As the sun sets over the open waters, most harbor-goers might assume that the crab boat captains are tucking into their bunks for a well-deserved rest. Yet, it’s not uncommon for the captains to remain at the helm for long stretches of up to 30 hours, particularly during the peak crab seasons.
Crabbing is a 24/7 operation, and the captains of these boats are tasked with monitoring the crab pots, engines, and the boat’s draft regularly. Often, they need to make quick decisions on whether to relocate to a new spot, based on variables like currents, wind, and temperature. To ensure the safety of the crew and the vessel, the boat captain needs to be alert and ready to act whenever necessary.
During peak seasons, the demand for crab in the markets is incredibly high, which means the competition and the pressure on the captains increases. It’s not uncommon for captains to work through the night or for several days without a break, to meet the demand and keep their businesses profitable.
So,? Yes, but only in short intervals, if at all. Typically, the captains can catch little naps during slower periods, and some have developed the art of sleeping while standing or leaning against the wheelhouse door. Since the job is demanding both physically and mentally, the captains often invest in armchairs or recliners, installed in the wheelhouse for a more comfortable nap.
To help reduce fatigue and ensure safety onboard, many crab boats have implemented a system of multiple captains or crew members rotating in and out, to allow for brief periods of rest before returning for their turn at the helm. It helps break up the monotony of the long hours and the stress, making it easier for everyone to stay sharp and focused.
Crab boat captains do sleep but typically in short intervals, if at all. While the job requires a great deal of endurance and alertness, it’s essential to remember the importance of rest and taking breaks to avoid burnout and ensure that everyone stays safe.