Crab Boat Speed: How Fast Does a Crab Fishing Boat Go?

crab boat speed

Watching those giant waves assail crab boats on Deadliest Catch might be the highlight of the drama. But with gargantuan waves crashing against a crab boat, how fast can those things possibly move? On camera, it definitely seems like the boats on the hit TV drama go no faster than a snail’s pace. But exactly how fast does a crab fishing boat go? We’re answering all your questions on crab boat speed.

What’s the Average Speed of a Crab Boat?

For the sake of reference, it’s worth mentioning that speed on water is measured in knots per hour. That’s just nautical jargon for nautical mile per hour. The term knot was coined some time in the 17th century, when sailors would measure the speed of their boat using a tool called a common log which was basically a rope with knots.

On average, a crab boat will travel around 9.2 knots per hour. Converted to statute miles per hour, that would be roughly 10.58 mph. However there are boats that can go much faster or slower than that, depending on a range of factors inherent to the boat itself.

Examples of Crab Boat Speeds

Now, if you’re really that curious and you’re looking to get some precise numbers of the speeds of the boats on Deadliest Catch, here’s a quick breakdown of how fast some of the most popular boats on the show can go:




Lisa Marie


8.1 knots (9 mph/ 15km per hour)

Western Viking


12.6 knots (14 mph/ 23km per hour)



9.2 knots (11 mph/ 17km per hour)



7.8 knots (9 mph/ 14km per hour)



7.7 knots (9 mph/ 14km per hour)

Summer Bay


8.6 knots (10 mph/ 16km per hour)

Aleutian Ballad


8.2 knots (9 mph/ 15km per hour)

Early Dawn


10.6 knots (12 mph/ 20km per hour)



13 knots (15 mph/ 24km per hour)

Ramblin' Rose


6.7 knots (8 mph/ 12km per hour)



8.8 knots (10 mph/ 16km per hour)

Farwest Leader


8.9 knots (10 mph/ 16km per hour)

Time Bandit


9 knots (10 mph/ 17km per hour)

Cornelia Marie


14.5 knots (17 mph/ 27km per hour)

FV Northwestern


12 knots (14 mph/ 22km per hour)

Kiska Sea


7.5 knots (9 mph/ 14km per hour)



10.7 knots (12 mph/ 20km per hour)



8.2 knots (9 mph/ 15km per hour)

Southern Wind


9.7 knots (11 mph/ 18km per hour)



9.5 knots (11 mph/ 18km per hour)

Fierce Allegiance


10.7 knots (12 mph/ 20km per hour)

You’ll notice here that there’s no trend when it comes to the sizes of the boats versus their speeds. Based on records, the Ramblin’ Rose has to be the slowest of them all at just 6.7 knots per hour. And at a length of 125-feet, the Cornelia Marie tops the speed charts with an average speed of 14.5 knots per hour.

Factors That Affect Speed

So what exactly affects the speed of a crab boat? Obviously, size doesn’t seem to matter considering the numbers above. But it’s really more about the relationship between power and size that makes the difference.

A boat that’s too big for its engine might struggle to hustle forward despite being small in size. So boats that pack a bigger, stronger engine are more likely to propel forward faster.

There’s also the issue of streamlining. Older boat models use a boxy structure that allows greater surface area. While this definitely makes them much stronger against the waves, that also means there’s more boat for water and wind to slam against, producing more resistance.

And then finally, there’s the weight of the boat. Interestingly, most boats travel faster when they’re on their way to their destination. But when the boat is packed with crab, they’re more likely to drag along as they carry the extra weight back to the dock.

How Much Do Crab Boats Cost?

If you’re looking to join the crab fishing business after having been inspired by the guys on Deadliest Catch, it’s important that you know that crab boats aren’t cheap. Smaller boats can cost between $80,000 and $160,000. But it’s not unheard of for a crab boat to cost as much as $5,000,000 depending on size, facilities, and power.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

So the average crab boat speed might not be too wild. But when you consider the harsh conditions they sail in, slow and steady definitely wins. These guys operate boats in some of the most dangerous waters. So going a little slower can help them navigate the waves and steer clear of hazards while they protect their prized catch.

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