For this effort I started the career on intermediate difficulty which encompasses the following: pots payload and ice buildup have a reduced effect, chances of breakdown are slightly reduced, crab schools move and deplete at a slower rate, chances of crew injury are reduced and crew morale and fatigue go down slower. Based on previous experience with this game, this is enough of a challenge.
The first thing I have to do is select a boat, in this case a used 99 footer called the Shellfish. It came with a horrible light baby blue and white paint scheme that had to go. I recolored the hull and trim in a green motif to signify the nickname I gave the vessel: “The Green Machine” (it’s going to be a money maker). The ship can handle 150 pots maximum and has a tank capacity of 170,000 lbs.
$$$ The Green Machine $$$
The crew selection panel included several top characters from the show, but I tried to avoid them (the Northwestern should have the Hansen’s, not me). I selected Kenny Hendricks, Tom Shimek, Burt Talcott, Stan Hansen (hey, he’s a cousin and not presently on their boat as far as I know) and Spike Perry. Kenny is the Deck Boss and during the season proved to be an absolute beast on the hook throws.
I start at Dutch Harbor dockside with a budget of $100,000 and keep the 100 pots I am initially allotted (no point in taking anymore), 14,000 gallons of fuel and 1,250 something or other of bait. These expenditures drop me to $89,648 in the bank on Tuesday 11/6 at 1:21 PM.
There is 20 hours to season start as I take the Shellfish out on its first King Crab season under my ownership.
While the bulk of the fleet heads north and east, I head south and west to a string of islands not far from Dutch Harbor and Akutan (I want to be close to the ports when the season ends).
The view from Google satellite: that shelf running deep off the opposite side where I will be fishing looks quite intimidating.
This is my strategy: knowing that any season never lasts more than 96 hours (I wish there was a way to edit some file to change this without breaking the game), I roll the dice and use the plotter to lay out a guideline of four 25 pot strings to empty my deck and get a 24 hour soak going on the first string so I can set them back if there is any success.
The season officially opens on Wednesday November 7 at 9:37 AM as broadcast by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The video above is the crew dropping a pot on my first string of the King Crab season.
Only 15 pots into the season, I already experience a mechanical failure when the crane blew a hose. This will be the first of many mechanical issues on the cruise.
Later on Stan Hansen injures a finger and has to leave for about four hours (thankfully this proved to be the most serious injury of the outing).
With my strategy of busting out all of the pots in one area, by the time I reach the first string it already has a 24 hour soak which gives me the opportunity to turn and burn by setting them right back if there is a sufficient number of keepers.
The first string of 25 pots (each pot launched and hauled back in represents five pots in the game) yields 263 keepers for an average of 52.6 crabs, with the high count being 58. In the middle of hauling this string the auxiliary engine blew a lube hose. I should have named this pig the “Blown Hose”.
String count: 48/50/57/50/58 (all pots were setback).
When I arrive at the second string, it has a 21 hour soak but I decide to haul it and reset it because that 96 hour clock is ticking (every freaking virtual minute in this game counts). This string yields 288 keepers for an average of 57.6 crabs, with the high count being 67.
String count: 54/55/58/54/67 (all pots were setback).
The third string continued the trend of being on the crab, yielding 355 keepers for an average of 71 crabs, with the high count being 76 (twice).
String count: 71/76/65/76/67 (all pots were setback).
The fourth and final string is Red Gold as well with 381 keepers for an average of 76.2 crabs, with the high count being 85.
String count: 66/73/85/82/75 (all pots were setback).
We started hauling the resets on Friday November 9 at 6:33 AM, 44:58 hours into the season. At this point the tanks were 24.8% full (I don’t think I have ever filled a boat in this game due to the painfully short seasons).
The first string that was reset does not disappoint, yielding 353 keepers for an average of 70.6 crabs, with the high count being 73. Knowing what is coming (I can feel it in my fishing bones), I order all pots stacked on the deck (if the season ends and I have a pot in the water, I am fined).
String count: 66/71/71/72/73
Wham! I knew it…the Department of Fish and Game announces the season will officially close in 24 hours. The announcement is made on Friday November 9 at 9:38 AM. I still have three strings (75 pots) in the water soaking that I have to crank back on board as fast as possible. Well blow me a hose…
And there I go, made my way just like at Burger King (not): a freaking blown hose before we start hauling on the second string that was reset.
The pots have been coming up great even with what I consider a short soak of 24 hours based on watching the show, which is the full sum of my knowledge on the Bering Sea and crab fishing in general. The second string comes through with a yield of 348 keepers for an average of 69.6 crabs, with the high count being 76.
String count: 76/71/68/65/68
On the third string we blew another hose (like clockwork) but still had a great haul of 384 keepers for an average of 76.8 crabs, with the high count being 81. Sick of seeing Kenny’s mug in these screen shots, here is a pretty picture of the Shellfish approaching the string array.
String count: 77/73/81/77/76
Another day at the office…the Money Office!!
Hauling the cash under moonlight...
Shut up and fish…damn you people…
Although this old fart was an absolute beast on the hook (and will return next season), he pulled up lame with a back injury with only one pot left to pull for the season.
The last pot of the season and Kenny is down for the count. The string was valuable like all the others, yielding 375 keepers for an average of 75 crabs, with the high count being 79.
String count: 68/77/79/73/78
With eight hours left in the season, I set a course for Dutch Harbor to offload and refit the boat. I am happy with the performance of the crew (only two injuries and none serious), but the boat has some serious mechanical issues I am sure I am going to be paying for at seasons end.
First into the harbor of the official game group (note the red white and blue icons to the north), although I have to wait in line as there is some unknown phantom ship not identified already at the processor offloading. Second in line is a good thing as I should be able to avoid significant dead loss.
The tally is in and in my first season in a long time I come through clean with no severe crew injuries or fines from the Coast Guard. I have no idea how the Northwestern has their bar (whatever that means) full as I did everything I could to drop pots and pull them within the three days the fleet had to fish.
The Green Machine brings home $293,257 in profits, with the crew earning a share of $103,036 off of $396,294 in total earnings.
Now comes the pain train…