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East County Wednesday, Jun. 24, 2009 8 years ago

'Deadliest Catch' captain drops anchor in Ranch

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — When Capt. Keith Colburn traded his budding culinary career in California for the Bering Sea in 1985, he sought many things: hard work, fortune, adventure and more.

But not fame. Never fame.

“It’s overwhelming at times,” said Colburn, one of the captains featured on Discovery Channel’s wildly popular “Deadliest Catch” series. “In one respect, it’s humbling to have people coming up to me all the time and to meet the fans of the boat, but it is overwhelming. It’s complicated our lives.”

 But don’t take that to mean Colburn isn’t grateful. Since he boarded the “Deadliest Catch” cast in 2007, Colburn has used his fame to help a plethora of charities and causes. This weekend, he will return to Manatee/Sarasota for one of his favorites — the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival June 27 through July 5.

Colburn will be the featured guest at the festival’s Block Party July 1 on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Attendees also will be able to attend a private party at The Polo Grill’s Fête Ballroom. At the private party, Colburn will host a question-and-answer session, sign autographs and take photos with guests.

The block party is free; limited tickets for the private party are $10, and ticket sales will benefit the Suncoast Foundation for the Handicapped Inc., a nonprofit organization that has built more than $14 million in facilities for organizations that assist residents with special needs.

Colburn first lent his celebrity to the event last year and returns to the area with his son.

“This festival and the Suncoast Foundation is so worthwhile, and I really enjoy being able to help out,” Colburn said. “This event is great. It’s great for families, and it’s an even better event for guys and their sons.”

A first-generation fisherman, Colburn is known on the show for his painstakingly thorough research and meticulous work ethic. His vessel, The Wizard, converted from a 1944 Navy yard-oiler, is consistently one of the top producers on the show.

“I do an immense amount of work prior to the season,” Colburn said.  

Starting with a July survey of the water, Colburn examines water temperature charts, recent trends and past experiences to form his strategy for the upcoming crabbing seasons.

Then, he said, once he’s on the water, it’s a constant pursuit of the crabs.

“I’m not after nailing the crabs right away; I just want a hint,” he said. “King crab can move 10-12 miles a day, and you can be the biggest hero one day and a goat the next.

“Once you find them, it’s about staying with them,” Colburn said.

In addition to his research, Colburn said his relationship with his beloved boat has helped him not only find success at sea but also keep his crew safe.

“Any captain that has been on a boat long enough will begin to learn that boat’s personality,” he said. “Every boat has its strengths and weaknesses, and you have to learn how to work with those. You have to become one with your boat to achieve your goal.

“It sounds strange, but if you’re with a boat long enough, you begin to have an intimate experience,” he said. “The boat will talk to me, tell me if she’s cranky or pissy or good.”

Fans of the “Deadliest Catch” love the show for its drama, danger and sense of adventure — the same things that attracted Colburn to the crabbing industry in the first place.

“The hardest thing — I would have to say it’s enduring the fatigue,” Colburn said of crabbing. “There’s so many things that are hard — the elements, the boat, the temperatures, the weather, the work — but ultimately it all leads to fatigue.”

“(But) there’s something about Alaska that captures the imagination,” he said. “It’s the last frontier. There’s just something sort of mystical about that state of Alaska. It’s incredibly rugged, and it has captivated me for 25 years.”

Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].

Super Boat Grand Prix Festival Block Party
WHEN: 6-9 p.m., July 1. A welcome party will be held from 6-7 p.m.
WHERE: Lakewood Ranch Main Street
COST: Block party is free. Tickets to the welcome party are $10
BENEFICIARY: Suncoast Foundation for the Handicapped Inc.
TICKETS: [email protected] or call 757-1548

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