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Tugging with the trappers

Suvukti a veteran work boat

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 23/02) - Some ships are built for business, some for pleasure and some are a combination of the two.

The Suvukti is a straight-out work boat and her rugged steel structure gives that away right off.

NNSL photo

Richard Dick has been the captain of the E. Gruben's Transport barge Suvukti for five years. - Terry Halifax/NNSL photos

The barge is captained by Tuk's Richard Dick, who has been at the wheel for five years now.

Dick said he took up the life of a sailor, when he got bored with fixing planes.

"After 32 years of being an aircraft mechanic I got tired of it, so I wanted to try something different," Dick said.

The ship is powered by two 3208 Caterpillar diesel engines and Dick said, "she handles real good, like a real ship should."

About 20 years ago, the barge was built for oil field work further south on the big river.

"It used to be in Norman Wells, shuttling people back and forth to the island," Dick said. "It belonged to Jimmy Gordon then and he had the contract with Esso."

E. Gruben's Transport bought the Suvukti to move freight and equipment, but last summer she was chartered out to do seismic work.

This year, she'll be working along the North coast.

"We're going to use it to shuttle back and forth to Tuk on the DEW Line cleanup," he said.

The boat barges freight and equipment, but also serves as the barge for Gruben's Arctic Star floating camp.

The Suvukti navigates with radar, GPS, and has Coast Guard radio on board as well, but the captain insists on an additional radio.

"I've also got a trapper radio," he laughs.

"I can stay in touch with all the trappers."

Following some work done on her two rudders, the Suvukti set sail for the DEW Line site at Army Camp on Monday to haul in equipment.

Even when the weather turns foul, Dick said, the heater keeps him and his lone deck hand warm and the trappers keep them company tugging around the Delta.

"I'm happy with it," the captain smiles.