One of the now famous Deadliest Catch Crabbing Vessels, the “Wizard”. Now owned by the Colburn family of Washington State is one of the largest ships on the Deadliest Catch TV show featured on the Discover Channel. This shot is taken as it is moored in August in Seattle, Wa.
History of the F/V Wizard
Built by the US Navy The Wizard is a 155’x30’ vessel commissioned to be built by the US Navy in 1945 in Brooklyn, NY by the Ira S. Bushey shipyard. Her original name is an International Marine Organization (IMO) number, YO-210. She is one of the few remaining YO-153 class vessels.
Purchased by John Jorgensen
After the war, she was laid up in mothballs in Boston harbor. Some of the Oiler fleet was used as target practice, or for building artificial reefs off the eastern seaboard in the last few decades. YO-210 was eventually purchased and made one trip unsuccessfully as the Clifford K hauling molasses before being purchased by John Jorgensen in 1978 to be converted to a fishing vessel to fish crab in the Bering Sea.
Renamed the Wizard after his grandfather’s Longliner, which was one of the premier cod and halibut boats in the Seattle fleet of the early and mid 20th Century. John’s father and grandfather were Norwegian immigrants in the pioneer days of the Alaskan commercial fishing industry, and John started working for them at a very young age. Left: John as a boy was onboard his fathers vessel the F/V Majestic
Right: The Wizard was named after John’s grandfather’s Longliner
Outfitted as a crabber Bender Shipyard in Louisiana converted the Wizard to a crabber in 1978, from where John and his family sailed her through the Panama Canal and on to Seattle where Marco Shipyard finished the conversion. She originally had 8 tanks for carrying oil cargo and a capacity of 240,000 gallons. During the conversion, two of the tanks were eliminated to increase the size of the engine room to hold added generators and a salt-water circulation system. Four of the original tanks are used for live holding tanks for crab, and the two forward tanks are used for dry storage and refrigerated seawater uniit The house and living quarters were increased, and a substantial amount of hydraulics for the two cranes and crab pot hauling equipment were added.
Fishing in the King Crab Heyday The F/V Wizard (Fishing Vessel is a Coast Guard registered vessel) began fishing crab in 1979 during what is now known as the “King Crab Heyday” of the late 1970’s. She targeted primarily Bairdi crab (tanner) and the fledgling opilio (snow) throughout the 1980’s. In the late 1980’s, when king crab had recovered and opilio quotas surged to phenomenal levels, the Wizard routinely was one of the top 10 crab producers in the Bering Sea in a fleet that at times would be as large as 270 vessels. Under John Jorgensen’s tutelage while still active as a captain, Keith and Monte Colburn learned the ropes of many of the aspects of becoming proficient crab captains. The Wizard loaded with crab pots, circa 1978 Working the stack Mike Rodgers “Bear” Keiths first deck boss onboard .
Wizard ranks in top 5 for King Crab allocations In 2005, when NOAA under the Dept of Commerce enacted the Crab Rationalization program, vessels of the Bering Sea were awarded IFQs (individual fishing quotas). The Wizard’s King and Opilio crab allocations were among the highest in the Bering Sea for an individual boat, ranking in the top 5 for Kings, and top 10 for Opilio, in a fleet in excess of 250 vessels.
The Vessel is sold to long-time Wizard Captain, Keith Colburn John Jorgensen and his partner Steve Soriano sold the vessel to Keith Colburn and his wife Florence in July of 2005. They maintain a close relationship with Keith harvesting John and Steve’s IFQ allocation, as well as that of a number of other IFQ crab holders, all by lease agreements. The Wizard is now working with another boat in the Alaska Crab Producers Cooperative.
The Wizard gets a new paint job under new ownership by the Colburns