Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Onboard The Robert Bradford

We were picked-up in the North Arm on Friday by the long-liner Robert Bradford, owned and skippered by brothers Chesley and Joe Webb. That morning, Joe had netted a ringed seal ("natsik" in Inuktituk) and Ches' son Jared baked it in a pie onboard.

When offered some seal, I readily accepted, figuring that the opportunity might not again present itself in this life. I spooned out a hearty helping from the baking dish atop the hot cabin stove and set about the task of eating it. I was urged on by Jared, a young man of large proportions whose round red sea-faring face was all smiles as I dug into the pungent pie. "Do you like it?" he asked. "Mmmh...yeah..." I replied between mouthfuls, not altogether truthfully.

The weather had remained unsettled with occasional showers and the seas were rolling high as we slowly made our way down the fjord and back to the park base camp. The seal was--how should I say?--rather fishy and stringy. And the breaded topping or crust was soaked in dark seal grease. At some point, I vaguely sensed that I best not eat anymore. It might have had something to do with the rolling seas and a vague, though alarmingly persistent, queasiness arising in my belly.

I remembered the Bonine--"for all-day non-drowsy motion sickness relief"-- that I had tucked away in my fanny pack, having previously used it to good effect on our charter flight into the park aboard the Beechcraft King Air. I popped in two tablets of the raspberry flavored chewable pills. Then I gingerly stepped over and strategically positioned myself over the port side of the boat. Fixing my gaze on the horizon, I tasted the greasy seal meat as it rose up in my throat, now mixed with gastric juices. My head swam.

"How much further can it be?" I moaned inwardly. I was certain that I had turned a bilious shade of green. My tent-mate Josh was feeling no better and took refuge up on the deck of the cabin, with the fresh air blowing over the bow full on his face.

At long last I caught a blessed glimpse of the park base camp as we entered the long bay with calmer, sheltered waters ahead. Gary, a park ranger, warmly greeted us when we disembarked. Several of the bear monitors helped us haul our gear up to the tents. Terra firma never felt so good.

It was time for supper. In the mess tent, folks were already lining up for boiled caribou ribs.

Photo Credit: David S. Heald Robert Bradford Anchored In The Bay At Park Base Camp

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