Alright all you armchair fishermen, we are now at the half-way point of the Deadliest Catch. We have now moved from the November Alaskan King crab season to the Opilio crab season in January on the Bering Sea. If we thought that Bering Sea was unforgiving in November, well hang on, you haven’t seen anything yet! Get ready for brutal cold, howling winds, enormous rolling waves, and ice…not just a little bit of ice, but lots of ice!!!
The Time Bandit, Northwestern (with an extra deckhand – greenhorn Jake Anderson), Cornelia Marie, Maverick, Farwest Leader, and the Wizard (former Navy fuel ship) are all in the game for 2007 season. Before the season begins, a ship is pick at random to go through a series of USCG drills on safety. Well, the Farwest Leader was the luck candidate this season. To provide a bit of insight, the USCG checks and conducts safety drills to evaluate if the boat and crew are prepared for the worst out at sea. The drills included on how to put out a fire, how get into their survival suits in under a minute, and a review all safety procedures. With the evaluations behind them, the Farwest Leader is now making steam to catch up with the rest of the fleet at sea.
250 NNW of Dutch Harbor, just east of St. Paul Island, the Northwestern is hauling up gear from a storage area in rough seas, the first real test of the greenhorn Jake Anderson. Captain Sig is discovering that the pots are not in the best of conditions due to the sea tossing the pots against the sea bed for the last few months and local sea lions using them as play toys. Before they can even launch any of the pots once they hit the crab grounds, they must do a bit of repairs to their gear. Not the perfect start of the Opilio season.
With the Wizard on station in the crab grounds, they starting to pulling up their first string of pots with successfull pots of crab. Nice way to open the season.
318 NNW of Dutch Harbor, Cornelia Marie is launching their first string of pots. Weather is now starting to become an adversary to the fleet. The race is on for the Cornelia Marie to get the pots off before ice builds up on ship in the rolling seas. A boat with a full stack of pots on board with ice build up increase the chances of the boat rolling over it the seas are too rough. So, through out the day and into the night, pot after pot is launched into the pitched black sea. To make matters worst, Captain Phil has learned that his crab processor had a fire in its engine room which has knocked her out of action. With the Stellar Sea being towed back to Dutch for repairs, this incident has now created a real pickle for Phil. Let me explain, Phil is contracted to offload to the Stellar Sea. So his options are quite limited. What to do? After exploring all of his options, Phil decided to sail over to St. Paul, anchor, and get out of the weather while repairs are under way on the Stellar Sea. It looks like these repairs could take several days, but it does allow the pots to soak a bit longer than normal. So the door could be open for more crab per pot. I guess another season of bad luck for the Cornelia Marie.
277 NW of Dutch Harbor is the Time Bandit, who is also affected by the fire on the Stellar Sea. So, the Hillstrand brothers decided to change their playbook – fish a different species of crab, Bairdi Tanner Crab (cousin of the Opilio crab). This switch will allow them to use a different processor and the most important thing, to make money – potentially of $56,000 per deckhand. The major drawback is that no one knows where the crab is and that crew is now exposed to tremendous weather and sea conditions. A receipt for disaster for an inexperience crew, but not the crew of the Time Bandit.
On Kodiak Island, the USCG received a rescue call from one of the boats in the crab fleet for a medevac of a crewman who is spitting up blood and unresponsive. The helo is launched and they are on their way faster than the winged God Apollo. Time is a difference between life or death out on the Bering Sea. In just over an hour, the helo is on-site to lower the basket for evacuation of the injured deckhand. The toughest part of the whole mission is that this rescue is being conducted at night while the crab boat is rolling with the seas. With these challenging conditions, the pilot has no room for error. With the injured deckhand on board, the rescue swimmer checks his vitals, secures the patient for the return flight back to dry land. Thanks to the skill and quick reaction of the USCG, the injured deckhand will survive. USCG 1, Bering Sea 0.
It looks like that weather will be the worst enemy for the fleet next week. Talk to you then.
Season 3 – Episode 7 crab totals
Wizard – 50,00 pounds
Cornelia Marie – 0 pounds
Northwestern – 0 pounds
Time Bandit – 0 pounds
Farwest Leader – 0 pounds