timistravels

My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Touring the Largest Crab Processing Plant in the World, St. Paul Island

on March 12, 2012
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school board member Jason Bourdukofsky shared these new pictures with me from this week’s crabbing on St. Paul Island

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school board member Jason Bourdukofsky shared these new pictures with me from this week’s crabbing on St. Paul Island

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school board member Jason Bourdukofsky shared these new pictures with me from this week’s crabbing on St. Paul Island

Friday, March 9, 2012

This entry is written backwards from the last day to the first, because the last day was the most fun and interesting, starting off with watching the moon set over the Bering Sea (see picture) followed by lots of activities, including a tour of the Largest Crab Processing Plant in the World, Trident on St. Paul Island.

The film crew from “Deadliest Catch” was on site the same day filming the Wizzard as it came into off load crab.  Here are some of the facts of this plant:

  • Crab are off loaded alive because if they die, they must be frozen within 60 minutes or they go bad.
  • During this, the high season for crab, they will process 50,000 to 500,000 pounds of crab in one day (up to a 16 hour shift).
  • To start off the crab are lifted from the boat in big barrel looking tubs and,
  • 7-8 workers in the ‘hole’ putting the crab into the ‘braibers’ and then into the hoppers, there are 6 hoppers with 2 conveyor belts on each side of the door where live crab are placed.
  • As the live crab move on the conveyor belt they are killed, these machines do 40 crab a minute
  • After this they are “butchered”, where core body shells are blown leaving the legs and other edible parts to continue with.
  • Once the pieces are separated by grade (low, medium and high quality by size), they are placed in metal containers that hold about 45 pounds.
  • Each container is lowered into boiling water and cooked for 18.5 minutes for tanner/snow crab.  (if it were king crab that needs to cook for 25 minutes).
  • After it is cooked it is first dropped into salt water.
  • After the salt water it is then placed in ½ salt ½ fresh water,
  • Finally, it is lowered into water that is -3 degrees  and b/c salt is in water will not freeze!
  • It is then moved on another belt to a location where the 45#’s are placed in blue plastic bags and ultimately in a box.
  • The boxes are stacked and put in huge freezer.
  •  6000-8000, 45# boxes are done in one day.
  • To do all of this work they need 320 staff, most of them are from foreign countries as there is not a lot of luck recruiting people in the states.
  • Workers live and eat on site, (they have dorm like living quarters and cafeteria style eating).
  • The workers pay for their housing and food in advance of arriving to the job, BUT if they remain during the entire season they get all that money back.

All of these steps are highlighted  in the pictures.

I have a video of the Wizzard trying to get into the harbor, it tried for over an hour but had to pull back out eventually due to the current, tide and amount of ice in the harbor.  It made me sea sick just watching the boat as the water was causing the boat to rock so badly.

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Thursday March 8, 2012

Though the weather on Wed. was great, the weather today was terrible, a blizzard hit the island and 55+ MPH winds were blowing and there was a total white out.  School was called off and we had to wait until Mac, the district go to guy could come pick us up and take us to the school.

Interviews went most of the day, lunch was ‘fish pie’ a local favorite, halibut, rice, corn, bacon, all in a crust.  YUMMY.

As the day progressed, the weather improved and we were invited to have dinner at the Trident plant cafeteria (where the workers eat).  Since there is no ‘restaurant’ in town, this was about the closest we could get and it was a nice dinner.

The best part of the day was the sunset, which there are photos of!  Sunset around 8:15 p.m.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In the morning I met up with the three candidates for the superintendents position at the ANC airport.  My supervisor was flying in from Fairbanks with 2 candidates that had interviewed the day before in a district up north.  The 3rd candidate flew in the day before from MT.

At 11:45 our flight was a ‘go’ and we were all headed to the boarding area, UNTIL the announcement came over the system: St. Paul flight is on hold currently, we will update you at 12:30, as currently we don’t have a crew  WHAT????!!!! So, Tasky Timi grabbed my phone and emailed my new contact at Pen Air asking him, how once again there was not a crew for a scheduled flight, indicating I would like a call.  Within 3 minutes the ‘mucky muck, big wig’ called and said he could not believe it and he would get back to me within 10 minutes.  He did and informed me that the crew was on its way in and we would be off the ground by 12:30.  Well, we were boarding around 12:30 and off by 12:50, but at least we go the ball rolling.  I reminded him how URGENT the flight on Friday would be because of the company that was joining me… candidates for a job that only 1 would be offered.!  He said he would call me on Friday and keep in touch as to the status of the flight!  He will regret the day he gave me his # and email 🙂

We stopped in Dillingham for fuel and then took off for St. Paul.  As we landed it was a PERFECT March day here! Sunshine, blue sky etc.  We of course all joked that it was like this all the time here (not!).

Dinner with the board and candidates was a Costco based meal, and all loved it.  I brought fresh veggies, lettuce, tomatoes, etc for a salad… big hit!  Then after dinner was a community forum for all and anyone to attend and meet the candidates, it too was successful.

Funniest parts of the day:

1. using a district vehicle  I was headed to my place (teacher housing, VERY nice), and I could NOT make it up a hill.  I had to go in reserve down the hill, and tried again with no luck.  Tried an alternative road and same luck, I could not get the 150 truck up the hill.  Came into the school with my head hung low until we realized that the right front tire was almost flat!

2. at the end of the evening I took the same truck with a newly filled tire and headed home, with the female candidate who was also staying at the housing unit with me.  However we could NOT find the house, we drove around and around and around, drove by the superintendents home 4 times until I finally stopped to ask for help. How do I mange to travel the world and not get lost but on an island of 400 + people I can’t find my house! craziness!


3 responses to “Touring the Largest Crab Processing Plant in the World, St. Paul Island

  1. karen whorton says:

    fascinating, love the pix of the moon too! Your new background looks great

    Like

    • Miranda says:

      hi, my name is Miranda and i am doing my senior project for school on Alaskan blue and red crab and the process of catching them, also on the fisherman and what is required of them…i was wondering if there was anyway you could contact me so i could maybe ask you some questions for my paper that i have to write. i would greatly appreciate it if i could interview you through e-mail or phone. if you could help me out, my email address is smiranda_1995@yahoo.com…thank you 🙂

      Like

  2. Shanna Hamiltion says:

    That must have been a cool experience! I’ve always wondered what a crab processing equipment plant is like!

    Like

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