The “WIZARD” is a single deck crab fishing vessel designed for ocean service with a single diesel-oil propulsion engine, single rudder and single propeller. The vessel was built in 1945 by Ira Bushey and Sons, Inc. of Brooklyn, NY to a US Navy design as a yard oiler. After serving the Navy, the vessel was decommissioned and tied up in Boston Harbor until September 1, 1974. In 1974, the vessel was sold to a private party and used as a molasses hauler for 8 months. In 1978, it was purchased by John Jorgensen and converted at Bender Shipbuilding of Mobile, AL to serve as a crab fishing vessel. A bow thruster was added in 1978. The vessel has participated in Bering Sea crab fisheries since conversion.
The hull is constructed of all welded steel construction and includes a raised foredeck with a framed steel top house placed aft, a vertical stem with a moderately flared bow and an elliptical stern. The vessel is comprised of three levels including a main deck, spaces below the main deck and an 01 deck level above the main deck with a wheelhouse on the 01 level. The 01 deck is a forward weather deck that carries anchor gear and moorage tackle, and the top level of a full width deck enclosure aft with a raised partial-width deckhouse used as a navigation bridge forward with an office and master’s accommodations aft.
The main deck is enclosed forward to accommodate a bait locker and a chain locker. The weather deck aft is stocked with fishing equipment, deck cranes and hatches to the holds and machinery spaces below. A full-width deckhouse is aft.
The hold/machinery deck (below deck) is divided into 13 primary watertight compartments. Forward the collision bulkhead is a saltwater ballast tank. Next aft is a bow thruster and refrigeration machinery space with a double bottom potable water tank below. Next aft are port and stb dry holds. The port hold also contains refrigeration machinery and equipment.
Next aft are 2 port and 2 stbd flooded holds arranged on the sides of the centerline with double bottom fuel tanks below, typically kept pressed with fresh water. Next aft is an engine room with main propulsion machinery, electrical power generation plants, bilge, fresh water, fuel system and other ancillary machinery, as well as non-integral lube oil and hydraulic oil tanks integral fresh water tanks and integral fuel oil wing and day tanks. Aft is a steering gear compartment with a fresh water peak tank below.
1. John as a boy was onboard his fathers vessel the F/V Majestic. 2. The Wizard was named after John’s grandfather’s Longliner. 3. John Jorgensen clowning around in the crab hold. 4. John Jorgensen and family sailing the Wizard through the Panama Canal. 5. The Wizard loaded with crab pots, circa 1978. 6, 7, 8. Keith with his new boat in 2005.
Built by the US Navy
The Wizard is a 155’x30’ vessel commissioned to be built by the U.S. Navy in 1945 in Brooklyn, NY by the Ira S. Bushey shipyard. Her original name is an International Marine Organization (IMO) number, YO-210. She is one of the few remaining YO-153 class vessels.
Purchased by John Jorgensen
After World War II, she was laid up in mothballs in Boston harbor. Some of the Oiler fleet was used as target practice, or for building artificial reefs off the Eastern seaboard in the last few decades. YO-210 was eventually purchased and made one trip unsuccessfully as the Clifford K hauling molasses before being purchased by John Jorgensen in 1978 to be converted to a fishing vessel to fish crab in the Bering Sea. The boat was then renamed the Wizard after his grandfather’s Longliner, which was one of the premier cod and halibut boats in the Seattle fleet of the early and mid 20th Century. John’s father and grandfather were Norwegian immigrants in the pioneer days of the Alaskan commercial fishing industry, and John started working for them at a very young age.
Outfitted as a crabber
Bender Shipyard in Louisiana converted the Wizard to a crabber in 1978, from where John and his family sailed her through the Panama Canal and on to Seattle where Marco Shipyard finished the conversion. She originally had 8 tanks for carrying oil cargo and a capacity of 240,000 gallons. During the conversion, two of the tanks were eliminated to increase the size of the engine room to hold added generators and a salt-water circulation system. Four of the original tanks are used as live holding tanks for crab, and the two forward tanks are used for dry storage and refrigerated seawater unit. The house and living quarters were increased, and a substantial amount of hydraulics for the two cranes and crab pot hauling equipment were added.
Fishing in the King Crab Heyday
The F/V Wizard (Fishing Vessel is a Coast Guard registered vessel) began fishing crab in 1979 during what is now known as the “King Crab Heyday” of the late 1970’s. She targeted primarily Bairdi crab (tanner) and the fledgling opilio crab (snow) throughout the 1980’s. In the late 1980’s, when king crab had recovered and opilio quotas surged to phenomenal levels, the Wizard routinely was one of the top 10 crab producers in the Bering Sea in a fleet that at times would be as large as 270 vessels. Under John Jorgensen’s tutelage while still active as a captain, Keith Colburn learned the ropes of becoming a proficient crab captain.
Wizard ranks in top 5 for King Crab allocations
In 2005, when NOAA under the Department of Commerce enacted the Crab Rationalization program, vessels of the Bering Sea were awarded IFQs (individual fishing quotas). The Wizard’s King and Opilio crab allocations were among the highest in the Bering Sea for an individual boat, ranking in the top 5 for Kings, and top 10 for Opilio, in a fleet in excess of 250 vessels.
Vessel is sold to long-time Wizard Captain, Keith Colburn
John Jorgensen sold the vessel to Keith Colburn in July of 2005. John maintains a close relationship with Keith who harvests his IFQ allocation, as well as that of a number of other IFQ crab holders, all by lease agreements. The Wizard is now working with another boat in the Alaska Crab Producers Cooperative, a sub district of the Inter Cooperative Exchange, the largest harvest cooperative in the Bering Sea.