Life at Sea

Both the Baranof and Courageous were Coast Guard 180 ft. Cactus class buoy tenders whose icebreaker hulls were built in the early 1940’s. The Baranof original name was the Balsam and was built in Duluth, Minnesota. The Courageous was called the Tupelo and was built at Curtis Bay, Maryland. The Balsam underwent conversion to the F/V Baranof in 1978 in Seattle at Sealand Associates and the Tupelo became the Courageous in early 1979 at the same facility.

Both boats began fishing in the late 1970’s as crab catcher processors, which meant they caught and processed their catch onboard instead of delivering live crab to a shore side processor. After the King Crab collapse of the early 1980’s both boats spent several years fishing sablefish with long line traps or pots with the subsequent harvest history evolving into the issuance of IFQ quota shares of which Baranof Fisheries still retains and the boats still harvest under a royalty agreement to Baranof Fisheries.  

By the late 1990’s up until the present time both boats were primarily long lining for Pacific Cod or sablefish with king crab still occurring in October as short seasons less than a week. However both boats were able to stay busy 9 to 10 months a year which was fortunate as most crab only vessels were fishing 3 weeks or less annually by 2004. Starting August of 2005 the Bering Sea crab fleet starts a new era where crab quotas are assigned to vessels based on catch history thereby eliminating the “derby” format and allowing a rational approach which will allow catcher processors to maximize the value of their allocation. This will also allow planning of the fishing season which will allow the vessels to operate more profitably and allow the boats to pick the optimum times to long line and crab fish. The crab rationalization coupled with our vessels versatility and strong ownership group involving CDQ partners makes us very optimistic about our future in the North Pacific Fisheries.  

Seeking to stay busy in the ever evolving world of commercial fishing the Courageous installed a Mustad automated long line system in the late 1980’s enabling the vessel to enter the Pacific cod fishery for the first time. Baranof followed suit a year later and both boats spent most of the early to mid-1990’s fishing Opilio crab part of the year and long lining part of the year with some short king crab seasons occurring occasionally in the fall.