If there’s anything that we’ve all learned from The Deadliest Catch, it’s that crab fishing is way more exciting than it seems. With those massive crab fishing boats forcing their way through the churning waves of the Bering Sea while carrying tons of crab, it’s tough not to feel a sense of awe at the sheer power of those colossal vessels.
According to experts, a crab fishing boat will burn through tens of thousands of gallons of fuel in a single trip. But exactly how much fuel does a crab boat hold? The stunning numbers might be more than you initially thought.
Fuel Capacities for Popular Crab Boats
No two crab boats are the same. In fact, a lot of the boats used for crab fishing served a completely different purpose before they were reclaimed and restored for the purpose of catching crab. That said, you might find that fuel capacities between different boat models can vary widely.
Here are fuel capacities for the boats on Deadliest Catch to give you a better idea of how much their fuel holding capacity can change:
Notice how size and fuel capacity aren’t necessarily directly proportional. For instance, the Farwest Leader measures 110 feet, placing it in the middle of the size range, but only carries 18,000 gallons of fuel. This is a strikingly small number compared to the Western Viking that packs 26,000 gallons of fuel despite only measuring a measly 86 feet.
It really all boils down to the kind of machinery on board. While some of these boats might not require quite as much fuel to keep running, others use fuel-intensive machines that require more diesel to operate. It’s also worth considering the age of the vessels. Older boats tend to use more fuel compared to more fuel-efficient modern models.
What’s a Crab Boat’s Fuel Consumption Like?
Again, it’s different for every boat. That’s because these vessels don’t always pack the same kinds of engines, motors, and machines. Another thing that plays a role in fuel consumption are the conditions where the boat is taken. Strong waves and currents can force the engine to work harder, which means that the boat will have to use more fuel to push forward.
On average though, a boat can use roughly 30 to 40 gallons of fuel in an hour. In a day, a vessel can burn through 760 to 800 gallons of fuel. So the amount in the tank should last around a month if the crew manages their consumption and does what they can to lighten the load on the engine.
How Much Fuel Will a Crab Boat Use During Crab Season?
It’s tough to really pick out a number since boats can be so different. But the average fuel consumption for a crab boat during crab season is around 80,000 gallons. For boats with a fuel capacity of 20,000 gallons, that means heading back to the harbor at between four and five times throughout the season.
Boats like the Wizard or Trailblazer with fuel capacities of 50,000 gallons can stay out at sea for much longer without having to come back to top up. And since they’ll only need to head back once for fuel, they can spend more time at sea and stand a better chance of taking home a bigger catch.
To put things into perspective, statistics show that the average car will use around 656 gallons of gasoline in a year when it’s used everyday. So it’s easy to see that crab fishing boats use quite a lot of fuel in just a single season.
Keep in mind though that the trip from the destination to the harbor will itself burn several hundred gallons of fuel. So crab fishers have to account for the fuel needed for travel to make sure they can arrive safely at the harbor to refill their tank.
Where Do You Get Fuel for a Crab Boat?
The crab boat can get filled up with fuel at the harbor where it came from. On Deadliest Catch, most vessels head back to the Dutch Harbor at St. Paul to get refilled. But because they have massive fuel tanks that carry several tens of thousands of fuel at a time, they don’t use the standard gas pump.
These boats use an industrial sized fuel pump that delivers several hundreds of gallons of fuel per minute. This allows the boat to be fully refilled with fuel over a matter of a few hours, depending on the size of its tank.
Life on the Bering Sea
The Bering Sea is home to a strange interaction of currents, lots of ice, and unpredictable weather conditions, making it incredibly dangerous territory. So it comes as no surprise that the crab boats that travel through the area are also some of the most powerful you’ll find.
But exactly how much fuel does a crab boat hold? To put things into perspective, these boats use enough fuel in a single crab fishing season to keep your car going for the next 122 years. So before you start to complain about the price of King Crab, try to think about the immense effort and cost that goes into bringing that delicious crustacean from the sea to your plate.