Deadliest Catch's Josh Harris Cried Watching Dad's Last Days

06/25/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT

Deadliest Catch's Josh Harris Cried Watching Dad's Last Days
David Yellen
A record 5.4 million viewers tuned in Tuesday to Discovery's crab-fishing reality show Deadliest Catch to see the start of a mournful journey for the family and crew of the "Cornelia Marie." It was the first of several episodes to chronicle the Jan. 29 stroke and Feb. 9 death of Captain Phil Harris, 53.

"Seeing it all happen again, it freaks me out a little bit," Harris's eldest son, Josh, tells PEOPLE. "I can't tell you how many just sat there, crying, when we watched this in the bar. I had already seen the footage and I started crying again."

It's been a time of transition for Josh, 27, and Jake, 24, as they settle their dad's affairs and move on with their lives. For the eldest son, "I am going to take care of my family and the six companies that my dad started," Josh says, "like the coffee company. That was one of his pride and joys, so I've got to take that over, along with the boat, and all his endorsements he had."

The sons are looking to buy their dad's fishing vessel, the "Cornelia Marie," outright. "I will try to get it back up and running at full strength, and be the full owner, and my guys can keep their jobs," Josh says. "I will achieve my goals. One way or another, it will happen. There is no failure in a fisherman."



For Jake, mourning his dad's passing has been a tougher challenge. As viewers witnessed this season, Jake had come clean to his father about his drug addiction. "You got to go to treatment, man," Harris told his son. "At least you'll have a fighting chance." The two embraced with Jake, saying quietly, "'I love you, Pops.'" Then, not long after Harris's death, Jake was charged with reckless driving.

Josh says his brother has since moved closer to him and is getting better. "He just went through rehab and everything is going real good," Josh says. "I have my brother back in some aspects. It's still a battle, though, but we talk about things a lot, decide things together, and he's thinking a lot more clear-minded."

While Jake is away fishing at the moment, Josh is trying his best to quit smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes. "It's one of the hardest battles of my life," Josh admits. "It's even harder of a battle than fighting the Bering Sea. But I'm on a wellness kick now, going around the U.S. and promoting health."

But, come October, Josh and Jake fully expect to be fishing and paying their last tribute to their father. "Yes, we will be releasing the rest of him back into the area where he spent the majority of his life, which is the Bering Sea," Josh says of their dad's ashes. "It will be a rough time, but we'll finally let the rest of him go." –Cynthia Wang

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