The 2008 King crab fleet faces huge stakes - before boats even cast off. Skippers Keith and Phil could be sidelined by life threatening illnesses and all the boats are in debt from summer repairs. A skipper is pressured to take a potentially fatal risk.
It's week 2 of the season, and boats are hunting down the elusive King crab. A vicious storm kicks up and a Mayday goes out. The Skippers are glued to their radios - waiting to hear the fate of 11 brother fishermen in distress on another boat.
The fleet is still dialing into the crab, and already a typhoon has taken its toll. A boat has sunk -- and bone-chilling accounts of the fate of its men relay around the fleet. As soon as the weather clears, the skippers of the Time Bandit, Cornelia Marie, Wizard and Northwestern send their men right back to fishing. On a crab boat, there's no time to dwell on tragedy. Hauling and setting pots is treacherous work and if the crews don't stay focused on their work, they could die.
It's week four of king crab season. Seven souls have perished, but the fishermen soldier on in the hunt for crab. Gruelling hours and vicious hazing test the Greenhorns, and some start to crack. On the Wizard, the rookie fights to maintain dignity as the deckboss shreds him to the core. On the Northwestern, Jake Anderson gets a shot at running the hydro, and learns that operating them puts the lives of the crew in his hands. The 78-ft Lisa Marie also arrives with something to prove. The smallest boat in the fleet has a young crew with some mighty big mouths. For all of these newcomers, it¹s time to put up... or shut up.
Crab pots continue to come up empty and the skippers are out of ideas. Low bait and long grinds take our crews to dark places -- the smallest infractions from a Greenhorn or fellow deckhand cause tempers and even violence to flare. Aboard the Cornelia Marie the brothers Harris have a war of words, while on the Lisa Marie two brothers resort to a smack down. On the Wizard, low bait forces Keith to turn his back on his brother and reach out to an old enemy: Sig Hansen. While the rest of the fleet fight it out amongst themselves, it¹s a wild, swinging pot that could do fatal damage on the Time Bandit.
A new deadline is set: an upcoming drop in the price of king crab has the skippers rushing to finish their season. But crew battles and a fierce arctic storm block the way. The Wizard and the Time Bandit survive savage weather to haul in gold, while on the Cornelia Marie, relief skipper Murray proves that not everyone is cut out to find the crab. On the Northwestern, greenhorn Jake rages at his mentor, Edgar, and on the tiny Lisa Marie, poor crab and bullying drive a deckhand to the brink.
The king crab season is down to the wire and skippers are desperate to top off their quotas. It's looking bleak as crews pick through bone-yards of fished out grounds. Some boats dig deep for an end of season sprint, while other boats only scrape by. On the Northwestern, skipper Sig is forced to radio fish in the 11th hour. On the Cornelia Marie, skipper Murray tries to maintain control as simmering crew frustrations boil over. The Time Bandit has already ended their season, but they're contenders to claim the captains' wager. In the end, some men will glory in big pay offs -- while others will be glad just to have survived.
The 2008 King crab season is over with and It's the start of the 2009 Opilio Crab Season. Anything the Bering Sea held back during King Season is now being paid out in spades. The skippers have their eyes on the oncoming ice pack - but it's a lethal, 40-foot rogue wave that's on the hunt.
The fleet arrives on the Opi Grounds and boats struggle with ice, big seas, and bad information to hunt down the crab. A skipper regrets sending his men out in savage weather to save the boat - but there are no second chances on the Bering Sea. On the Time Bandit, old family grounds are barren and Skipper Andy risks moving his pots North, next to the ice. On the NorthwesternSkipper Sig hits big crab and big seas. On the Cornelia Marie the major battles are between crew members. And on the Incentive, a new boat to the show, anger and frustration also reigns. It's a brutal start to a brutal Opilio Season.
It's week three of the Opilio Crab Season. Long hours and miserable conditions already have the crabbers turning on each other. Boat-crushing ice stands between one skipper and the safety of harbor.
After weeks battling the brutal freezing spray, forty foot waves, and sub-zero temperatures, skippers have begun plugging their boats with Opilio crab. As they race to St. Paul harbor for offload, they face the 250,000 square mile arctic ice pack stands in their way and their paid day.Long hours and inhuman conditions already have the crabbers turning on each other. One skipper needs to deliver his crab but boat-crushing ice stands between his vessel and the safety of harbor. On the Northwestern, the bitter temperatures have the Jr. Deckhand showing signs of strain. While on the Wizard, Skipper Keith is still reeling from the after-affects of a monster wave that banged up his crew. On the Time Bandit the crab is crawling on board, but one old Deckhand wants to crawl off. A sea of misery surrounds the fleet - and the season isn't even half over.
Late into the season, each skipper faces his own personal brand of hell. Frozen crab, frozen gear, and a frozen harbor chill the hearts of even the most callous fishermen. On the Cornelia Marie, Skipper Phil gambles on the theory that air bubbles on the water means crabs are farting down below. On the Time Bandit, Captain Andy enters St. Paul harbor-now frozen enough to walk across. Five pack-a-day smoker Sig Hansen tries his hand at quitting the habit. When a huge storm kicks up he takes his stress out on his crew. Aboard the Wizard, Captain Keith demands an answer from his greenhorn: "Are you in or out?" It's a season where very crab has been paid for in headaches-but the rising seas and oncoming ice-pack could make things worse.
When the fleet gets word of great fishing by the ice pack, the chase is on to the ends of the earth! Two egos collide, when Keith and Phil fight over fishing turf. Sick of hauling mangled, barnacle-ridden crab down south, Captain Harry on the Incentive faces his fears and climbs north to frozen waters. While aboard the Northwestern, Sig pushes his crew and himself to the edge of insanity with a sleepless, 38 hour grind. Hellacious hours and missing pots-a journey to the far north will push these men over the edge.
Weeks into the Opilio Season, the fleet is bone tired and desperate for home. As delirium sets in aboard the Cornelia Marie, deadly, rib-crunching mistakes are made. After weeks of relentless hazing the Wizard's greenhorn gets news from home that could send him packing. On the Northwestern, Jake receives word of a death in the family. These young men will learn that when an ocean lies between a fisherman and his family, tragedy at home spells gut-wrenching, heartbreak at sea.
For two decades the Alaskan crab fleet has been haunted by the legendary "Black Sunday" storm-a day with seas so fierce that many maydays hailed over the radio. Now, history repeats itself! A massive arctic storm slams the crab fleet. Captain Harry on the Incentive recounts the barrage of waves from Black Sunday and watches the same lethal conditions pound his boat. On the Cornelia Marie, Captain Phil relives the day when he feared he would not return to his family. Now, the Coast Guard must race to save a boat splintering against jagged rocks-before the next mayday pulls them away. With most of the Coast Guard assets deployed, the Skippers are forced to fend for themselves.
It's the final 24 hours of the 2009 Opilio crab season. A savage arctic storm causes multiple vessels to send out maydays. The Coast Guard is in a race against the clock to save four men before their boat is pounded into splinters against jagged rocks.