Sunday, August 28, 2011

Busy Bay

This past week has been quite busy in the bay with 3 cruise ships arriving, private yachts, many sail boats and the most important thing our first barge of the season.  It just so happened that it was the barge that had our order.  The day before I arrived home from YK was the day that our two crates full of a year supply of goodies arrived on our driveway.  Craig unpacked everything by himself and I am still organizing everything in the house.  How does one store a year supply of toilet paper?

Jim and Sheila had some family here for a visit so the four of them plus Craig, Les and I headed across the bay to do some fishing by The Maud.  Craig found his 'happy rock' and was catching cod left, right and centre.  Sheila was at the other side and she too was catching cod.  Les and I decided to move closer to Craig and that's where the jackpot of cod was.  Kerry the brother in law of Jim and Sheila's finally caught his first fish and his wife Linda was there with her camera to capture the moment.  We released many fish that night but did bring home some for the next day's dinner.  There is nothing like fresh cod pan fried in butter.

The following night Craig decided to finally head over to Jim & Sheila's to pick up the remaining of our barge order but was home within minutes telling me to hurry and get my boots on and get my camera gear as there was a pod of Narwhals in the bay.  We watched them and then followed the crowd upstream and across the bay as the hunters had captured a whale.  Elders told me that it has been since the late '60s since Narwhals were here so everyone was excited to see one.  Like many in the community this was my first time seeing one and actually touching it.  They are a beautiful black and white whale with velvet skin to the touch.  Once the community got a first hand look and feel for the whale the men started cutting off the muttuk. For those of you who do not know muttuk is whale blubber.   At one point this elder woman came in with her ulu knife and showed these men how to do it.  I did get a chance to talk to her while she was cutting and she said it has been about 6 years since she had the opportunity to cut.  There was a small pod of Belugas here at that time.  After the muttuk was cut people came with their plastic bags for their share.  Everyone seemed excited to have some and yes I tried it as an elder man handed me a small piece while I was standing there taking pictures.  I had mixed feelings regarding the hunt but I do understand that this will feed a community that relies on taking off the land and waters around Cambridge Bay.  In a way I felt honoured to be involved and when handed a plastic bag I got in line to receive my share of muttuk.  The following day we planned on heading out to our fishing camps so I knew the fishermen would appreciate a piece of it.  I found out today that the town of Taloyoak gave the Cambridge Bay hunters their 10 tags to hunt the whales and in return Cambridge Bay will supply the people of Taloyoak and maybe some other communities with whale meat. 

At work Stephane and I have been patiently waiting for the Arctic char to start their run, the 8 fishermen have been out at Ekalluk River for a week with no luck.  Finally today we received one load in from them.  We have two crews out, one at Ekalluk and one at Halovik.  We wanted to check out the camps again before the harvest so on Friday Stephane, Little Annie and I got on the plane again and headed out with James as our pilot again.  We spent some time on the island at Ekalluk talking to the fishermen and visiting with their families who were out for the weekend.  Annie and I went for a walk around the island and she pointed out where the caribou come through and where she caught her first wolverine.  From there we headed across Wellington Bay to Halovik River where we met Brent and his crew.  Les is also there with his crew doing  research on the Arctic char.  I really love this area with it's rugged terrain on one side of the river and the sandy beaches on the other.  Across the river there were 3 muskox and in the river we seen a seal.  We left everyone close to 7pm that evening and came home satisfied and tired.

Viewer discretion is advised as I have included some of the whale hunt
 in the 50 some odd pictures posted tonight.

Talk soon!
 Craig and his new boat

The first barge of the season
Our crates from the barge
Huge private yacht with a crew of 18 and a helipad
 View from the bottom of our street, two German cruise ships in the bay
 One of the German cruise ships
Les arriving back from Little Surrey River
DFO crew unloading one of the planes
Game nite at Jim and Sheila's
Craig and Sheila
Fishing the traditional way
Cleaning the night's catch with her ulu knife
Kerry, Sheila's brother-in-law with his catch and The Maud in the background
Les with his huge catch of cod
Les fishing by The Maud and Cambridge Bay in the background
The Famous Maud
Flying into Kugluktuk
Another view from the plane, raining in Kugluktuk
One of the many visitors sailing into the bay
Another sailor
A pod of Narwhals in the bay
The whale hunters out
Their first catch
Cutting the muttuk into rectangles
Cutting more muttuk
Then it was the women's turn to cut the meat with their ulu knives
No time to take off her helmet
Handing out the muttuk to the community
We are in one plane taking off while this one was heading into the bay
View of the tundra and waters
This was a large herd of muskox that we seen from the plane, about 20 in the herd in total
One of the fishermen's cabins at Ekalluk River with dry fish hanging
Arctic char drying
This is the fishermen's cook house and dining room at Ekalluk River
We invited Annie to come with us
Our head fisherman, Andy Mala, at Ekalluk River
Two of our contracted fishermen making a net
Stephane and Annie posing with the piffy (pronounced biffy: dry fish)

Andrea with James our pilot
I think James wanted to keep these cuties
Andrea, Andy's grandchild
Flying to Halovik River
 Landed safely at Halovik
 Sample of the Arctic char at Halovik River
 The men checking out the Arctic char
 Les' camp across the river
 James and Les
 The view from the river
 The beach area at Halovik
 One of the muskox across the river
 Two more muskox across the river
 Beautiful landscape heading back to CamBay
North Warning System site (the one with the white radar domes) and our airport
 A fly by of our tower
West side of Cambridge Bay, the long all blue building on your left is where I work