How Much Do Crab Boats Cost? 8 Examples (Used & New)

In Boating by Christopher Schopf

A large crab boat needs to be able to stay at sea for months at a time while carrying its crew, everything the crew needs to survive, and all of the crabs the crew catches.

These boats are often traveling through rough water and they need to be able to do so safely.

So how much do crab boats cost?
A large crab boat might cost a few million dollars while a small crab boat might cost between $75,000.00 and $150,000.00 new.  Medium-sized crab boats might cost anywhere from a few hundred thousand to a million dollars.

In the rest of this post, we’ll tell you what this cost actually means.

We’ll also explain some of the other costs but let’s start with some examples on crab boat prices.

Even small crab boats need to be self-sufficient for the day and they need to be able to hold a substantial amount of crab pots without capsizing.  Because of all of this, crab boats are not cheap.

8 Crab Boat Price Examples

BEAUFORT, SOUTH CAROLINA-MAY 23, 2014: An unidentified commercial fisherman hauls a crab trap onto a boat

Now that you know what it’s like on a crab boat as well as what goes into building a crab boat, here are 8 price examples of crab boats for you to review.

1. The Waef

This crab boat is a small crabbing boat built from aluminum. It has a length of 22’9” and width of 10’5”.   The engine is a 300 HP 6068 John Deere Diesel.  It was built in 2004 and is located in Lower Mainland, BC.

The engine consumes about 20 – 35 gallons per 12 hour fishing day and it can travel at a speed of 29 knots. There are two fuel tanks which can hold a total of 150 gallons of fuel.

There is a live tank on the deck with a capacity for 1,000 live prawns.  The boat does not come with crab pots so you’d have to plan for buying the crab pots before you could head out on the water.

This boat is a small crabbing boat so you wouldn’t spend more than a day or two on it before heading back to land.  It doesn’t have any crew quarters and the only sheltered part of the boat is where the wheelhouse is located.

The nice thing about the boat being so small is that it can technically be trailered.  While it is too wide to take out on the roads, it could be stored in dry storage at a dock and could be dropped into the water via a boat ramp each day.

This would save on docking fees and would make storing the boat much easier.

This boat is selling for $128,000.00.

2. The Partner

This crab boat is a bit larger than the Waef. It has a length of 28’7” and a width of 13’.  It has a 250 HP Volvo Diesel engine and an aluminum hull.  The engine can cruise at 9 knots and has a full speed of 10 knots.  The fuel tank holds 900 liters which gives it a 250 nautical mile range.

This boat is a pure crabbing boat and is fully set up already.  It has two – 1,200 pound live totes and a 400-pound live tank.  There are 200 traps, 30 skates, 125 floats, and 250 bait jars included in the sale.

It also has a full electronics package.  This includes a Furuno GPS, a Goldstar 24-mile radar system, a Furuno sounder, and Kobelt controls.

The wheelhouse also holds an area for the crew to live in for short periods of time.  There is a small galley, a heat stove, a small dinette area, and a bed.

This boat isn’t going to hold up to months out at the Bering Sea, but it is sturdy enough to go on short excursions in milder waters.  It is a good starter boat for someone looking for a vessel that will allow them to stay out on the water for a few days before having to head back inland.

It is currently selling for $121,000.00.

3. The Fat Fish

This boat was built in 1988 by Gooldrup. It is a combination of crabbing and salmon fishing boat. The length of the boat is 36’1” and the width is 17’10”.

The engine on the boat is a 220 HP 6068 John Deere Diesel with 4,505 hours on it.  This boat has a cruising speed of 7 knots and 6 fuel tanks which combined bring it to a total of 3,600 liters of capacity.  The auxiliary engine is 9 kW with 3,451 hours on it.

This boat can pack 15,000 pounds of crab and 14,000 pounds of salmon in the main hold.  It can sleep three or four people and has a water tank of 150 gallons.

The electronics of the boat consist of two GPS, VHF, and radar systems.  There are two inverters, one at 800 watts and one at 1,500 watts.

This boat is nice because it is large enough to handle rougher seas.  It is also large enough to house a small crew for extended periods of time.  On top of this, it is dual-use so a crew could realistically make a full-time living off of the boat.

To buy this boat, you’ll need $371,000.00. 

To operate it, you’ll want a crew of three to five people.

4. The Hooyah

This boat is a 37’ fiberglass crab boat. The width is 13’ and it was built in 1979. According to the owner, it needs some work.

The engine on this boat is 120HP diesel that burns about 1.5 gallons per hour.  It has a cruising speed of 8 knots and a full speed of 10 knots.  There are two fuel tanks that hold a total of 400 gallons of fuel.

The boat comes with a full array of crab pots as well as a 10” crab davit winch.  It can only sleep two people as the interior area is small for a boat of this size.

According to the listing, the owner is highly motivated and the boat is only selling at $11,900.00.  This leads me to believe that extensive repairs will be needed to make this boat sea-worthy.  On the plus side, you can obtain a large and well-outfitted boat at an extremely low price.

If you’re a marine mechanic who knows how to repair older boats, this might be the perfect deal for you to take advantage of.  On the other hand, if you don’t have much experience with boat repair, this boat may be the wrong boat for you to get started on.

You’ll end up spending more time dealing with issues than you will spend out on the water crabbing.

5. The Caremi

The Caremi is an older boat. It was built in 1951 and can be used as a crab boat or a tuna boat.  It is 54’ long and 14’ wide and has an engine size of 325 HP.  The engine is a Cummins diesel and the hull is made from steel.

The engine only has 500 hours on it and it can travel at 9 knots an hour.  There are 6 fuel tanks and they hold 2,800 gallons of fuel in total.  The auxiliary engine is an Isuzu 4 cylinder and it has 26,000 hours on it.  This engine consumes about 7 gallons of fuel per hour.

There are a fridge and a freezer as well as an electric stove in the galley.  The water tank holds 1,200 gallons and there is sleeping for three people.  There is also a microwave and a boss radio inside the galley.

The electronics consist of a Furuno Navigator GPS, a Standard Horizon VHF, a computer, a Furuno radar, a Furuno sounder, a Simrad Plotter, a ComNav autopilot system, and a Global Star SAT phone.  There are also three additional radios.

This boat also includes a 4 person life raft and 5 survival suits.  I thought these differing numbers were interesting.  Is the captain expected to go down with the ship?

Although this boat is almost 70 years old, it looks like it could easily be taken out to sea in safety.  The hull is made from steel, the engine is new, and there is every modern electronic device that a crab boat can have.

The cost of this boat is $250,000.00. 

This is a lot less expensive than some of the newer boats, but still a lofty investment for many new captains.

6. The Buccaneer

This boat was built in 1974. It is 65’6” long and 22’6” wide.  The hull is made from steel and the engine is a 360 HP Detroit diesel.  The boat has been used as a crabber and a longliner.

The cruising speed on this boat is 9 knots and there are 9 fuel tanks.  These fuel tanks combine to offer up 10,750 gallons of fuel.

Inside the boat is 8 berths a stove, a fridge, a freezer, a large galley sink, and three water tanks which can hold a total of 5,600 gallons of fuel.  There is also a microwave, a 19” tv, and a stereo system within the galley.

The electronics consist of 2 Furuno GPS systems, an Icom Standard VHF, a Trac phone SSB, a Dell laptop, a Furuno radar a Furuno sounder, an EchoTec Plotter, a Dirigo compass, and a Seth Thomas Barometer.  In addition to all of this, the sale includes 4 crab blocks, 6 survival suits, an 8 person Viking life raft, and a 4,000 crane.

This vessel is selling for $825,000.00. 

While this boat might be expensive, it is large enough and well equipped enough to crab for months at a time before having to come to shore.  You could realistically take a boat like this out into the Bering Sea in Alaska.

7. The Katherine

The Katherine is a 77’ long by 22’5” wide boat built by Master Marine in 1978. This boat has a hull that is made of steel.  The engine on this boat is a 355 HP Cummins 855 Diesel engine.  It can hold 17,000 pounds of salmon and is setup for crab and cod.

This vessel has a cruising speed of 8.5 knots and its two steel fuel tanks can hold a total of 9,900 gallons of fuel.  The auxiliary engine is a John Deere with 15,000 hours on it.

The Katherine can sleep 6 and its galley has a stove, fridge, freezer, and sink.  The main water tank holds 5,000 gallons and the hot water tank holds 50 gallons.

The electronics consist of two Furuno GPS systems, an Eclipse VHF, a Standard Horizon SSB, a Nobletec 9.0 computer, a Furuno radar, and a Robertson autopilot system.  Extras include 8 survival suits, a deck crane, a cargo winch and a 6 man life raft.

This vessel is selling for $535,000.00.  However, if you’d like the permit for the cod pot, hook, line, and jig, you’ll need to buy the package which is $710,000.00.

8. The Maggy J

The Maggy J is a 40′ x 14′ crabbing boat built-in 1986 by Modutech Marine Inc.  It has also been used for catching salmon as well.  This boat has a 320 HP engine and a 550-gallon fuel tank.  The auxiliary engine is a Generac.

This boat can sleep 4 people and it has a water tank of only 50 gallons.  The small water tank and the small fuel tank mean that this boat can’t spend a lot of time out at sea before coming back in.

The electronics on this boat include a Furuno GPS a Standard VHF, a Stephens SEA 105 SSB, a Furuno radar, a Lowrance sounder, a Furuno plotter, and an Airguide compass.

This boat is selling right now for $190,000.00.

Life On a Large Crab Boat

As we said in our opening paragraph, a large crab boat is at sea with its crew for months at a time.  This crab boat operates 24 hours a day and the crew needs to be comfortable with the job, the boat, and each other.

Typically, a crew will consist of six people and there needs to be enough room to store food, gear, and emergency supplies for the entire crew for the entire time that they’ll be out at sea.

This might include bunks, heads, lockers, fire extinguishers, and advanced medical kits.

8 Things To Check On Crab Boat (Including Prices!)

A crab boat will have a lot of gear on it that you won’t find on a typical recreational boat or yacht.

However, it will also have some of the same components that you would find on a typical boat.

Here is what a crab boat will have on it:

  1. Electronic Systems
  2. Crabbing Equipment
  3. Living Quarters
  4. Crab Pots
  5. Hooks, Lines, And Cables
  6. Carb Sorting Tables
  7. Live Tanks
  8. LIving Wuarters

1) Electronic Systems To Be Aware Off

The electronic systems on a crabbing boat are crucial for its safety and profitability.  They’re also what helps a crabbing boat stay legal.  This is because the federal government has passed laws stating what type of safety and rescue equipment must be on the boat.

One of these pieces of safety equipment is the automatic identification system.  This system allows the boat to be visible on the radar displays of larger ships.  Having this system on the boat helps to keep them from being hit by other ships.  These systems allow the boat to be seen up to 15 to 20 nautical miles away.  However, this comes at a cost.

The system can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 and this price doesn’t even include installation.

The boats themselves also need radar systems to help them move in the dark and in the fog.  Radar systems work around the clock to keep the boats from harm.

These systems also cost thousands of dollars.

Loran-C systems help the captains keep their bearings and find their crabbing pot locations.  These systems have become very accurate and can get a captain within a few hundred feet of their destination.  These systems are older and do not cost nearly as much as some of the more advanced GPS systems.

However, even these systems can be costly to buy.

The alternative to this is a newer global positioning system.  These systems are accurate and easy to use but must meet SOLAS safety requirements on commercial boats.

This makes the systems expensive.

While a standard marine GPS system might cost hundreds of dollars, these systems can cost thousands of dollars.

Ship to shore radios, satellite equipment, and even a way to get the Internet while on the water can all be added to a crabbing boat.  All of these systems are expensive and need to be protected within the wheelhouse.  This means the wheelhouse needs additional protection so that water cannot breach it and ruin the electronics inside.

Crab boats can even use electronic crab callers to help call crabs to the traps.  These callers are still new to the market but as they become more advanced they’ll become more expensive as well.

A crabbing boat will also want to have some depth finders that will show the captain where the bottom is and whether or not is a hard bottom or a soft bottom.

These aren’t terribly expensive, but they do add to the cost of owning and operating a crab boat.

The boat will also need a satellite compass.

A satellite compass is used to help with all of the other navigational equipment and it can easily cost anywhere from $3,000.00 to $10,000.00.

2) Necessary Crabbing Equipment

The crabbing equipment that is added to a boat is a big part of what makes it an actual crabbing boat.

Sure, the decks are designed to make crabbing easier, but at the end of the day, crabbing can’t happen without a large amount of equipment that is added to the deck.

Some crabbing equipment you might find on a crabbing boat is:

  • The lift system.
  • Crab pots.
  • Crab sorting tables.
  • Live tanks.

3) The Lift System

The lift system is one of the most important pieces of equipment on a crab boat.  Without the lift, it would be nearly impossible for the crew to get the 800-pound crab pots out of the water.

These lift systems do a lot of work and they have to be able to stand up to saltwater and sometimes even freezing temperatures.

A crane capable of lifting 1,000 pounds will cost a minimum of $15,000.00. 

However, most entry-level cranes will cost twice this much.  A large vessels crane might cost up to $100,000.00 and it only has a lifespan of about 10 years before it needs to be refurbished.

Refurbishing an expensive crane can cost well over $50,000.00.

4) Crab Pots

A large vessel might easily hold 100 crab pots.

These pots need to be able to hold hundreds of pounds of crab while standing up to the forces of the ocean.

These crab pots easily cost several hundred dollars each and some of the large ones can cost over a thousand.  Multiply this number by 100 and you have a lot of money invested into crab pots.

5) Hooks, Lines, and Cables

The hooks, lines, and cables for the crab boat usually don’t cost much by themselves.

However, a crab boat will need a lot of them and they’ll end up spending thousands of dollars on all of the hardware they need to get the job done.

6) Crab Sorting Tables

A crab sorting table helps the crew quickly sort out the crabs that can’t be kept.

This helps keep the operation legal and efficient.  Also, it helps the crabs as the ones that won’t be kept are quickly thrown back into the water.

A sorting table is usually made from steel and aluminum.  The reason for this is that it has to hold up to the harsh conditions of the sea.  It also has hydraulics built into it which can be expensive.

Even a small sorting table can cost upwards of $20,000.00 each.

7) Live Tanks

A large 100-foot crab boat might hold up to 200,000 crabs on it.  Even a smaller boat is going to hold a large number of live crabs.  Keeping the crabs alive is important, which means the live tanks are important as well.

These live tanks can cost thousands of dollars each.  The larger the live tank, the more it will cost.

8) Living Quarters

The living quarters on a crab boat are usually sparse, but they do cost money.  Typically the captain will have his own quarters and the rest of the crew will live in staterooms with bunks.  Up to four people might live in one room.

There will usually be one or two heads as well.  These heads get a lot of use and may need more maintenance than a typical bathroom might.

The galley needs to be able to store food for the entire crew.  It may need to store food for several months so it needs a lot of storage space.  Microwaves, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, and freezers are all a part of the galley in a crab boat.

What About New Crabbing Boats?

It’s hard to get an exact price on a new crabbing vessel.  The reason for this is that many crab boats are built from boats that were already in service.  These boats were taken and converted into crab boats by their new owners.

For example, Deadliest Catch’s Wizard was formerly a Navy vessel.  Its original mission in life was for it to be used as a fuel oil barge during World War 2.  This boat wasn’t converted into a crab fishing boat until the year 1978.

The Cornelia Marie was built in 1989 and was built to catch crabs.  However, it was also built to catch salmon and herring.  Additionally, this boat is now 30 years old so the cost of building it now could be much higher than it was when it was first built.

Large crabbing boats made specifically for crabbing will need to be designed and built from scratch.  As a result, these boats can cost millions of dollars and can take months or even years to build.  For this reason, most people will take a boat that is already in service and convert it to their needs.  Otherwise, they can simply buy a used crabbing boat like one of the ones we mentioned earlier.

How to Get a New Crab Boat Built

If you’re looking to buy a brand new crab boat, you may need to look at finding a boat builder.  You’ll need the boat builder to build a crab boat that can handle the type of crabbing you’ll be doing.

For example, a person crabbing in Maryland might not need a boat as capable as a person crabbing off of the Bering Sea.

Next, the boatbuilder will need to account for the number of crab pots, cranes, live tanks, and sorting tables that will be put on the deck.  Even the deck’s position will need to be considered.

For example, some captains like to have the wheelhouse at the stern and some like to have it at the bow.

Finally, you’ll need to consider how long you plan to be at sea.

People looking to stay at sea for long periods of time will want to have berths, multiple heads, and a large amount of storage space for storing food. 

They’ll also want larger fuel tanks and larger water tanks built into the boat.

Another thought to keep in mind is permitting.  In some states, you simply can’t commercially crab without a permit.  If you can’t get a permit, there really isn’t any point in buying an expensive crabbing boat.

For this reason, it is advised that you find out whether or not you can crab before you start looking for a crab boat.

Final Conclusions

Crabbing boats can be fully outfitted for less than $100,000.00.

However, if you’re planning on buying a large crabbing boat, expect to spend a lot of money.

You may end up spending more money on your crabbing boat than most people spend on their yachts.