kinda not surprised Elliott isn't here this year," says Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern. But Campbell is less understanding: "He should be up here; he should already be ready to go."
Neese struggled with weak numbers at sea last year and was even cited by State Wildlife Troopers for possession of undersized St. Matthew blue king crab; a significant number were under the 5.5-inch legal limit. Not to mention, his head-butting with the Ramblin' Rose's owner during last season's ice storm, when Neese wanted to wait out the weather and refused to move the ship out of harbor.
Even worse, he faced some serious troubles at home: "You know what, Elliott, I'm just going to ask you to leave," said his ex-girlfriend, Valerie Gunderson, also the mother of his two kids. In February 2012, Gunderson accused Neese harassing her with phone calls and text messages -- claiming he called her 38 times and sent 15 texts within an hour. Her petition also stated that she fears for her well-being "in the event that Elliott 'snaps,'" and points out his "alcohol use [and] potential drug use." She alleged that in 2006, Neese grabbed and injured her, and that in 2010, he destroyed her property. According to TMZ, the judge in the case issued a temporary restraining order against Neese -- prohibiting him from contacting her in any way, including over the phone.
According to a recent tweet by Neese in response to a fan, though, he and Gunderson are doing fine:
@jeranblackburn things are great between Val and I best they have ever been :) !!— Elliott Neese (@CaptElliott) April 7, 2013
So will he be braving the waters in Season 9, or won't he? According to more tweets by Neese, he'll be back in the Bering Sea, and this time, it'll be on his own terms and on his own boat, the F/V Saga!
@starbuk498 nope April 16th is the premier !!! Don't miss it that's an order directly from da Captain !!!!— Elliott Neese (@CaptElliott) April 4, 2013
Crew showed up today really gettin to work on the boat we have 2 months to do a total retrofit/ makeover I hope we can make our deadline!!— Elliott Neese (@CaptElliott) April 11, 2013
Sounds promising, but according to Discovery, Neese has put everything on the line for this venture and is more than $1 million in debt with only $10 to his name. Only time will tell if his career as a captain is docked for good.
As far as the other ships, they're off and ready to bring home a life-changing (and hopefully not life-threatening) catch!
To find out if Neese makes it out to sea, and who makes a name for themselves in the rough waters, tune in to the season premiere of "Deadliest Catch" on Tuesday, 4/16 at 9 PM.