“Bering Sea Gold” is a reality TV series that follows several groups of dredgers as they mine for gold in the unpredictable and always cold Bering Sea. Coming from the creators of “Deadliest Catch,” the series premiered in 2012, and has been running for 14 seasons on Discovery Channel. Filmed during the summer and spring dredging season, it achieved enormous popularity, and catapulted its cast members into stardom, one of whom is Shawn Pomrenke, captain of Christine Rose and son of another cast member, Sean Pomrenke, who has been a regular since the first season. According to the latest reports, while filming the content for the upcoming season of the “Bering Sea Gold,” one of the vessels encountered problems, and Shawn was one of the first to lend a hand! Let’s dive into this, Shawn’s selfless rescue!
About the Show and Gold Mining
Since the dawn of ages, people have been fascinated with treasure hunts and stories of vast and undiscovered fortunes, particularly precious metals such as gold. People have been searching for this highly coveted metal on land, mining tirelessly to reach an opportunity to tap into unexplored riches. Interestingly, Nome is historically known as a site of the most famous American gold rushes, which attracted numerous gold hunters to the area. Nome is believed to have innumerable deposits of gold, especially the floor of the Bering Sea, which is the targeted location of “The Bering Sea” miners.
While on the show, gold mining seems like an inviting adventure, but in reality, it’s far from being any sort of exciting journey. Gold mining is a very unpredictable, unstable, and laborious job that demands a lot of physical and mental readiness. The miners work only during the seasons, but this means they are constantly mining for gold by pulling 12- to 16-hour shifts to earn their money’s worth. Furthermore, in order to launch this sort of organization, one must have an almost bottomless pocket, as dredges are highly expensive, require continuous maintenance and so constant investment. Miners often had to take loans to finance these sorts of expeditions, without any guarantee that they would mine enough gold to make any profit. On top of all these downsides, gold mining poses numerous dangers, and it’s not out of the ordinary for crew members to get injured, or even suffer fatal consequences.
If you have ever wondered how the gold dredges work- this placer mining machine extracts gold from sand, gravel, and dirt, using water and mechanical methods. These suction machines use steel ‘buckets’ at the front of the dredge, and the scooped sand or dirt is sorted using water.
Although, according to reports, Nome locals usually roll their eyes at the show, which in their opinion has a lot of drama, it’s undeniable that the show boosted Nome’s image as a tourist attraction, as the location of the popular Discovery series.
Who is Shawn Pomrenke?
Shawn Pomrenke is now a TV reality star, a gold miner who found his fame in one of the most popular Discovery series, “Bering Sea Gold “, but the experienced miner has also made headlines for his numerous altercations and arrest. He was born on 26 March 1975, in Nome, Alaska, where he’s spent most of his life. He became involved in gold mining during his teenage years as his father, Steven, was a known dredger with years of experience under his belt. In an interview, Shawn revealed that he got the gold bug the first time he saw a flake of gold, and at that moment, he decided that he wanted to pursue it as a career. Talking of his education, he attended Nome Beltz High School, then after matriculating, he opted to join his father’s business rather than pursue an further academics.
Coking up some dinner!!! pic.twitter.com/g6XRo9USqX
— Shawn Pomrenke (@ShawnBSG) September 25, 2014
Shawn and his father built the Christine Rose, a high-line dredge, and one of the biggest in Alaska, and upgraded their business. They got their lucky break when they were invited to appear in “Bering Sea Gold,” which boosted their business and brought fame to the Pomrenke family. Shawn was initially introduced to the show as a deckhand, and slowly moved up the ladder. Those who have followed the Pomrenke family journey know that Steve and Shawn have entirely different personalities and approaches to gold mining. Unfortunately, it seems that the apple sometimes falls far from the tree, as the two often do not see eye to eye, and argue about running the business. Reportedly, Steve was worried about leaving the company to Shawn, as he questioned his son’s ability to keep the family business afloat.
Steve retired from the show in 2018, but it’s believed that he’s still involved in running their company Pomrenke Mining LLC. So naturally Shawn took over the Christine Rose, and appeared in the show as the sole captain of the vessel, and had a series of successful hauls on the show – on one occasion, he mined 117 ounces of gold worth $225,000. In 2021, Shawn bought Myrtle Irene, Ken Kerr’s mining vessel rated the largest dredge in Nome. Allegedly, Myrtle Irene cost over$ 3 million, plus another $1 million which Shawn invested into repairing and upgrading the vessel. Shawn’s appearance in the 13th season as a captain of Ken’s ship brought about a lot of controversy and speculation, as fans created theories to explain how this occurred, especially as Ken and Shawn were known as arch enemies, always competing against each other to score the biggest haul and take the annual title.
Shawn’s Heroic Rescue
While filming for the next season, a boat flipped over as it was towing a gold mining excavator barge into the harbor, when the wind began blowing violently, kicking up the surf and creating an unstable environment on the Bering Sea. Even though the barge contained spuds that would have permitted it to raise the platform higher than waves, the winds were so severe that the barge owners opted to bring it into the harbor, where they believed it would be safe. However, the skiff entitled “War Pony” that was towing the barge overturned as the tow line recoiled, and the only person on the lightship was thrown into the sea. Luckily, there was a nearby support boat with crew members who immediately reacted and rescued the captain of the skiff, who was shaken and cold but without any significant injuries. It turned out the second boat that came in rushing to help the man was Shawn Pomrenke. While this happened, the beach was filled with numerous spectators who witnessed the ordeal.
Ultimately, the barge owners lowered the spuds to bring the deck out of the water, hoping the storm would eventually die down. Unfortunately, despite Shawn and others’ good intentions in righting the overturned skiff, in the end, the sea was too unpredictable to carry out this mission without potential victims and damage.
Shawn Pomrenke Arrested
Considered one of the fan’s favorite cast members, Shawn gained popularity and infamy not only for his appearances in the popular show, but also for his checkered past. In 2012 he was involved in a bar fight, in which he was literally stabbed in the back, subsequently being hospitalized and spending several days at the hospital.
— tadeu baki (@tadeubaki) February 2, 2012
In 2013 Shawn was arrested in Nome, for driving under the influence (DUI), after reversing into a pedestrian, and fleeing the scene. He was booked on four counts, DUI, leaving the location of the accident, driving without insurance, and assault in the third degree. According to the document obtained by the media outlet TMZ, Shawn was leaving a parking lot, and accidentally hit a pedestrian, but left the scene “smiling and giving the thumbs up.”
The police officers arrested him not far from the scene, and Shawn admitted to having downed a couple of drinks, and not having driving insurance. He then took a breathalyzer test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.125, nearly twice the legal limit.
Shawn is filing for bankruptcy
In 2019, a media outlet reported that Shawn had business partners who alleged that Shawn failed to pay a bill owed to them, and consequently they decided to liquidate all of his assets, including his Christine Rose; subsequently, Shawn declared bankruptcy. However, a different media outlet revealed contradictory information, claiming that Shawn didn’t file for bankruptcy. As a result, Pomrenke Mining LLC, a separate legal entity with multiple owners, filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, and the company’s possessions were made subject to sale.
However, court documents revealed that the filing for bankruptcy was not legal, and wasn’t authorized by the actual owners of Pomkrenke Mining LLC. Allegedly, it was a ruse orchestrated by Jon Keith Beyer, who manipulated the board seats of the company in order to file for bankruptcy. However, Jon Keith claimed that Shawn failed to meet the agreement regarding income protection, and withdrew money from a bank account without having authorization, and as a result, Jon Keith expanded the company board to protect the interest of creditors. He also disclosed that in 2018, the company struggled to make a profit and a positive cash flow. On top of it all, there was a deal that the company was supposed to receive $3 to $5 million from an investor to finance the buildout of the new barge, “The Meg Dredge”, however, the deal allegedly never came to life.
Despite the contradictory information, in 2020, Shawn did confirm that his Mega Dredge and Christine Rose were liquidated, saying: “My Christine Rose is just sitting there. All I can do is look at it”. According to Shawn’s statements, the partners who promised to invest in his dream of building the Mega Dredge were bleeding the company dry, but he wasn’t going to leave it without a fight. Ultimately, Shawn fought the partners in court and emerged victorious; he could keep his precious dredges.
What is Shawn Pomrenke’s net worth?
Despite his numerous financial woes, Shawn has managed to accumulate wealth from his business. Shawn’s net worth is estimated at $5 million, which is not unusual given that he’s been in the industry for decades. In addition, Shawn has been a regular on the show since 2012, contributing to his net worth. According to reports, he makes $200,000 per season from the series, while his annual income is in the range of $450,000.
Does Shawn have a wife?
If you watched the show, you must know that Shawn has several children, namely Dylan, Christine and Emily. However, his wife or partner is rarely in the picture, which stirred quite a mess among fans who began wondering whether he was married, and about the mother of his children. Shawn engaged in a Reddit discussion, and disclosed that he wasn’t married. A fan asked him: ‘We see your son on the show, but I don’t recall seeing your wife. Are you still together, and did the pressure of gold mining cause a problem in your relationship’ to which he simply replied: ‘Nope, no wife ‘. According to other media outlets, Shawn was married to Jeannette, with whom he welcomed Dylan and Christine. Eventually they broke it off, and Shawn began dating a woman named Wendie Lou, who is believed to be Christine’s mother. In 2012, during the show’s first season, a woman named Jenny Shield appeared as Shawn’s fiancé, which contributed to the confusion. Shawn and Jenny welcomed a son named Luke but eventually called off the wedding.
As if things were not complicated enough, another woman, Monica Gomez, was often featured on Shawn’s social media, and it’s believed that he was romantically involved with Monica. However, Shawn has deleted most of the photos, and is rarely active on his Instagram or Facebook profile, so further updates aren’t available.
Is “Bering Sea Gold” scripted?
One of the most frequent questions about reality series is whether they are scripted and authentic, and “Bering Sea Gold” is no different. Given that the show came from the creators of the “Deadliest Catch,” which is considered to be a fair and realistic representation of crab hunting, many believe that “Bering Sea Gold” follows a similar, genuine format. In an interview, Emily Riedel, another regular cast member of the show, revealed that the camera crew was an inseparable part of the cast’s lives. The show’s producers allegedly don’t meddle with the events and happenings on the boat, and just observe the drama which is ever-present on cramped and tight ships loaded with people.
However, there are several indicators that producers are not as passive as one might think. Over the show’s course, “Bering Sea Gold” was criticized for exaggerating and overdramatizing certain events that were portrayed as highly dangerous, when in reality they weren’t. Arguably the most scrutinized event was the birth of Brad Kelly’s baby – in the episode, Brad was seen rushing to the hospital after his wife was admitted to give birth to their child. Fast forward – Brad was seen exiting the hospital, desperate and hysterical, disclosing that his girlfriend(!), Courtney, might not survive, as she was hemorrhaging and uncontrollably bleeding. The episode ended with that cliffhanger, and many fans believed she was in a dire and life-threatening situation. However, in the following episode, Courtney was seen happy and healthy, as she’d successfully given birth.
Another controversial moment on the show was the death of the scuba diver John Bunce. John committed suicide in his house, but the show’s producers edited the events and promotional videos, so making it appear that John died while scuba diving, and in an episode of the show.
Whatever the case may be, when watching these shows, one must take everything with a grain of salt! After all, these series are a mix of real-life events tailored to appease the masses, and attract new viewers. Even though it carries the term ‘reality series’, the events must be in some way influenced or organized, and of course edited to produce each episode.
If you’re a fan of Shawn Pomrenke, the chances are that you weren’t surprised by his heroic rescue. Despite his financial mishaps and run-ins with the law, when it comes to lending a hand to someone in trouble, the hard-working Shawn would be the one to help.