Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 06, 2012 - 6:20 am

Canadian Coast Guard picks up stranded Nunavut narwhal hunters

Five narwhal hunters were running short of fuel about 40 nautical miles south of Arctic Bay

JANE GEORGE
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Terry Fox, was close to Arctic Bay when a group of stranded narwhal hunters needed assistance. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD)
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Terry Fox, was close to Arctic Bay when a group of stranded narwhal hunters needed assistance. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD)

Five narwhal hunters arrived back in Arctic Bay last night on board the Coast Guard icebreaker, the Terry Fox.

Their return to the High Arctic community ended a hunting trip, which was marked by bad weather and could have ended in disaster.

But “everyone was in good shape and no one was injured,” said Cmdr. Liam Piggott, from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, late Sept. 5.

At about 9:30 a.m., on the morning of Sept. 5, the hunters, who had a SPOT tracking device with them, first activated its satellite message system — but at 1:30 p.m., they upped that to an SOS call for help.

The beacon put their position at about 40 nautical miles south of Arctic Bay, Piggott said — too far for local rescue teams to come to their assistance, but close to the location of the Terry Fox, which then headed off in that direction, arriving at the scene about two and half hours later.

Members of the Coast Guard found the hunters and their 18-foot boat on shore where they had been stuck due to deteriorating weather and sea conditions.

“They were supposed to be back three days earlier,” Piggott said.

The group activated the SPOT because their fuel was running low.

The Terry Fox’s zodiac was used to bring everyone back to the ship.

The good luck, said Piggott, is that the icebreaker was so close to the hunters — and that is rarely the case when calls for assistance are made.

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