How is a crab boat like a floating city?

Working on a Crab Boat: High Risk, High Reward

It's best you're buddies when the sea is against you.
It's best you're buddies when the sea is against you.
Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News/Getty Images

For all the danger associated with crab fishing, you'd think a position would be e­asy to come by. But it's not. Captains are particular about who they take on board. Once th­e season opens, the crew spends long hours together. There's no room for complainers who don't pull their own weight.

The money the fishermen earn is based on the number of crab that the fishermen haul in. But that's not all that goes into the work. The crew members also maintain the living quarters of the boat. Whether it's repairing an engine or fixing a dinner, if something needs to be done, any one of the crew must be ready and willing to take the reigns.

­Deckhands bring their own gear, an expense that can add up to $300 before they ever earn a penny. While the boat owner provides the safety equipment required by the Coast Guard, deckhands purchase their own wet weather gear, boots and sleeping bag. Some captains also charge the crew a percentage of the fuel, food and other operating expenses. The deckhands purchase their own fishing licenses.

Crab fishing is a lifestyle, not a job. The money is lucrative, but there are certainly easier and safer ways to make a living. The money that you make depends on the quota for your ship. Some ships can stay out for four to five months, and the deckhands may make $80,000. For another vessel that stays out for three-and-a-half months, they'll rake in $40,000 each.

"The money is definitely an incentive, but the personal satisfaction is huge," Corey Arnold, a crab fisherman, told HowStuffWorks. "Crab fishing is not something to grow old in. Crab fishing is an experience, a test of your capabilities. For me, I was interested in pushing myself to the limit; it makes you a stronger person."

To read more about crab fishing and other survival scenarios, click through the links below.

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More Great Links


  • "Dutch Harbor, Alaska Remains Top Fishing Port." Alaska July 17, 2008. (July 18, 2008)
  • "EPIRBs: You Bet Your Life." (July 16, 2008)
  • "Commercial Fishing Fatalities in Alaska." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 1997. (July 14, 2008)
  • "Crab Fisheries in Alaska." Alaska Division of Commercial Fisheries. (July 14, 2008)
  • "Fishing in Alaska Becoming Less Deadly." Associated Press. March 30, 2008. (July 30, 2008)
  • Interview with Corey Arnold ( on July 23, 2008. Corey has worked as a deckhand on crab boats in Alaska for the past six seasons.