For most of his career, Johnathan Hillstrand has fished and harvested the waters for all manner of creature, from lobsters to crabs. Most recently, he has been working to lure readers, young and old.
In less than two years, Hillstrand has released three children's books focused on the adventures of Little Bird and two crabs that go by the names Joey and Andy. His latest book brings together all three as they look for pirate's treasure.
Hillstrand, 47, said the latest story brings the trio on a search for the world's greatest treasure, which, in the end, they find was close to home all along. In previous books, he had as his message the importance of working hard and following your dream.
"I've learned a lot in my life," Hillstrand said. "There are lessons I received from my grandparents, my mom and my father, and they are all in the books. They are good stories for older kids, too."
Hillstrand's foray into children's literature comes after a long career at sea. He is mostly recognized for his work as the captain of the Time Bandit, one of seven boats featured on the Discovery Channel's award-winning reality series "Deadliest Catch."
The 113-foot boat has been with the series since its start.
Hillstrand shares duties with his brother, Andy, who is co-captain of the ship. Jonathan Hillstrand's son Scott is a deckhand, as is his nephew Axel. Family is important for Hillstrand, and it is no more evident than the inspiration for his trilogy of books -- his two grandchildren.
"My grandkids love them," he said of the books, which Hillstrand also illustrated. "Everything is really colorful."
Hillstrand is hoping the children of all ages come out this weekend to the Progressive Norwalk Boat Show. He will be meeting with fans throughout the festivities, during blocks of time from Friday to Sunday.
"I have a lot of fun at the boat shows," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it."
Don't be surprised if Hillstrand pops up among the throngs looking at boats and accessories throughout the Norwalk Cove Marina during the event, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 22.
For Hillstrand, it is as much a chance to catch up with fans and sign a few books or autographs as it is to check out what's new in the industry.
If you want to become educated or have a hands-on experience, this is the show for you, said Jon Pritko, the boat show manager.
"A lot of great activities will be going on," Pritko said.
There will be some free demonstrations, such as kayak and paddle boarding by Downunder Surf Shop. There also will be chance to test ride the amphibious Sealegs. Trips aboard powerboats and sailboats also will be offered during the event. Tips and advice on maintaining or repairing your boat can be found at Fred's Shed. There also will be workshops and classes.
Or come for a peek at the Benetti 93 Delfino, or the "Queen of the Show," which is the longest boat you will see at 93-feet. It is a $9.6 million motor yacht with multiple indoor and outdoor spaces for entertaining. The Miss Geico Racing Boat will be there, too.
Children can create their own small, toy boats, have their faces painted, go for a ride on a paddleboat or meet Dora the Explorer. Check out a wings-eating contest, or enjoy your refreshments at a more leisurely pace at the Water Club Lounge. (The full schedule of activities and appearances may be found on the show's website.)
"The show has really evolved over the years," said Pritko, adding that the education component has certainly grown.
It means visitors can really get a better sense of what boat ownership is all about.
"If you decide to get into boating, you want to make sure to get the right boat for you," Pritko said.