For whaling captain Herman Ahsoak of Barrow, the leader of the Quvan Crew, success can come down to preparation -- and he doesn't scrimp.
Most whaling stories that reach the mainstream media emphasize the hunt, the butchering and the communal sharing of the muktuk. Seen less frequently are the hours of preparation that must take place before heading into the Arctic Ocean. Preparing ropes, sharpening ulus and harpoon tips, preparing explosives, checking the boat and its motor, organizing the floats.
Sometimes it pays off. This month was one of those times. On Oct. 4, Ahsoak's crew harvested a 47-foot, 7-inch whale about 12 miles north of Point Barrow on one of the final strikes of the season.