Building the house up here has been a wealth of fodder for stories, and the crew has been, uh, entertaining if nothing else. Gary and I keep saying that we have to start writing these down, which brings us to this post. The names in this post have been changed to protect the guilty, the innocent don't need protection.
We arrived back in Arctic Bay on August 28th from our failed attempt to bring our boat, the Fort Hearne, through the Northwest Passage from Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) in the western Arctic. We arrived here the same day as our sealift and hit the ground running. We had to get an entire house worth of material (some 267 metric tonnes) to the site from the landing site (about a kilometre). It was important that the material was organized in some fashion, not just stacked willy nilly at the site. There would be no point in having say drywall which we still haven't used, stacked on top of our 2x6 and 2x4 lumber which would be used early in the construction. The local heavy equipment contractor had already begun dropping material off by the time we got to Arctic Bay. After a couple of days of this, we were ready to bring in the crew I had hired. A couple of the guys I hired were young men, who had been attending first year carpentry the previous year. The idea was that they would have learned the basic skills and be full of enthusiasm for their new career. Learning that they were two of only three of the class to pass the First Year carpentry course in Iqaluit was reassuring that we had made the right choice. That reassurance was quick to fade away Monday morning.
Monday morning the crew began to show up. Gary had made his plans on who was going to do what and where. Paul and Mike (remember these are not their real names), our graduates, arrived ready to get started. Except they had no tools with them, no hammer, no tape measure, no carpenters belt, the basic equipment one needs to work construction. Gary asked them if they had any tools, to which they quickly replied that they did... at home. So back they went home to get their belts, hammers and tape measures. Okay a half hour later we're ready to get started, right? No not really, Paul returns with his equipment and after a little bit asks Gary how the carpenter's belt works. First Year carpentry is starting to fade in our estimation. Gary starts giving assignments and now work begins. He sends a couple of our crew to get 2x6's to start cutting them into studs for the walls. Another problem, "what's a 2X6?". By this time we're thinking "What the heck did they teach at First year carpentry?" A short time later, Gary has half the crew huddled around him while he explains what the different marks are on the tape measures. But by this time we had begun to make some progress at the site.
I should also point out that at this point in my life I had never built anything in my life so there are crew stories about me also, but its my weblog, so you'll only get the highlites.
A final story from the first day. Later in the day, Gary tasked Paul with building a stand for the mitre saw. He carefully explained how it was to be built telling Paul to glue and nail it for strength. Paul set to work and built a very nice stand for the saw, and proudly got Gary to show him. Gary told him he did a nice job, but when he examined the stand closer couldn't find any joints that had been glued. When he asked Paul, he simply replied "Oh you wanted me to glue it BEFORE I nailed it?"