The F/V Aleutian Ballad bids farewell to commerical Fishing

In Deadliest Catch season 2, we were first introduced to the F/V Aleutian Ballad and her crew, and according to the Discovery channel, the AB (as we diehard fans like to call her) was to be a featured fishing vessel on the show in the following season. It didnt happen. According to Jeff Conroy, executive producer, the film footage just wasn’t there to air. So was that the case or could it have been because the AB was known to be making her last tour of the Bering Sea? It is somewaht ironic then, that one of the most memorable and dramatic scenes of the entire series–the rogue wave footage–was filmed on the most popular Deadliest Catch fishing vessel that was never featured on the show…

Fair winds and following seas are wished for the AB as she joins the ranks of the Sea Star in providing a “different” type of service for fans of Deadliest Catch and others. Laine Welch aptly describes the career-evolution of the F/V Aleutian Ballard in her weekly column, Fish Factor.

“Crab boat to show boat

The crab boat Aleutian Ballad was famous as one of the ‘Deadliest Catch’ fleet. But when it was capsized two years ago by a 60 foot rogue wave, the Ballad said goodbye to the Bering Sea.

.

Ketchikan-based Aleutian Ballard
Photo courtesy Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tours

The 107 foot boat is now starring in a different role – thrilling visitors with sea-going reality tours in calmer waters near Ketchikan, Alaska. The new venture is the vision of Aleutian Ballad owner Dave Lethin, a Bering Sea crab veteran who conceived the tour idea ten years ago.

I wanted to share the lifestyle and the allure that draws fishermen to the sea,” he said.

Lethin has condensed a day in the fishing life to a four hour tour. From the heated comfort of sheltered observation areas, up to 150 guests can watch the Aleutian Ballad’s seasoned crew launch and retrieve 700 pound pots full of crab and other sea creatures.

Tanner Crabs and Captain David of the Aleutian Ballard
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Photographer Chris Wilhelm wrote, “Little did I know how much of each species and what size they would find in the protective waters of the Annette Island Indian Reserve. I was shocked and astonished. In a little over 3 hours we drove there and back and hauled in King Crab, Tanner crab, prawns, a longline with rockfish, a wolf eel, two octopus, and the biggest Dungeness crabs I’ve ever seen, over 5 pounds.” He said photos can not reflect the extent of the fun and surprises

We pulled a pot and a 40 pound octopus was hanging on the outside. It rolled onto the deck and it took three of us to pry it off and put it into the live tank. They all were saying ‘wow, this is the real thing!’” Lethin said.

The Aleutian Ballad is able to drop crab pots and other gears thanks to an exclusive licensing partnership with the Metlakatla Indian Tribe, which has total jurisdiction of the waters off its Annette Island shorelines, an area of about 85 square miles.

The tours began last week and Lethin believes the crew is giving guests an authentic glimpse of the fishing life.
They’ve seen it on TV, and now they get to feel the exhilaration when the crab pot comes over the sidethey hear the water dripping off the pot and smell the bait and feel it crash down on the launcher,” said Lethin. “They understand now why we go back for more.”

Check out the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tours at www.56degreesnorth.com

This entry was posted in Alaska, F/V Aleutian Ballad, Tourism. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The F/V Aleutian Ballad bids farewell to commerical Fishing

  1. Elizabeth Nalley says:

    My family and I went on the AB last week during a cruise ship excursion. It was the best. You actually get to see the crab pods dumped into the waters and also see them retrieve the pods along with other crab nets, pulling a variety of crab besides the king crab from the pods. Some barrell looking thing that they pulled from the waters had a octupus and another had an eel. They also pulled a mix of shrip and my son actually held one up, it was about 6-7 inches long. All I can say is the is a must see. Don’t miss out on this trip.

  2. Lynn Grant says:

    We did the trip with Aleutian Ballad on our Alaska cruise stop at Ketchikan and it was fantastic. We took our 13 yr old grandson. Teenagers are hard to impress, but he loved this trip. He got up close with all sort of crabs, fish and even a very large octopus. This tour is a definite must for anybody who has seen the show – you’ll have a whole new appreciation for what these guys do. The highlight is the crew themselves – they are so much fun and full of stories. Great experience!!!

  3. Naomi Harrison says:

    We did our tour with the Aleutian Ballard when our cruise ship docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was the highlight of our trip. To be on a ship that was once a King Crab (Deadliest Catch) ship was a treat in itself.
    Viewing the way the crab pots work and the catch they bring on board is exciting. We got to see numerous types of crabs along with an octupus and wolf eel. We even got to hold the crabs. The crew was so down to earth and such wonderful people and wonderful stories of their life at sea. This is a trip that everyone MUST go on and believe me you will never, ever forget.
    THANKS to Everyone and KiWi I will definitely visit New Zealand, your home country, and stay 2 weeks in the north and 4 weeks in the south.

  4. Karen Schneidermeyer says:

    We just returned from 13 days in Alaska – what an awesome trip! While in Ketchikan we did the tour on the Aleutian Ballard and it was fantastic. The crew is unbelievable and very enthusiastic. They are experts in what they do and obviously love what they do. I would highly recommend this tour. It’s worth every penny. My kids thought it was the best – they watch Deadliest Catch and thought it was so cool to be on this boat. Don’t miss this one!

  5. Darrell Gregory says:

    We just finished the Alaska cruise and the trip on the Aleutian Ballard was definitely the highlight of the cruise. You are actually able to see how things work on the ship.

  6. John Newman says:

    My wife and I went on this tour in 2008 and then again just last week. We spent Independence Day watching bald eagles swoop down on the AB, going after the herring thrown in the waters…not a bad day, to be sure! It is definitely a MUST SEE tour!! When we go back to Alaska, we will be sure to go again for a third time…it was that good!

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