Original air date: April 22, 2014
The episode starts with Captain Keith Colburn doing a voice-over of Wizard footage from the upcoming season: “The younger guys comin’ up, I don’t think they respect the fishery. You know what’s different? It’s called ‘entitlement’.” Switching to footage of four offspring of Alaska crabbers: Saga – Captain Elliott Neese says “This job is for the elite. The rest of these guys can go to pasture.” Northwestern – 18-year-old Mandy Hansen, daughter of Captain Sig and niece of Edgar and Norman says “I’m doing it. At some point I have to. It’s in my blood.” Cornelia Marie – Captain Josh Harris says “I’m just doing what I know to do, instead of what other people tell me I should be doing.” Seabrooke – Captain Scott Campbell Jr. says “If you can’t tow your weight, it’s time for you to go.” Over footage of the Hillstrands on the Time Bandit and Wizard and Northwestern decks, Keith says, “You want to be top dog?”, before switching to him sitting in the Wizard wheelhouse saying “Be careful what you wish for.” More season preview footage before the opening credits roll.
As October rolls around, 2013 King Crab season boat preparations go off without a hitch, except for something no one foresaw: a Federal government shutdown which closed the office that issues permits/quotas for the fishery. Jake Anderson returns to the Northwestern after being mistreated on the Kiska Sea (during 2013 Opilio season).
The Hillstrands and Hansens conspire on an epic double-double-cross prank involving deckhand Nick “Sunshine” Tokeman, who left the Northwestern upon Jake’s return to fill the gap in the Time Bandit crew created by Josh Harris’ return to the Cornelia Marie as her Captain.
Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski on the Cape Caution takes on an ex-Marine greenhorn with Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishing experience. Junior aggravates his back injury changing a deck light bulb on the Seabrooke.
A capless and bald Captain Keith is in Washington, D.C. to testify before the Senate Commerce committee while Monte preps the Wizard, with, miraculously, no new greenhorns to break in. The fleet’s Captains and some deckhands watch the C-SPAN 3 broadcast testimony in the local bar.
After 3 years of fishing blue king crab, Captain Elliott preps for his first season on the red king crab grounds. As the shutdown continues, Junior and Keith patch up differences at the local bar. “Sunshine” is caught in a net as the “Operation Moonbeam” prank is executed.
The shutdown ends, and the fleet scrambles to get quotas, fuel, and hit the sea. In many ways, the season will have the feel of the old derby system, to get to the crab first, catch as many as you can, and deliver them in time for the early November holiday season deadlines.
The Cape Caution suddenly loses its starter when “Wild” Bill doesn’t engage in the voodoo protection ritual brought on deck by the new greenhorn, and is the last to get out of Dutch Harbor. Bill completes the ritual and the quarter is tossed off-deck.
The first hour wraps up as the Time Bandit, while setting pots, is boarded by a small boat crew from USCG cutter Waesche for a spot safety gear inspection, despite a complete boat inspection prior to departure.
Hour 2 starts with Seabrooke finishing their initial string set. Junior’s back injury hurts so much, he pulls the unusual for him M.O. of soaking his pots without spot checks
Wizard pulls their first pots after Keith engages in deckhand Freddy’s cod blood ritual for good luck.
Northwestern pulls their first pots. Marine radio notifies the fleet than an automated EPIRB distress beacon has been received 60 nautical miles west of Adak, registered to the fishing vessel Western Venture. Sig says “I’m pretty sure I know him. He’s a little guy, he’s only 59-foot. Not good!” USCG dispatches helicopter 6005 and a C-130 for search-and-rescue operations. The C-130 arrives first, and verifies the boat is on fire, as well as verifying that the five-man crew is on board the life raft floating near-by. The rescue copter is a half-hour out, but the “good Samaritan” crab-fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty is closer, and they rescue the crew from the life raft.
Junior is in so much pain, he has his relief captain Brad Petefish begin pulling pots. Brad lets Junior know they’re seeing crab, and he returns mid-string, much better but still in pain.
Cape Caution finally arrives on the grounds and sets pots. On the Saga, Elliott’s first red king crab prospect string is a winner, and he sets the remainder of his pots there.
The weather radio broadcast forecasts 50-knot winds and 30-foot seas, further complicating the already short season. As the fleet powers through the storm, on the Cape Caution, the greenhorn is falling behind and “Wild” Bill diagnoses he hasn’t been eating enough.