For now, we are the only boat anchored in Arctic Bay. On land, everyone greets us. They all propose their help. Truck drivers, policemen or even simple pedestrians in the street: “Where do you come from?”
“Do you need any help?”
Amazing people. We still remember fondly the unexpected welcome offered by these two police officers during our clearance. I guess it’s the same in any isolated outpost where life is harsh and weather un-forgetting . To survive, people need each other help. This community spirit surprises us, folks from the easy and more individualistic south.
To do a real and serious repair on Breskell’ wounds, I need some good plasters. In my mind, I see this “Band Aid” with the same sandwich technic that the one used at sea. I plan to add a new material to reinforce my wood bandage : a metal of some sort. Aluminium would be the best. Two birds in one shot. A good dressing first with an added shield to protect the hull against growlers. Only the first two feet of the bow are exposed to growlers’ punch. Where to shop for these parts? Eric comes with a good suggestion. “We should go and ask Kim the guy I met on the beach during my investigative mission in Victor bay.”
Kim is a carpenter and former boat-builder from Nova Scotia. As always, Kim offered help with his address in Arctic Bay . One simple number, “336”, without any street name.
When you inhabit Arctic Bay, you don’t need street names. No street name and sometime not even streets, just unpaved alleys. No way to get lost in this outpost. Luckily, Kim added that the last house of the village was his own. Easy. Except that with every main street, even in small villages, you have two ends in the Main Street . Evidently, the “336” is not on our side. Wrong end! We ask a woman. “Sorry she said, I have no idea. It’s probably a stranger living on the other side of the village”. And she added: “I never get out of my house”.
She is right. Why not playing safe in this dangerous world. Headlines, in the morning news, fool around the same story. “Yes, ma’am, the other side of this Main is definitely unknown territory. We understand perfectly and even share your legitimate apprehensions. Keep your door closed, ma’am, and a sharp look-out from your windows. Terrorists conceal everywhere even on the ice-sheet, often hidden behind a walrus’s back. If it’s in the news, it had to be true… Not “fake news” here. Watch out .
Hard to miss the other end of the village. As expected, there is also a last house, this one with the right number “336”. We knock. A guy shows up, short, grey haired, a small mustache and a wide smile illuminating his face. Kim recognizes Eric immediately. I introduce myself. We expose our needs. We have to patch not one but two holes resulting from two good blows delivered by our fighting partners in the Arctic: the growlers.
“Sadly no West Marine here said Kim. Lets go right now to Canadian Tire. And there is also a Wal-Mart close by. Well stocked both of them. They should have all your parts and much more, all of that at bargain price”.
The smile was even bigger in his face. Sweet people all of them.
“I will drop you there. I have to return to work, I am on my lunch time”.
- Thank you so much Kim. Don’t worry. We will come back walking or hitch-hiking.
The smile, if possible, grows even bigger, a full sun shining in the middle of a jubilant face.
“It’s a bit away and you may feel isolated. As you know, big stores need a lot of parking space…”
- Doesn’t matter, we can walk, I reply.
Kim drives now on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. Turns right, turns left, and soon we realise we are out-of-the-way and off the beaten track. Still no advertisement in what looks like a very remote location. Strange? No. We are in Nunavut. They do things differently here. We travel also to be surprised. And surprised, we were.
“Here said Kim, face radiant and eyes sparkling. On the right our Nunavut Canadian Tire. Just in front our Arctic Bay Wal-Mart. As much choices as in your own stores south with a difference: here all is free in our junkyard. Help yourself ”
Laughing like crazy, we thank Kim and reassure him. Yes, we can walk 2 or 3 hours to get back to the boat. And yes, the choice is better than what expected. A well stocked junkyard with all kind of useful goods. Being free is an added bonus for our shopping.
Naturally for you, average city dwellers driving to West Marine for all your boat needs, a junkyard could be destabilizing. Eric is not your average passive city consumer. It’s my « navy seal in training ». In unknown and remote territory, I have to teach him the survival skills needed by this elite force. Diving in icy water, climbing bare handed along a swinging mast belong to the physical capacities needed in most military branches. Muscles mainly. Navy seals need more, much more: an adaptive brain. To work on that skill, my prescribed task for today: from a washing machine, a dishwasher, a dryer or even a discarded computer, get the parts needed to make my boat autopilot works again. Not having to prove anything myself, my personal assignment is easier: some scraps of metal or aluminium.
Thirty minutes later, treasures in hand, we plan to get back to town.
Eric, always on the qui vive , points to the dump truck. The driver is emptying it. “Why not hitch-hike it for our return journey?”
- Are you crazy man, I reply. They will not take us us. A big liability problem, lawyers ready to jump from the leftover junk in the back to sue us for whatever reason that makes sense only to lawyers.
“Why not ask urges Eric?”
Strong minded this fellow. Together we devise a strategy. We start walking slowly toward town watching our back for the truck leaving the junkyard. They get very close but seemly without any intent to stop. As soon as I realize that, I lift my thumb, showing clearly our goals . Right away, the driver brakes and stops. Opening his door, we tell him our destination.
“Jump in”. They were two of them in the cab. We squeeze ourselves in for the ride back to Arctic Bay. These fellows have both a sympathetic Inuit face, large smiles and mouths with bad teeth. They are really happy and proud to carry these foreigners in their dump truck. In turn, we enjoy immensely the ride even if it’s a scary one. The guy drives pretty fast on this narrow one line dirt road. We speed toward Arctic Bay. As a reassuring though, I keep remembering what our friend, Jessy the police officer, told us: ” there is no accident here”. He was right again this time. Soon enough, they drop us right on the beach, in front of Breskell. Together, we burst again laughing crazily. No better and amazing way to return than this speedy dump truck ride with those two smiling Innu.
Back to work after our shopping in the local mall. Eric adapts his electronic dishwasher parts on my autopilot. For me, it’s small normal working maintenance here and there with later a huge task: and endless patchwork with my mainsail which seem at the end of a long and productive life.
And what about the “Passage”?
For now plugged for good. No way to move. A good time for us to plug another thing: our double holes in Breskell’s hull.