Stranded Nunavut hunters drag boat, make raft, to save themselves
Group of seven from Arctic Bay home safe
A group of seven hunters made it home safely to Arctic Bay July 16 after being stranded on an ice floe for two days.
A group of hunters, travelling with snowmobiles, qamutiks and a boat, left to go narwhal hunting in Admiralty Inlet last weekend, when the floe edge they were on broke off July 14.
“We were kinda scared when we heard the ice cracking up into small pieces,” said Tom Naqitarvik, one of the seven hunters who had been stranded since July 14.
The hunters spent two days drying wet clothing and bedding and trying to get some sleep while they waited for search and rescue to arrive with help. The group had been separated from their snowmobiles when the ice floe broke off, but still had four qamutiks with supplies.
Mild temperatures and rain caused heavy fog over the region which thwarted rescue efforts by grounding two rescue helicopters sent from Pond Inlet and Resolute Bay July 15.
By July 16, Naqitarvik said the group was tired of waiting and decided to attempt the 30-mile trek home.
First, they dragged their 12-foot boat over a kilometre or so of sea ice. Once they reached open water, some of the hunters got into the boat and then the rest were towed along on a makeshift raft, made with pieces of plastic and rope.
When they reached land, they were exhausted, Naqitarvik said, and used their HF radio to call for help. Soon after, the hunters were picked up by snowmobile and arrived back in Arctic Bay about 6:00 p.m.
Naqitarvik was grateful to be home; the first thing he did was eat a big meal.
“Some of us were pretty hungry,” he said.
Arctic Bay’s hunters and trappers organization has closed access to the floe edge for now until conditions improve.