It’s true — Nick Tokman has departed Deadliest Catch.
After four seasons on the hit series for Discovery, he’s shipping out to fulfill his passion and calling as a motivational speaker, drawing upon his well of life experience. The ups, downs, and in-betweens.
He wants to reach young people floundering in the big sea of life, and to help them stay the course and realize their potential and stay focused.
From being homeless and with nothing to his name to becoming part of a reality series watched the world over, Tokman is ready for his close-up.
Deadliest Catch — the Emmy-winning fly-on-the-wall series documenting hardy fisherman on the unforgiving Bering Sea — has just finished its 12th season.
In it we almost lost Captain Sig Hansen to a heart attack, the man who hired Nick out of the shipyard after he traveled cross country from New England to realize his dream of working on a crab boat with characters his grandparents introduced him to on the smallscreen.
Tokman is well educated, a business management graduate of Concordia University in Montreal, QC. His family’s objections did not stop his leaving to head west where he camped in the woods, spent a night in a homeless shelter and eventually earned a job in the shipyard spurred by his interest in catching crab.
A lot of people try and fail, but Tokman’s work ethic saw him through many years. And it did not go unnoticed as he was finally hired by the Northwestern crew and folded into the boisterous Hansen family.
Things didn’t always go well under Sig Hansen’s watch, as the video below shows.
But whether you call him by his show nicknames “sunshine” or “moonbeam”, Nick earned his keep and was one of them.
Through the danger, politics and mercurial business these Alaskan crab fisherman deal with daily, Nick evolved and became aware he had a gift to share.
Monsters and Critics: Your grandparents introduced you to Deadliest Catch, and you sacrificed much to get to Alaska and worked hard on the docks to get a gig on the Northwestern. What was your lucky break getting noticed, cast and hired?
Nick Tokman: Sig originally offered me a job, but I turned it down. My previous employer gave me the time of day when no one else did and I felt I couldn’t walk away from a guy like that.
Then I actually put water in the fuel tank and lost my job. My captain’s superiors who owned the quota forced him to let me go because they considered me an insurance liability.
I was out looking for another job. I felt completely embarrassed and nobody wanted to hire me after I told them what I did. When I was about to approach Sig for a job, everyone told me to not say what I did because they all thought I wouldn’t get hired.
When it came time to ask him for a job, he asked my why I wasn’t on the previous boat. The only thing that stuck out in my head was Mark Twain, “When in doubt, tell the truth.” I told him I put water in the fuel tank.
I think he respected that I was honest about what I did. Sig gave me a chance and offered me a job. I am very grateful he did and happy he gave me a second chance at my career.
M&C: You have talked about being homeless for a night and I wanted you to dispel some stereotypes about the homeless if you would. What were some of the feelings you dealt with when you were on the street? How did being homeless affect your psyche?
NT: Being on the streets in Kodiak, AK, wasn’t that bad in my mind. People were very helpful. I think it was because they saw I was trying to help myself.
One thing I could say about the homeless is that they’re very smart people and they are where they’re at for various reasons.
Being homeless didn’t affect my psyche negatively. It just pushed me to get out of the situation I was in. I was always questioning if I was going to make it or not though. That made me give everything I had to get a job.
M&C: How did you become close to Jake Anderson?
NT: I became close to Jake by working with him on the Northwestern. Every chance he could, he would try to teach me something new. I respected him a lot. We worked together with some strange people tendering season and his first time captaining the Saga. I thought that brought us pretty close together.
M&C: Can you talk about the idiosyncrasies of the different captains? We know Sig is a proud Norwegian-American, Edgar is less charming, but equally business-minded, Keith is a cook, Wild Man loves being in his place in Mexico, and the Hillstrands are night and day, Jonathan being more the party animal than Andy.
NT: I can give you insight to the captains I know. If you do your job, Sig is one of the best guys to work for. He really took care of me. When I was in the shipyard, he saw me working hard and offered to get me a rental car to travel around the city.
He really takes care of his guys. All the Hansens are great guys. They want to teach. That’s what I loved about the Northwestern.
The Hillstrands are goofballs as you know. They work hard and play hard at the same time.
As for Jake, that’s my brother right there. He truly cares for his crew and it is evident. He makes sure every deckhand gets comfortable bunks, flat-screen TVs and good gear.
I remember I got back from doing gearwork and I saw him drilling a second TV in the wall for me. He’s learning the ropes and doing his best as a captain. I strongly feel in a few years he will be one of the top captains out there.
M&C: Weather is a character in its own right on this series. People expect to see you guys tossed about like rogue waves. Tell me the scariest moment you ever had on a boat while out at sea. What were the circumstances and how did you survive it?
NT: I was on the Time Bandit. It was nasty weather. A wave came over the boat while I was stacking pots, causing the pot to shift back. I hung on for dear life thinking I was going to get smacked against another pot and get crushed. If it wasn’t for Scott Hillstrand, I would probably be dead or seriously crippled.
M&C: This past season, we saw how Sig’s lifestyle caught up with him. Did that moment in any way affect your decision to quit crabbing for reality TV and move on to motivational speaking?
NT: Absolutely not. The same passion that I once had for fishing is now with speaking. I loved fishing up in Alaska. It was the best eight years of my life. If I had to do it all over again I’d do the same thing. It’s just the same passion I had for fishing is now with speaking.
I feel that is my present calling and I feel I make a big impact on the youth. That is why I am leaving.
M&C: What will be your tagline to potential events? What are you speaking about?
NT: “From Homelessness to the Deadliest Catch. Hear his story.” I tell people to go after what they want in life and that it is okay to be them.
Too many students in high school are caught up with being the stereotypical cookie-cutter cool kid in the white t-shirt and blue jeans.
They go to great lengths to be accepted. They drink, do drugs, go to parties and some go so far off the deep end that before you know it they’re in a run-down apartment complex trying to find any job that they can get their hands on.
I have friends like that and I do not want to see that happen to these students.
There are also pressures from society that prevent a person from doing something and to encourage them to do something else.
I am telling a person to go after what they want, whatever it is. It’s okay to be them. But whatever it is that you want, if you want to be successful, you have to eat, breathe and sleep your dreams. That is all that is on your mind.
If you do that, then it MIGHT happen. Life is too short not to take chances, though. I also do meet and greets as well to the fans and tell my story of how, after everything I went through, I finally got on the dream boat that got me up to Alaska.