Thursday, February 8, 2007

More Under the Ice - for Fun!

After sharing our supper with the Inuit family, I played with their adopted son who in turn played with his set of new puppies. This boy had been adopted in the old way by a simple arrangement with friends or family. In this case, the adopting parents had already raised one family and had adopted another child who would act in a way as their 'old age security'. Thus, as the boy grew up, he would gradually take over the hunting from his father and take care of both parents in their old age. This was the common way old people were taken care of in the old days. The myth of setting old people adrift on an ice floe was just that: a myth! Speaking of which, can you see the ermine tails attached to this child's parka? They are there to ward off evil. As nothing evil happened to the child the whole time we were there, I can only assume they work!

The house in the picture was typical Inuit housing back in the 1960's. Houses like these were the first generation provided to Inuit familes. They where shipped up in prefabricated panels and assembled on site. Ten years later, multi-room homes were being built and today, houses in the north look much like they do in southern Canada.

The next morning we headed back out to the shack to go diving. The idea was to take some small gill nets with us and set them up to see what we could catch over the next several days. We would dive twice a day and check them to see what had been caught. When we got to the shack we discovered that our wet suits - 1/2 inch neoprene, with doubled layers around our body cores - were solid blocks of rubber thanks to the cold temperatures! They were too stiff to be removed from the packing box without breaking them...

We set up a two burner Coleman stove and used it to heat the shack and its contents. It didn't take very long before the small space was up to 25°C so we stripped down to be ready to suit up. We had to keep our boots on as the air temperature dropped well below zero just a few inches off the floor. Gradually the wet suits warmed up and could be removed from the box. We then put them on and poured some warm water down our necks, front and back, to have a layer of warm water inside the suits before entering the water. While this was going on, the non-diver member of our team used an ice chisel to break through the newly formed ice in the hole we'd made the previous night.

Finally, with all ready to go, tanks checked, weights strapped on, safety lines attached, underwater lights rigged, we entered the water. In was a bizarre wonder-world indeed!

I'll continue tomorrow...


Silbs said...

Geez, Michael. This is wonderful writing and beautiful photography; but, if you are going into that frigid water, I am going to need long underware and fleece on to read the next installment.

bonnie said...


ps speaking of brr, I did make it to Turner & Cheri show last night. You were right, that's a great presentation they've put together.