Discovery Channel Alaskan Bush People recap: Sink or Swim

Ryan Berenz

Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.

In Season 2, Episode 15 of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Sink or Swim” (July 17), a snow storm threatens the Browns’ first hauling job on the Integrity. Noah goes on a second date with Christi.

Alaskan Bush People recap

Alaskan Bush People Season 1 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | The Wild Life

Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2Episode 3 | Episode 4Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8  | Wild Times | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | SHARK WEEK! | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Lost Footage | The Wild Year

The Browns are taking their first hauling job with the Integrity, carrying four drums of fuel 11 miles to a cabin in Nika Bay. This would be the pro bono job Hoonah Mayor Kenny Skaflestad hooked them up with in last week’s episode. Billy hopes this small  job will result in good word of mouth from some guy in a cabin 11 miles away. Billy’s staking his entire reputation on this small job for some guy in a cabin 11 miles away who must have 632,000 Facebook friends or something. Nika Bay is too shallow for the Integrity, so they’ll have to employ The Skiff to haul the drums the last mile.


Back at Brownton Abbey, Noah built a writing desk out of scrap lumber and is using a wheelchair from the dump as an office chair. Here, he longs and pines for Christi, fair bespectacled maiden of Hoonah. He writes poems and fancies himself the Elizabeth Barrett Browning of Browntown.

Ami pays Noah a visit to discuss the possibilities of his planting Browntown seed in Christi. “If you say the words ‘grandbabies,’ I’m walking out,” says Noah, expressing the thoughts of everybody watching this damn show. “Not only is she beautiful, but I’ve never met an intellect to match my own,” Noah says. Noah’s always been weird, but this is the first time I thought that he’s just a self-absorbed, conceited narcissist (or he plays one on TV). Noah can’t remember what he and Christi talked about on their first date (STUPID FRIGGIN’ DANDELIONS!) but he knows she’s The One for him. Ami asks Noah if he’ll “bring her out and show her Browntown.” Must … resist … dirty … joke …

Back on the water, the Browns are hoisting the fuel drums from the Integrity into The Skiff. The whole operation is like a monkey humping a football. First, like I noted last week, there is no way those barrels weigh 600 pounds each. Just no friggin’ weigh way. A 55 gallon drum of diesel weighs, depending on temperature and other factors, about 400 pounds. Look closely at the barrels, and it appears as if there is practically nothing in them. There is barely any tension on the ropes when they hoist the barrels. This is all just smoke and mirrors.

It’s also very tedious and boring, so Billy decides that they need to pick up the pace and transport two barrels at once in The Skiff. There’s a knot in the rope and the hoist doesn’t work. Bam takes a drum to the shin, which probably would’ve done much more damage had it really been filled with 600 pounds. Matt’s likely going to get crushed and end up at the bottom of the bay with The Skiff. Bear thinks it would be AWESOME and EXXXXXTREME to climb down the rope and on top of the barrel to die in the same manner as his elder brother. But the Browns pull a Homer.


The Skiff is loaded with two drums and about four Browns. (Seafaring friends: Could a boat that size actually carry 1,200 pounds and four people?) The “wind” is picking up, the water is getting “rougher” and the snow is making for zero visibility. Matt says he can’t see 2 feet in front of him, yet the camera sees everything just fine. Matt’s on the bow spotting imaginary rocks, and Bam gets all huffy about people shifting their weight. If they hit a rock, Gabe says they’d be up the creek without a paddle. “No, we’d be in the creek without a boat,” Bam replies. ZING! +1 for Bam! There’s some more silly manufactured drama to eat up time before The Skiff returns safely to the Integrity.

In Hoonah, Noah and Christi go to the Misty Bay Lodge (is there anyplace else?) for milkshakes. Noah goes for the gusto and asks Christi to meet his mom at the dock where the family is cleaning out the Lorcan. Of course Ami’s toothless gums flap uncontrollably and she creeps Christi out with talk of the grandbabies crap. They should call Ami “Trojan” because she is 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. HEY-YO! Christi tolerates Ami and doesn’t flee in terror.

Some weeks have passed. Billy bartered the Lorcan to some poor bastard in exchange for a ton of building materials — another lopsided barter for the Browns, BOO-YAH! — to make upgrades to the Integrity.

Back at Brownton Abbey, Billy pays Noah a visit in his tent. Noah tells Billy that Christi is gone for good and will not be participating in the Browntown Propagation Project. “I just wasn’t enough, I guess, so she decided to go ahead and head off to college,” Noah whines. You mean she wanted to pursue knowledge and a career instead of spending the remainder of her life as Ami Brown’s grandbaby factory? Silly girl.

“The only heart I’m going to have is the one on my shelf,” Noah tells Billy. Noah means this literally. He has deer hearts in jars on his shelf. “OK, that’s just creepy,” Billy says, uttering the first bit of truth he’s said in this entire series. This would creep me out too if it weren’t all fake. So why, pray tell, does Noah have deer hearts on his shelves? “‘Cause I’m doing experiments with it,” he says, “but I guess in a way that could be a metaphor, that after my breakup with Christi, that I’ve put my heart in a jar and set it on a shelf, that way it can’t get broken again.”


Noah tells Billy that he hasn’t given up hope finding The One. “I just hope I don’t have to genetically create her,” he says. Someone needs to send this kid a DVD of Weird ScienceHe wrote a poem for Christi. He called it “Christi’s Poem,” because “Forget Not Yet: The Lover Beseecheth His Mistress Not To Forget His Steadfast Faith And True Intent” was already taken. And here we go:

“Christi’s Poem”
Love is fleeting, love is fleeting.
I loved and then she’s leaving.
Why is love so ever oh so fleeting?
Where does lie its meaning?
I loved her with all my heart,
Did all she asked.
I loved and she began fleeting,
And there lies love’s true meaning.

[Digression! I earned a B.A. in English (stop laughing!). I studied literature, mostly early 20th century British modernism. I tried to write a few poems, realized they were all horrible, and I stopped. I don’t ever recall trying to rhyme “fleeting” with “fleeting.” I like what what Noah did in the last line, with the nice juxtaposition of “lies” and “true,” whether he intended it or not. There’s your literary criticism digression for today.]

Billy dry docks the Integrity for extensive repairs. Billy’s sunk (pun intended) lots of cash into this boat, and he’s desperate to start making some of it back. He approaches Paul, who’s like the king of hauling freight in Hoonah. Billy says he’s willing to take on the garbage jobs that Paul wouldn’t touch with a 25-foot pole. “I do appreciate Billy’s honesty,” Paul says. “He doesn’t seem to be portraying himself as something he’s not.”


Paul is going to inspect Billy’s boat before he lets Billy do any business for him. Immediately Paul sees something vulnerable with Billy’s keel cooler. The Integrity also has no deck space, the picking boom has no hydraulic or electric winch, and it has no tie downs for securing cargo. But Paul doesn’t want to look like a jerk on national cable TV, so he gives Billy the thumbs up.

“I feel like the weight of the world just got lifted off my shoulders,” Billy says. That weight certainly wasn’t lifted by an electric or hydraulic winch.

Billy discovers some cracks in the Integrity‘s hull that may have been caused by the dry docking. They’re not just cracks, though. There’s a 4- or 5-foot-long section of rotted wood on the hull. “I may have bought an old rotten boat,” Billy says. “An old, rotted, stinking sinker.”


  1. I have been watching Alaskan Bush People for about a year now. The biggest irritation is Bam Bam. He is simply an ass-hole. Bam is a verbal bully. I learned in the military, that you have to be a good follower. He is a lousy leader, and he does not know how to be a follower. He is killing my interest in the show. As soon as Bam opens his mouth, my mind shuts down and I change the channel. In short; I would not follow Bam out of curiosity. Bam…shut up.

  2. There was an article saying that Billy’s brown sez he has written over 70 books, if that is true then why were they poaching of of government land, living on government land and not paying taxes, I have only one word for him. LOOSER , nothing but white trash. You and the rest of your LOOSER family, I wish that you and your LOOSER white trash family would die in a fiery car crash. Fuck you Billy’s blue boy and your LOOSER piece of shit family

    • You mad bro? Must be to spew that much hatred. How bout expressing your opinion by not watching the show. If you and your family were at all interesting then the Discovery Channel would send a camera crew to follow you around. Have they called you yet? The internet is full of trolls and haters (like you). Wishing someone to die in a fiery car crash. Really? What’s wrong with you? Mommy not love you enough? Daddy show his love by beating you when he got home from work? Was that mean of me to say? Not funny? No, huh. Neither are you and your comments. Stop trolling like a little bioch!

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About Ryan Berenz 2080 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife