Starting the first opie season of my career (the second season overall) brings me to the Maintenance and Upgrades menu for the first time. This will be a feature between seasons from this point forward and represents the largest expenditures a boat captain/owner will experience during a career. In this section many items can be selected which directly affect the game play.
For example, there is a necessary repairs submenu in the bottom right (this represents items that were broken and not repaired during the previous season). Other options include equipment refitting and upgrades, as well as a number of crew amenities which theoretically should impact each crew member’s morale rating; however I have no evidence that this is the case.
There is rounding that occurs in the game financial calculations that should be taken into account when the numbers visually seem a little bit off. For example, I had a balance forward of $382,905 and the total sum of repairs, upgrades and additions selected was $289,200, but the game put my balance at $93,703 (off $2.00). This is not MS Excel Simulator 2013…
The costs are staggering and add up fast: crane $24,100, hydraulics $22,000, deck equipment $25,000 electrical $5,000, structural $70,000, pumps $5,000, main engine $50,000 and auxiliary engine $20,100. This $221,200 in refitting costs is just to get the boat into operational status: all of the options could have been increased to new purchase status which would have broken the bank.
If these costs are even remotely representative of what those owners must face each year, no wonder each season on the show is pretty much “make or break” for them. In addition to the equipment expenses, I tack on the following: high grade survival suits $20,000, flares and streamers $10,000, high grade life raft $25,000, extra fire extinguishers $10,000 and a TV for $3,000. This puts me at $68,000 on top of the $221,200 already spent for a total outlay of $289,200, quite a staggering sum.
The season is slated to kick off on January 3rd with an estimated crab population of 12,900,000 opies. The fleet quota is 1,150,000 lbs and the weather forecast is calm. I start at Dutch Harbor with the crew that went king crabbing with me, Kenny, Tom, Burt, Stan and Spike. At this point I have $93,703 in the bank and I take on 10,600 gallons of fuel and 750 something or other of bait for a total cost of $26,190. This drops me down to $67,511 (off by $2 rounding again) as I depart Dutch on a gorgeous afternoon.
A view from inside the wheel house at the captain’s chair: the monitor on the far left is the deck camera, the middle one is the plotter and the radar unit sits to the far right of the image.
The crab survey taken by Fish and Game reveals two major veins of potential biomass reasonably close to one another, so I use the plotter device to map out two 40-pot strings (I will actually dump 50 pots each string, the plotter tool only allows for 40 to be drawn out in any single line).
Fish and Game announce the official opening of the season at 9:36 AM on Saturday January 5th. Exactly one minute after that we lose power and have to sit idle for another two hours or so while it is repaired. As I suspect it is in real life, these pigs are severe money pits.
The grind fully underway: almost mirror glass flat seas and happy birds flying by the deck camera.
Dropping pots and taking names…
I arrive at the head of my first string of 50 pots with a 24 hour soak on the first group of five. The blue ship to the southern edge of the string is the Cornelia Marie. Phil Harris would stalk me this entire opie season and drop his gear in the same general area.
The first string of 50 pots (each pot visually launched and hauled back in represents five pots in the game) yields a staggering 5,798 keepers for an average of 580 crabs per pot, with the high count being 692. Phil Harris is lurking out there on the horizon.
String count: 466/485/542/509/567/606/627/660/692/644 (all pots were setback).
At this point my tanks are 25.9% full.
35 hours into the season I put the crew to rest and chart a course for the head of the second 50-pot string which already has a 24 hour soak on the first grouping.
Twenty pots into the second string, my Deck Boss and the most seasoned veteran in the fleet up and quits, at sea (I guess he forgot to bring his Depends). In all the fishing I have done in this game over the years, I have never had a vet walk off the boat while underway.
This loss puts Tom in charge of the deck, and increases the workload on the crew. I really like how the game models this and task now take longer as the topside choreography has to adjust to the missing sailor.
The second string of 50 pots continued the trend of being on the crab, yielding 6,911 keepers for an average of 691 crabs per pot, with the high count being 744.
String count: 673/668/715/693/620/718/698/744/670/712 (all pots were setback).
At this point my tanks are 57% full (the season is looking stellar less the Kenny incident).
When I arrive at the head of my first string (reset), it has a 23 hour soak going. The Cornelia Marie is still out there buzzing around.
Shut up and fish (you can sleep when you die)…
I do park it after 25 pots are hauled and stacked (the fishing has dropped off and the crew will become injured and miss work if I let their energy level (the red bar) drop too low.
The boat takes several rolls and puts some of the crew down on the deck. Thankfully this was not an injury that required medical attention.
The second go around on the reset first string of 50 points was definitely less than stellar, although the numbers did pick up toward the end of the string. The crew issued several verbal complaints about not setting back and having to stack, which went ignored.
The yield was 4,426 keepers for an average of 443 crabs per pot, with the high count being 701.
String count: 285/277/302/325/393/458/424/598/701/663 (all pots were stacked).
At this point my tanks are 76.2% full (I have never stuffed a crab boat before that I recall so this is a milestone gaming moment for me).
The last pot was hauled aboard at 1:00 AM and while sorting, Burt (cheap to hire but always gets injured somehow) goes down on the deck and suffers a serious head trauma. I radio the Coast Guard for an evacuation while Tom tends to Burt.
The Dolphin rescue helicopter loads the injured crewman and departs the Shellfish at 3:28 AM. With only three willing participants left on board (remember the original Deck Boss Kenny quit), I have to be extra careful to monitor crew fatigue. If one more fisherman goes out of action, all fishing stops.
The final pull of the last string of 50 pots yields 7,736 keepers for an average of 774 crabs per pot, with the high count being 840.
String count: 817/748/677/734/788/814/840/760/770/788 (all pots were stacked).
At this point my tanks are 100% full and the excess crab has to be dumped overboard.
During the sorting of the remaining crab and subsequent jettison of the lucky ones due to the tank being full, Stan injures his back and requires three hours rest. This leaves only Spike (the Bait Boy) on the deck and no work can continue.
I still have to pick up my remaining pots however and stack them to avoid fines for fishing out of season or for picking up stored pots (if I left them behind).
Dutch Harbor is the closest and only has one ship in the wait line at the processor, so I head on into town to offload my haul.
The Money Pit: once in Dutch, I am informed that I have to fork over $600 for a broken electrical panel. Hopefully while we are offloading the bounty, the ship does not sink at the pier.
The Department of Fish and Game announces the official closure of the season on Wednesday January 9th at 3:42 PM while I am offloading. The $1.50 a pound price point sucks, but I have no control over that part of the game.
The tally is in and The Green Machine brings home $191,983 in profits, with the crew earning a share of $67,453 off of $259,437 in total earnings.
It was an ugly season with a seasoned vet taking a walk, a severe injury to a perennial bandage case of a green horn and some rather costly offseason repairs to suffer an electrical panel short immediately at the season start.
I am sure that it is seasons like this (in real life) that drive some skippers into early retirement.