Although the 2023 Alaskan King Crab season doesn’t formally open until October, many folks wonder about the typical Deadliest Catch boats size. And if you’re one of them, the quick answer is this: Deadliest Catch ships range from 58 to 166 feet.
But why does crab boat size matter? Or does it? Join us as we shed light on the dimensions of some of the world’s most daring crabbing vessels.
Table of Contents
- Deadliest Catch Vessel Sizes
- Why Boat Size Matters
- The Largest Size of Crab Boat on Deadliest Catch
- The Smallest Size of Crab Boat on Deadliest Catch
- Factors Affecting Boat Size
Deadliest Catch Vessel Sizes
Many fans of the Discovery Channel reality TV show ask, “How big are the boats on Deadliest Catch?”
Such queries are understandable. After all, these vessels must conquer building-high waves amid rolling seas and blistering winds to haul the biggest catch of the season.
Crab boats are a subset of fishing vessels with a different setup to accommodate crustaceans in steel cages. The boat length of a crabbing ship is between 39 and 246 feet, although boat sizes on Deadliest Catch range from 58 feet to 166 feet.
If we take the smallest and largest crab fishing vessels on the show and calculate their average, we will come up with 112 feet. However, if we add all the Deadliest Catch boat sizes to determine the Mean, our value will be 95 feet. In terms of the engine, diesel and 1000 HP seem to be common attributes.
Size comparisons of popular boats
Here’s a rundown of the most popular Deadliest Catch boats by size. We included only those crab boats still active on Deadliest Catch (on Season 19) and with film crew onboard.
|Vessel Name||Captain||Vessel Length|
|Wizard||Monte Colburn||156 feet|
|Aleutian Lady||Rick Shelfdord and Sean Dwyer||125 feet|
|Time Bandit||Andy and Jonathan Hillstrand||113 feet|
|Northwestern||Sig and Mandy Hansen||125 feet|
|Saga||Sophia Nielsen and Jake Anderson||109 feet|
|Summer Bay||Linda Greenlaw and Bill Wichrowski||105 feet|
|Barbara J||Steve Davidson and Jack Bunnell||95 feet|
You might wonder why many Deadliest Catch boats names aren’t on this list. We decided to cluster them into a different table. It’s worth noting that these vessels don’t have a Discovery Channel film crew onboard to document their activities and are no longer active on the reality show.
|Vessel Name||Captain||Vessel Length|
|Fierce Allegiance||Tony LaRussa||166 feet|
|Southern Wind||Steve Davidson||148 feet|
|Lady Alaska||Scott Campbell, Jr.||138 feet|
|Retriever||Jim Stone||133 feet|
|Billikin||Steve Davidson||132 feet|
|Cornelia Marie||Casey McManus and Josh Harris||125 feet|
|Kiska Sea||Mike Wilson||125 feet|
|Erla N||Bing Henkel||118 feet|
|Brenna A||Sean Dwyer||115 feet|
|Kodiak||Bill Wichrowski||111 feet|
|Farwest Leader||Greg Moncrief||110 feet|
|North American||Sten Skaar||110 feet|
|Seabrooke||Scott Campbel, Jr.||109 feet|
|Early Dawn||Rick Fehst||108 feet|
|Ramblin’ Rose||Elliott Neese||108 feet|
|Aleutian Ballad||Jerry Tilley||107 feet|
|Rollo||Eric Nyhammer||105 feet|
|Sea Star||Larry Hendricks||104 feet|
|Elinore J||Sean Dywer||103 feet|
|Cape Caution||Bill Wichrowski||100 feet|
|Destination||Jeff Hathaway||98 feet|
|Vixen||Shaun Miles||98 feet|
|Arctic Dawn||Ole Helgevold||97 feet|
|Big Valley||Gary Edwards||92 feet|
|Maverick||Blake Painter||92 feet|
|Incentive||Harry Lewis||88 feet|
|Western Viking||Coleman Anderson||86 feet|
|Lisa Marie||Wade Henley||78 feet|
|Western Venture||Paul Hancock||59 feet|
|Lucky Lady||Vince Shavender||58 feet|
Why Boat Size Matters
Although some might not agree with the notion that “bigger is better,” the world of crabbing is an exception. As a rule, the larger the crab boat, the safer it is for the crew. And if the skipper makes wise decisions, a bigger crab boat can also translate to improved efficiency.
More and better safety technologies for the crew
Crabbing in Alaska isn’t for the faint-hearted. Gale-force winds can stir the Bering Sea and toss crab boats around like paper dolls.
That’s why many Alaskan crab fishing vessels integrate different safety technologies and navigational aids. With these, skippers can determine their current location relative to the crab pots and other crabbers.
Unfortunately, these systems occupy space, and you can only cram a few into a small crab boat. On the other hand, a large crab vessel gives you sufficient space for such safety gear.
Efficiency is all about optimizing everything, including the volume of the catch. No skipper will want to spend thousands of dollars on fuel only to bring home a few crab pots.
Hence, the bigger the vessel, the more crab pots and gear the crew can take on every crabbing expedition.
More spacious live storage
It doesn’t matter if the boat has many pots for catching crabs. The vessel must also have a spacious holding tank to keep the crustaceans caught alive until they reach the market.
Small crab boats will often have a tiny holding tank for live crab. It can translate to less profit and impact overall efficiency.
More supplies and amenities for the crew
Crab boat crew need living spaces to rest, eat, sleep, defecate, urinate, and perform other activities of daily life, albeit onboard a fishing vessel.
Sadly, these activities require supplies and amenities, including food, toiletries, and water. Crabbers can only bring so much if they have a small boat. It can limit their time on the sea because they must return to port for provision.
The Largest Size of Crab Boat on Deadliest Catch
The 166-foot Fierce Allegiance is the largest crab boat on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. It’s a 45-year-old vessel with a deadweight tonnage of 650 tons and a draft of 11.5 feet.
Interestingly, the largest crab boat in the world (outside Deadliest Catch) is the Russian crabber, Azimut. This behemoth crab fishing vessel spans 241 feet long and hauls Snow and King crabs from the Bering Sea.
Forming the top three largest Deadliest Catch crab fishing boats are Wizard (156 feet) and Southern Wind (148 feet).
On a side note, please don’t think the Wizard sinks in the Bering Sea. Although a massive wave hit the ship in March 2021, the crabber remains seaworthy.
The Smallest Size of Crab Boat on Deadliest Catch
Lucky Lady is the smallest boat on Deadliest Catch at only 58 feet. The 43-year-old crab fishing vessel can go for 8.7 knots, allowing Skipper Vince Shavender to drop and retrieve crab pots with greater precision.
Western Venture and Lisa Marie round up the top three smallest crab boats on the show at 59 and 78 feet, respectively.
Factors Affecting Boat Size
Budget remains a critical factor in the size of boats on Deadliest Catch because it influences design considerations relative to crab fishing vessels.
- Crew size – Crab fishing vessels can have three to nine crewmembers or deckhands. The bigger the crab boat, the more crew it can accommodate. A large crew allows crabbers to do more work in less time, improving efficiency and crab haul.
- Number of crab pots and gear – Crab pots and other essentials (i.e., lines, hooks, lift mechanisms, and other systems) are necessary for a successful crabbing operation. These resources need or occupy space, dictating the crab boat’s size.
- Live catch holding tank requirements – Crabbers only operate seasonally. Hence, they want to maximize every expedition to bring home as many crabs as possible on each trip. It’s only possible if they have a large holding tank.
Notable Deadliest Catch Boats and Their Dimensions
Here are other noteworthy names of boats on Deadliest Catch with their respective dimensions.
- Northwestern – So, how big is the Northwestern on Deadliest Catch? The Sig Hansen-skippered vessel is 125 feet and is the show’s most popular crab fishing vessel.
- Cornelia Marie – This crabber is 128 feet long. It’s popular among Deadliest Catch fans because of the many job-related health risks, underscoring the vessel’s skipper changes through seasons.
Who owns the boats on Deadliest Catch?
Each Deadliest Catch boat has its vessel owner. For example, the Hansen family owns Northwestern, while Keith Colburn owns and skippers the Wizard.
Who has the biggest boat on Deadliest Catch?
The Edmonds, Washington-based Fierce Allegiance owns the Deadliest Catch’s biggest crab boat. Built in 1978 by Thoma Sea Shipbuilders in Lockport, Louisiana, the crab fishing vessel is 166 feet long, 36 feet wide, and has a gross tonnage of 618 tons.
Are bigger boats always better for crab fishing?
Yes, large crab boats are better than small ones. They have a more sizable crew, ensuring faster turnaround times (i.e. crab pot preparation, deployment, retrieval, and crab processing) for the fishing vessel.
These vessels also hold more crabs, reducing the frequency of returning to port to unload the cargo.
What are some other important factors to consider besides size?
Navigational aids and safety technologies are essential considerations for crab fishing vessels, especially those plying the Bering Sea and other treacherous waters. Other crucial attributes include fuel capacity, storage space, and live wells. Engine power is also necessary.
Deadliest Catch boats size ranges from 58 to 166 feet, with the average at about 95 feet. Although these vessels are relatively smaller than commercial fishing boats, they remain a formidable force in the Alaskan King crab-fertile waters of the Bering Sea.
As a rule, larger crab fishing vessels are more efficient. They could haul more live crabs in their spacious live wells and employ a sizable crew to ensure faster turnarounds or crabbing cycles.
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