NEWS: Nunavut September 10, 2012 - 7:02 am

Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker assists nine stranded Nunavut hunters

CCGS Pierre Radisson makes it to Coats Island Sept. 10


(updated at 3:00 p.m.)

At about 9 a.m. Sept. 10, a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Pierre Radisson, had arrived at Coats Island in Hudson Strait where nine hunters from Cape Dorset had been waiting for the ship’s arrival.

“Everyone’s fine,” said Scott Miller, a marine communicator with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., in an early morning interview on Sept. 10.

At that time, Miller could not say whether the Pierre Radisson would pick up the hunters and take them on board or escort them to Coral Harbour through the ice.

The hunters, travelling on two 24-foot boats, were supposed to return to Cape Dorset on Sept. 3, but they became stranded on Coats Island, known as Akpatordjuark in Inuktitut, due to poor weather.

When conditions cleared there Sept. 8,  the hunters attempted to reach Coral Harbour. However, they became stuck in heavy ice about 25 nautical miles from Coats Island.

Finally at about 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, the hunters called for help using a satellite phone. They later activated their SPOT beacon because they were stuck in ice and had no supplies left.

A Hercules C-130 aircraft was dispatched to the scene where it dropped food and a radio to the hunters. The Hercules then directed the hunters back to Coats Island to await the Pierre Radisson.

This is the second rescue mission by a Coast Guard icebreaker in less than a week — although in this case, the hunters decided to stay on Coats Island after they had received more fuel and food from the ship, a Coast Guard spokesperson said.

Five narwhal hunters arrived back in Arctic Bay Sept. 5 on board the Coast Guard icebreaker, the Terry Fox, after they became stranded 40 nautical miles south of Arctic Bay.