If there’s something that “Deadliest Catch” has taught us over the years, is that tragedies are unfortunately common at sea. Though many cast members can proudly say they’ve dodged or even escaped the many difficulties that the commercial fishing profession throws their way, others have not been as lucky.
Considering all the hardships fishing crews have to face on high seas, it’s not surprising to see many “Deadliest Catch” fans worrying about Captain Keith Colburn and his vessel The Wizard’s whereabouts in recent seasons.
So whatever happened to it? Has the Wizard sunk? Is Keith alright, and what’s up with its crew?? This and more we will tell you in this vid!
Did The Wizard Sink?
Fortunately, the fishing vessel The Wizard hasn’t sunk, though it has definitely gone through some tough times lately.
In March 2021 The Wizard flooded when a massive wave hit it, breaking its wheelhouse’s windows, damaging the ceiling and battery charges in the process. Parts of the dash such as the autopilot, radars, steering and other ITEMS were taken out thanks to the water.
F/V Wizard, AK Crabber, Deadliest Catch Fleet
As expected, the situation was more than worrisome, especially for Captain Keith who at the time wasn’t on board the boat. His brother Monte had to deal with it alone, with the small crew remaining at that late time of the season.
Though the power and engine were working, it took Monte and his crew several hours to get the steering back. The nightmare finally ended after finding the Coast Guard, who helped them to get their equipment working.
According to Captain Keith, as the season had already wrapped up filming at the time of the incident, the “Deadliest Catch”s camera crew wasn’t on board The Wizard. Even if no one was severely injured, the material damage was still considerable regardless, as the boat’s wheelhouse was ‘a complete disaster’ and needed total remodeling. Nonetheless, Captain Keith made sure that The Wizard was perfectly functional by the next fishing season.
Was Keith Recently Sick?
After working 25 years on the sea, Captain Keith Colburn has certainly seen a lot of bad and even horrible things.
However, none of that could ever have prepared him to face COVID-19 in April 2021.
Hoping he could help his followers to ‘steer clear of this virus’, Keith shared the news of his complicated health condition via a Twitter video, on which he was seen connected to an oxygen mask, a result of the pneumonia the virus caused in him.
Later in an interview with Nicki Swift in June 2021, Keith affirmed that he still occasionally needed oxygen, and resting as much as he could, even after weeks of being out of hospital. As he admitted, ‘I pride myself in being like Mr. Safety. Yeah, except when it comes to [my] body which is on the homestretch of COVID’.
Apparently, the 10 days of quarantine following his hospital discharge were an ‘ordeal’, but Captain Keith overcame it. As seen on his social media, Keith’s health complications weren’t able to stop him from taking an active role in repairing The Wizard’s wheelhouse, which is an impressive feat on its own.
The Wizard’s History
Originally named YO-210, The Wizard has a lot of stories to tell. Serving initially as a yard oiler for the Navy, the YO-210 was built in 1945 and worked for a couple of years before being decommissioned at the war’s end, only occasionally used in minor activities. It wasn’t until 1978 that the YO-210 was rebaptized as The Wizard by its new owner John Jorgensen, who converted it into a crabber to continue his immigrant Norwegian family’s fishing tradition.
Several modifications were done to The Wizard back then, including eliminating two of its eight original cargo tanks in favor of adding a bigger engine room, having more space for additional generators; the remaining tanks became crab holders and refrigeration units. Remodeling the crew’s living space, as well as the hydraulic and water circulation systems, the cranes and necessary equipment was a priority for Jorgensen.
Only a year after its purchase, The Wizard was navigating and fishing for crabs on the Bering Sea, centering its activities mostly on Opilio and Bairdi crabs during the entirety of the 1980s, impressively becoming one of the top crab producers in the area during the following two decades, as stated on the vessel’s website. Since then, The Wizard’s crew has lived through difficult and good times all the same.
Who Is Keith Colburn?
As with many other Captains in the Bering Sea, Keith Colburn started from the bottom. Growing up in Nevada, Keith had been working in local restaurants for eight years by the time he was 22 years old, when he moved from Lake Tahoe to Alaska to pursue a fishing career. Although his best friend Kurt Frankenberg accompanied him during that adventure, both barely had $50 in their pockets, and just owned a backpack to survive.
Keith’s first job was as a greenhorn on the crabber Alaska Trader, a job which apparently impressed him so deeply it got him hooked for life.
After three years fishing on the Bering Sea, in 1988 he was hired as a deckhand by the then Captain of The Wizard, John Jorgensen. That marked the real start of Keith’s adventure, as by 1990 he‘d acquired a Master Captain license, and become The Wizard’s Captain.
His knowledge on how to be a capable helm skipper didn’t come only by studying, though. It’s John Jorgensen whom Keith credits for teaching him almost everything about being a Captain. Though he remained at The Wizard’s helm, in 2002 Keith bought his own vessel -Siren – which he sold two years later. In 2005, Keith finally purchased The Wizard from Jorgensen, who remained his friend.
The Wizard Nowadays
After taking The Wizard’s helm, Captain Keith Colburn and the vessel accomplished many great things.
For starters, taking risks such as navigating deep on the Bering Sea and fishing near Alaska’s icebergs resulted in Keith impressively fishing 540,000 lbs of crabs – about 250,000 kgs- in 2002, something considered record breaking even at the time.
Famous fisherman reels in key leadership lessons https://t.co/dquzZ6YG4O
— Capt Keith Colburn (@crabwizard) October 27, 2021
Keith kept The Wizard’s producing quota high even regardless of its downsize in crabbers in 2005, maintaining a top ten position as a Opilio and King crabber out of 200 boats in the area.
As well, The Wizard has kept a very stable and uninterrupted spot as one of “Deadliest Catch”s star vessels since its debut during the third season, so no wonder why it’s one of the most popular crabbers in the show.
We know Captain Keith Colburn for his impressive skills at the helm of The Wizard, however, more than just a fisher, he’s a man of business.
Working in many restaurants in Tahoe was a big part of Keith’s youth.
By having several jobs as a saucer and assistant to even receiving professional training as a chef, it all amounted to Keith’s love for food and cooking never fading, regardless of the many years he spent fishing in Alaska.
Some decades later, and making use of the popularity “Deadliest Catch” gave him, in 2015 Keith started his own sauce and condiment brand, Captain Keith’s Catch, specializing mostly in seafood. The product line was released in that year’s summer, and as the good businessman he is, Keith promoted it on several online and TV food shows.
However, it’s unknown what happened to his venture. Although the brand’s information is still listed on his website, there’s no information as of where to buy it, and he stopped promoting it on his social media altogether, leading us to think that it wasn’t as financially successful as he initially expected.
Regardless of his business’s unknown fate, it’s undeniable that his efforts in making his long-time dream of becoming a chef come true are admirable.
Public Speaking Career
Besides his success as an entrepreneur and in the crab fishing business, Captain Keith Colburn also prides himself for his leadership skills, and ability to influence people through his words.
Due to this, Keith’s career as a motivational public speaker has been thriving in recent years. His experience as a leader in an industry as difficult as commercial fishing it’s impressive, but what really sets him apart from other public speakers is his charismatic personality, especially his sense of humor.
His services as a spokesperson can be contracted through his website, on which his upcoming public events are also listed. The list of topics the Captain usually addresses in his events go from risk management, safety, teamwork, to leadership. Though it’s unknown how much he charges per event presentation, the fact his services are listed on renowned sites of the industry, such as AEI Speakers Bureau, it’s logical to think his career is well compensated.
How Does Keith Manage Stressing Situations?
Although Keith is well known for managing and expanding The Wizard’s business in an impressive way, it’s impossible to forget some of his most controversial feuds in the show, or even worse, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a cameraman.
Nonetheless, in the latest years Keith has toned-down his former flaming behavior, even when faced with unavoidable problems with his crew or fellow captains. That partially might have to do with his recently-acquired career as a public speaker, but mostly because of a somewhat traumatic experience he went through back in 2009. As Keith recalled in an interview with Business Observer, The Wizard was hit by a ’40-foot wall of water’ which pushed several pots of crab over him and crew members, one of who suffered severe head and back injuries. As Captain, Keith was left to repair the ship’s damage and help the injured crewman on his own.
While the situation might have been distressing, Keith kept himself in check and solved it. It was an experience that made him understand better his role as a captain, admitting: ‘I’ve had to be a motivator, a life coach and everything else to keep my boat running,’
Though not everyone might like Keith’s personality, his leadership skills are undeniable.
Relationship With His Brother
It’s said that blood runs thicker than water, but if there’s something that the many family feuds we have seen on reality TV have taught us, it’s that family ties aren’t easily deal with.
When it comes to Keith and his brother Monte, things certainly aren’t easy. We’re used to seeing the brothers teaming up at the helm of The Wizard for several “Deadliest Catch” seasons, but while their relationship has had its lows and highs, at the end of the show’s 14th season a severe argument between them resulted in the firing of Monte.
Before the start of the 15th season, Keith did a job at reassuring his fans that everything was okay between him and his brother, going as far as to hire Monte again for the upcoming season. However, as Keith told PopCulture, they hadn’t actually reconciled by then.
Although the issue between the brothers was due to Monte’s disrespect towards a crew member, by the time the season wrapped up the pair had already mended their differences.
Many considered this necessary, not only because of family ties, but also for being the most beneficial route to assure The Wizard’s future, of which Monte is considered to be the best Captain prospect following Keith’s potential upcoming retirement.
Is The Wizard Still In The Show?
To date, it’s still unknown if The Wizard will be included in the “Deadliest Catch”s 18th season, as its premiere’s details are still undisclosed. Anyway, the fishing vessel and its crew were a constant presence during the show’s 17th season, finalized in September 2021.
If you’re wondering if The Wizard is in a good-enough state to navigate the Bering Sea, then you’ll be happy to know the vessel is in good condition. As seen on Captain Keith Colburn’s Twitter, repairs were almost completely done as early as June that year.
However, while The Wizard’s wheelhouse disaster and Keith’s health complication are now in the past, getting the best out of the crab fishing seasons hasn’t been easy for anyone. According to Keith, global warming has made his profession a lot more difficult and risky than it was decades ago: ‘every year it gets worse and worse and worse’ he affirmed, recalling how in his earliest times as Captain, storms were a rare occurrence, a clear contrast to the weekly storms he has to face nowadays.
All in all, nature makes fishing difficult these days, but the safety measures crews have to take in order to prevent environment-related disasters on board are also a complication to Keith’s profession.