Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 17, 2014 - 12:40 pm

Stranded Nunavut hunters drag boat, make raft, to save themselves

Group of seven from Arctic Bay home safe

SARAH ROGERS
A group of hunters pull their boat over sea ice in Admiralty Inlet as they attempt to get back to Arctic Bay. (PHOTO BY TOM NAQITARVIK)
A group of hunters pull their boat over sea ice in Admiralty Inlet as they attempt to get back to Arctic Bay. (PHOTO BY TOM NAQITARVIK)

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.

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(8) Comments:

#1. Posted by snapshot on July 17, 2014

Ajungi, teach those anti-smartup-huntingiseasy-randomshooters commentors how its done.

#2. Posted by Amazed on July 17, 2014

Wow, that’s a great story.  I would have curled into a ball and cried for my Mom in that situation.  Glad everyone is safe.

#3. Posted by smart on July 17, 2014

Smart hunters, hunters have to be prepared for everything. sewing skills, cooking skills etc… they all had that and good quick thinking. I wonder if there are on going courses for these for young/soon to be hunters everywhere. oh, from our elders-duh.

#4. Posted by Yep on July 17, 2014

Yep, only elders would have known the effects of full moon on winds, tides and currents and the susceptibility of floe edge break-up around full moon time. 

How often do our young people follow patterns nowadays that our elders did for centuries ? Likely less than 5%.

Gosh, didn’t Arctic Kingdom, clients and guides have to be rescued last year caused by sudden ice break up due to strong full moon effects ?

#5. Posted by Trapper Don on July 17, 2014

What happened to the snowmobiles?

#6. Posted by concerned on July 17, 2014

Happening way too often up there. Not cheap mounting a search and rescue.

#7. Posted by george on July 18, 2014

I heard the radio interview that an elder advised them not to go with the ice conditions, but they went anyway.

#8. Posted by Pilipuusi on July 18, 2014

Good on them for making it back to land safely by themselves. Let us celebrate those who come home safe and sound.
There are sometimes instances where only a body comes home or is never found.

And #6, there was no search.

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