TYPE: 128-foot house aft
KING CRAB CAPACITY: 312,000 lbs
BUILT: 1989 — Alabama
CATCH SEASONS: 1 to 7 and 10
Built in 1989, the original Cornelia Marie had an extensive rebuild in 1995 that added 21 feet to her overall length and increased her catch holding capacity to one of the highest for a crabber. She is named after Cornelia Marie Devlin, a former co-owner of the boat who handled much of the daily business of the boat's operation.
The Cornelia Marie's twin Mitsubishi engines generate 630 horsepower for a top speed of around 10 knots but they've often been an engineer's — and a captain's — worst nightmare. The Cornelia Marie has always been a boat under severe mechanical and emotional strain.
Captain Phil Harris had an incredibly close relationship with the Cornelia Marie and its crew. Whenever an issue arose with either, he was usually able to get to the root of the problem and attempt a fix.
On February 9, 2010, after three decades at the helm, the legendary captain passed away, leaving his sons — Josh and Jake Harris — and former crew to try to fend for themselves on the Bering Sea crab grounds.
In the 2010 King crab season, veteran Derrick Ray took the helm as the Cornelia Marie's relief captain but intense friction with the crew compelled him to leave. During the mid-season break, the Harris brothers invited another veteran Tony Lara to sit in the captain's chair for the 2011 Opie season. Tony had the advantage of a deep familiarity with the boat — he worked on it for many years back in the 1990s — but after Opies, the boat ended up being tied to the dock for a full year.
Now, a new era shines over the vessel as the Cornelia Marie is finally headed back to the fishing grounds. Casey McManus now captains the Cornelia, and with new owner Josh Harris by his side learning the ropes and a fresh crew on deck, they feel set up for success.
Josh isn’t the only owner of the Cornelia Marie — his brother Jake also has a share, though it remains to be seen if the younger Harris will return to the family trade. Still, at least one Harris has realized that it’s time to get his act together.