Ichiban and 'a few jokes here and there' sustained crew on board the MV Lafferty

·2 min read

This past Monday, captain Graham Cox was doing some soundings at the slipway where he normally hauls the MV Lafferty out of the Liard River at the end of the season.

To get the measurements he needed, he had to move into some dense ice.

"Some of the ice got into the tunnel, which is where the propulsion comes from the propeller," Cox said, "and that had jammed up so we lost power on one engine and it started drifting."

The result was nearly three days on board a daytime passenger ferry by Fort Simpson, N.W.T, waiting for help to break through the ice.

Reached by a reporter to tell his story Friday, Cox had just one question: "What's going on with the [U.S.] election at this point?"

GNWT/Department of Infrastructure
GNWT/Department of Infrastructure

The ferry had stopped its seasonal passenger service the previous Sunday.

That left just the crew, on a daytime boat with no sleeping area.

"For me it's nothing new 'cause I've worked for the Coast Guard, and … tugboats," said Cox, who's spent 15 years captaining the Lafferty. "But to the other guys it was."

"We got sick of Ichiban."

The time passed quickly, what with keeping the generator going for light and heat, and preparing the lines that would eventually take the boat safely out of the river.

"And then, you know, a few jokes here and there never hurt."

A few jokes here and there never hurt. - captain Graham Cox

On day three, two men from Arctic Response arrived with a skiff that they used to pull the crew off the ice.

"Actually I pulled us off with a winch and then I pulled the relief crew back on with the winch," Cox said.

Once the ferry was unstuck, and piloted out of the river by the relief captain, Cox was able to pilot it up the hill where it now rests for the winter.

The ferry, Cox said, was never more than 100 or 200 meters from where it was supposed to be.

"What we had to do was break the ice to get there," Cox said. "Once the ice was smashed the other motor started up again."

No one was ever in danger, Cox said, and no serious damage was sustained.

Except "a little bit to the ego."

Cox says nearly 20 people helped fix the situation.

In particular, he thanked his crew, Danny Peterson and Josh Allen, and the relief crew, captain Mervin Simba, James Tsetso and Ivor Cli-Norwegian.

With the ordeal behind him, Cox is now en route to his home, in Gimli, Manitoba.