“It was a really big deal,” Evaluarjuk told the National Post. “The boat was quite expensive for us. We had a canoe before that, with a motor on it. I had been going walrus and caribou hunting with my dad for as long as I could remember.”
The family was away on a weekend hunting trip when a storm unmoored the boat. When they returned to their home in the small town of Igloolik, the boat had vanished. Eventually, the Evaluarjuks and got a new boat, though it was more modest than the 24-foot aluminum vessel they had lost.
“We thought that that was the end of our boat,” Evaluarjuk said. “We thought it must be at the bottom of the ocean.”
Even with modern technology, a number of ships sink or otherwise go missing each year. In 2012 alone, 67 vessels were reported to have sunk, grounded or gone missing. In April 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard sank a Japanese “ghost ship” that was spotted floating aimlessly, presumably swept away in the wake of the tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.
But as it turns out, while the Evaluajruks' boat was still missing, it was far from lost. In the summer of 2012, a team of polar bear researchers showed up at the family’s hotel, located on a small island near Canada’s Bafffin Island.
While on an expedition, the polar bear researchers spotted a large, shiny object beached on a tiny nearby island. They landed to investigate and found that the object was actually the long-missing vessel.
"They spotted a light, so they turned around," Evaluarjuk told the CBC. "They took pictures of it, and sure enough it was our boat."
And it was still in workable condition, albeit a little worse for wear.
“Polar bears had broken the windows, but otherwise it was as good as new. So we shined it up and towed it home,” Evaluarjuk said.
It was also an emotional moment for Evaluarjuk, whose parents had died between the time the boat was lost and its rediscovery. The returned boat was a big deal for the family's tightly knit community, too — many showed up to welcome the vessel back home.
“We brought it in at 11 p.m. It was still light. A lot of people came down to the beach to meet us. It was the talk of the community,” Evaluarjuk said.
- Recreational Watercraft