So far this Opilio season has had its fair share of obstacles for the crab fleet – fire on one of the crab processor boats, major winter gale, family stripe, sea lions, and pure bad luck. Can the fortunes turn around for the fleet and get the crab train back on track?
Our story opens up with the old sea dog Capt Sig of the Northwestern 347 miles Northwest of Dutch Harbor trying to turn their previous misfortunes into a bit of good luck. Sig is now fishing in unfamiliar waters hoping that it will be raining crab before long. Boy does this boat need a bit of good old fashion Irish luck. If there was a Blarney Stone to be kissed, Sig would have done so by now. Instead, Edgar introduces the newest member of the crew greenhorn Jake to one of the boats old traditions – biting the head off piece of Herring bait and swallowing it. Like every good fisherman, Jake was truly up to the task. Editors note – you could not get me drunk enough to do that stunt even in my wildest college days! To increase the chances of bigger numbers of crabs in the pots, the Northwestern is loading up on bait in each pot. Roughly 30 pounds of bait (Herring and Cod) per pot.
A mere 66 miles to the Southwest of the Northwestern the Cornelia Marie is on the edge of a squall at night battling a fierce sea. As wave after wave crashes the side of the boat, tensions rise as Captain Phil and his crew try desperately to set a string of new pots. Danger is lurking around each crashing wave, one bad decision by the Captain or crew and someone will become a permanent member of Dave Jones locker. Think of Bush Garden’s riede Roman Rapids but 100 times worse that is what is like when the waves coming crashing on deck while the hands load the launcher with the next pot.
Just 320 miles Northwest of Dutch Harbor the Time Bandit is fishing a little Cod in order to replenish their bait supply while being hammered by the same squall the Cornelia Marie is experiencing. The Time Bandit is not faring any better in this fight against Mother Nature. The pots are refitted with orange teeth for fishing with cod. The idea is fresh bait may help lure more crab into their next line of pots. Laying pots at night in a squall is no easy task for the crew and the captain due to limited visibility in seeing approaching waves. As the seas turn up a notch of violence, Captain Andy make a wise decision to pull the crew from the deck for safety. Safety is always the underlining theme on all these boats.
Back to the Northwestern, they are now ready to put down their first string of pots in this new fishing ground for Sig. Can Greenhorn Jake meet the task? Time will tell… After 30 hours of a good soak the first pot in this new fishing hole is ready to be pulled up. To everyone one delectation, the pot is bursting with that red gold called Alaskan Snow crab aka Opilo crab. The additional pots that being pulled are also showering the boat with voluminous crab. With spread of good fortunes impregnating the crew, Jake decides it is time to “punk” one of the veteran crew members. If you haven’t guessed already, it is not wise for a greenhorn to “punk” any of the crew on his maiden voyage. Well, Jake’s not the sharpest tack in the toolbox…trust me on that. Remember he ate the head of a raw Herring! Jake’s idea of a trick is put a snap on the back of Edgar’sheel. Of all people not to “punk” — beside Sig, it’s Edgar. Well Jake is now learning the hard way not to make the same move twice. The war is now on!
At dock in Dutch Harbor the Wizard is just completing repairs to the crane that was knocked out by the storm just a few days earlier. Before the can shove off, Captain Keith is summoned home for unexpectantly to deal with some family business. In his absence, his brother Monty is the new captain. With a word of wisdom — “don’t let the crew drive the boat” — the keys are then passed to the new captain. Keith is not the only one departing for the mainland, so is Greenhorn Nick. Nick’s departure is due to an injury, a disappointing way to end your maiden voyage. To find a replacement, Monty hits the Unisea Inn & Bar — Dutch Harbor’s unofficial unemployment office. Monty found his new recruit Greenhorn Guy, a former rodeo rider. Hopefully he can pick up the ropes rather quickly.
After full day of steam, the Wizard is back on the fishing grounds. Can Guy meet the challenge? On-the-job training is a must. Before long the first string of pots are lunched and with a bit of lady luck on their side, the pots will come up full.
On the Farwest Leader, John a former Salmon fisherman is battling as a Greenhorn crab fisherman to make an impression on the crew and captain. Manning on the rail will test his skill and determination to be a part of the crew. After a day of throws and working the block, John started to get the hang of it. However Chilly (deckboss) sees no hope, but the Captain sees it differently. Time will only tell.
Back on board the Time Bandit, the crew is pulling up one its last test pots to determine if the current location is the place to drop a full string of pots. Jackpot!!!! The pot is full of crab! Moral is now on the mend. It is amazing what a few full pots can do to lift the spirits of the whole crew. Now time to drop a full string of pots. Out of nowwhere, a wave pushes the Time Bandit over the line to one of the pots. As the starboard prop (wheel) turned, the line from the pot has is wrapping around prop which is causeing the engine to heat up and seize. Shutting down the engine to the starboard prob is the only option now or lose the whole engine. This not good…not good at all! The crew must cut the pot free in order to keep the port prop from getting tangled up. With only one prop working in rough seas, Captain Andy has no choice but to stop fishing. The Timebandit is turning around and limping back to port of repairs. Another victim of bad luck this crab season.
What will next week adventures bring these harden fisherman? Tune in next week to find out on the Deadliest Catch. See you then!
Season 3 – Episode 9 crab totals
Wizard – 389,000 pounds
Cornelia Marie – 351,000 pounds
Northwestern – 260,000 pounds
Farwest Leader – 90,000 pounds
Time Bandit – 50,000 pounds