Spike Walker's tale of his adventures in the king crab fishery in Alaska have spawned a number or sequels, imitators, and even the TV show Deadliest Catch. Walker's tale is the original though, following the adventures of young Walker from his first gig in 1978 as a "greenhorn" on the Royal Quarry through the eight-year boom time of the Alaska king crab fishery. If a crewman got on the right boat during those years, he (or occasionally she, as Walker is quick to point out early in the book) could take home $100,000 or more for two months of work. But the work was hard, the hours long (sometimes days at a time with no sleep), and the whole enterprise occasionally deadly.
Once inside the raft, the crew members found that they were still tied to the sinking vessel. Each time the ship rolled, the keel flashed past them, the raft line came tight, and the shape of their raft contorted. They were in real danger of being pulled under, but no one could find a knife. Finally, in blind desperation, Magoteaux began chewing on the line in an effort to sever it with his teeth before the boat sank and dragged them all down with it."Then Tom [the captain] remembered he had a pocketknife," recalls Magoteaux. "But he had to take his [survival] suit halfway down to get at it. The waves were crashing in on us, and with his suit still half down, we held on to him as he leaned out one end of the raft. Though he got thoroughly drenched, Tom managed to cut the line or that would have been it for us! He got soaked, and with his suit half full of water, he never did get warmed up after that."No sooner had they cut themselves free of their sinking ship than the typhoon-force winds whipped them off into the spray and darkness. Lifted and tossed by the heaving waves, and with the storm winds roaring constantly across the roof of the dome-covered raft, they could only drift and wait for daylight.