Sunday, January 19, 2014

Third of Nine Lives Used Up

         I  guess if you live an adventurous life you will meet with some risks. This experience really shocked and sobered me.

         In Northern Quebec I lived on a beautiful bay that was 24 miles deep. There were extremely high tides as it was just off Hudson Strait.

         The Inuit hunted seals and somebody came in everyday with a few seals. In the summer they were able to go out with  a boat and shoot a seal in the water. The seal sticks its head above water to watch you. The seal head is about the size of a saucer so you have to be highly skilled to have success.The nineteen year old Hudson Bay manager wanted to go hunting seals and he talked me into going with him. We had seen Inuit shoot seals and it looked like a good challenge. We borrowed a canoe, motor and rifle. Mistake number one. We didn't know what shape this equipment was in.

         Now mistake number two was to go out by ourselves. We had no experience hunting seals. Any Inuit would have been honored to take us out. I was a prairie boy and had no ocean experience so I depended on this Newfy kid to know what we were doing on the water. I was 25 and he probably thought I had some maturity that would keep us out of trouble.

       Mistake number three was to go out to the strait when the tide was coming in. The tide came in with a current of 10 - 12 mile per hour current. This meant that it would take much longer to get out to the strait as we were going against the current.

       Mistake number four was to go out to the Strait to find seals. There were lots of seals in the bay. We didn't have to go out to the open water.

      We got out to the strait and started looking for seals. There was a four foot swell but that was not a problem. We roared around and saw the odd seal. We shot at the seals but didn't hurt any of them. With the four foot swell your boat was rising and falling four feet. Also the seal was moving up and down on the swell. So you can imagine that it's a very hard shot to get a seal.

     We then saw an area that had lots of seals so we roared over thinking that we would be in luck with this many seals. Remember the four foot swells. All of a sudden, among the seals we suddenly saw huge black things emerge from the water. My buddy screamed rocks and yelled to reverse and get out of there. If we'd gone in among the rocks and crashed down on a rock the canoe would have been kindling. We were a mile from shore. In the icy Arctic water we would have lasted only a few minutes. Fortunately, we had not gone far enough to be in the rocks. So mistake number five was to not watch for rocks even though we were a mile off shore.

    We quickly decided we had enough seal hunting and started for home. We were a couple of sober serious boys for that ride home. Mistake number six was to go home when the tide was going out of the bay so it was a long ride home because we were against the current..

    I really was shaken by this experience as there was no room for error. This one experience I will never forget.