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Posts Tagged ‘new construction’

Construction begins on new bedrooms at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew - Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew – Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

We are already into the new season here at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and as always it starts with the thought that we should build something. This year we are taking on the task of building eight new bedrooms, each of which will feature an incredible view of Hudson Bay.

We opened up the Lodge at the earliest date known by anyone up here and Pat flew us in on May 28 to find six feet of snow on the runway and almost as much in the compound and surrounding areas.

This was good news for the black bear that broke into one of the old cabins because that meant he could come and go as he pleased for the next week while we did everything we could to get rid of all the snow. (Pumping all the remaining water from low spots and spreading ash from our fires on the tallest banks.)

We also spent a significant amount of time with a quad and a blade clearing the runway to be ready for the big Yellow Bird to haul in another 175,000 pounds of lumber and material for the upcoming build.

Two researchers arrived with Albert to guide them and they spent nine days chasing the endangered Knot. They had tagged 100 birds near New Jersey, USA, and they arrived here with trackers in hand along with sample jars and other detection tools.

They managed to get four confirmed hits, which was quite exciting. They also found flocks of the birds as they migrated along the coast. We have kept their tower up and are continuing to help with the ongoing research.

Other than one weathered-in day all the hauling went as planned. We pulled in 18 loads from Gillam in rain and snow and the sun finally came out for the last load. We got off to an early start the next morning, waved goodbye to the pilot and crew, and started hauling gravel to fill the concrete forms Rob had placed in the yard to the east.

Stuart and I are preparing to move some of the other cabins tomorrow to make room for the wing on the west end, matching the wing we are currently prepping for on the east. The eight new rooms, each with massive six foot windows, will be a sight for sure!

We have added a Kubota tractor to the mix this year and we’ve also added a second machine dubbed the Rhino. As of now it’s The Rhino II, or Super Sloth II according to some of our guests.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

The ice to the north on Hudson Bay is split into two sections right now. At high tide we can see broken and scattered icebergs all over the shore and a magnificent white and blue shimmering shelf beyond a kilometer of bright blue water.

We have three black bears frequenting the Lodge on a daily basis and we have also seen moose off to the west in the creek each evening. The geese have come and gone and now the Sandhill cranes are making all kinds of racket while hanging around on their nests.

Black Bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The black bears are here. Polar bears are coming!

The flocks of shorebirds are crazy at this time of near and with the scope or the binoculars you don’t have to look very hard to catch a glimpse of a nest or some bird activity.

The bunnies are rampant in and around the yard, the weasels are cleaning up on spring mice and birds, and we even watched a wolverine foraging down the coast.

Ursus maritimus has not arrived yet. I suspect the abundant sea ice has kept them out hunting for one last meal, just out of our view, but we’re expecting their appearance any day now. The bugs have just started to hatch, so I am sure the DEET will also be required about the same time as the polar bears show up.

Right now, the sun is high in a clear blue sky, the wind sock is flickering in the breeze, and there couldn’t be a better place in the world.

See you soon!

New Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge construction well underway

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Timber-frame lounge/dining room construction well on its way!

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Timber-frame lounge/dining room construction well on its way!

First we had to plan and organize all the building materials, which included lumber, timber frame, plumbing, electrical supplies, solar panels, inverters, a 45 kW generator and more. Then we had to find a way to haul it 110 nautical miles from Gillam to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, along with two construction crews and even more helpers.

After that we could start building the brand new state-of-the-art 24 x 60 shop with a triple phase electrical system. Once the shop was complete we could start on the new Nanuk lounge and dining hall that will be attached to one of the existing buildings and completely renovated into a new kitchen.

Albert, Vinnie and myself were on the apron of the Gillam runway when the bright yellow Bassler BT67 from Cargo North coasted in and rolled to a stop. The modified DC-3 has been stretched approximately 10 feet and has had its power converted from an old radial engine to brand new turbine engines that can haul over 10,000 pounds. Everything from stacks of lumber to the Tundra Rhino were going to fit on this plane.

The Tundra Rhino was custom built by Stewart Reimer to travel the coastline and move up to eight guests at a time. It was 8-wheeler when we started loading and a 2-wheeler by the time we were done, but it fit! We also had less than an inch of space left when the loader put the generator through the door.

Tundra Rhino!

The Tundra Rhino has been tamed!

With a crew of three including myself in Gillam, a front-end loader; the pilot, co-pilot-worker, engineer-worker and another helper; Riley, Karli and four more helpers on the ground at Nanuk; the hauling began. Load after load after load for a total of 18.

Fourteen-hour days ensued and we managed to complete the task of hauling everything in over five days. The only downside to having a plane as large as the modified DC3 that did the hauling was the fact that our runway is only 3,000 feet long and 120 feet wide, which left nowhere for the plane to turn around. We came up with a fun solution for that. See video below.

We are now one month into the project. The shop is built, the power system overhaul is complete and includes 16 235 W solar panels that deliver 4000 W of charging power to the 48-volt battery bank. We also have an eco-friendly 45 kW diesel generator as backup, but the generator rarely runs due to the ample solar power.

The floor is built for the new lounge and the erection of the timber frame has begun. Stewart Reimer is in camp with his trusty helper Ryan and they are working on a list of mechanical repairs an Indy pit crew could not complete in the timeframe I’ve given them: Retro-fit the guest trailers; get the Tundra Rhino up and running; perform maintenance on all five quads; move a bunch of buildings; get the CAT running and clean up the runway.

And it’s all getting done!

We’ve had four-legged visitors almost every day. Seems all the animals on the coast and in the forest want to know what is going on. The workers have to be weary by now of the two polar bears at camp posing for pictures, and I counted at least six more polar bears within 10 km of us during our flight out to Gilliam.

There have been multiple black bears on site and Ivan recently got us all up from coffee to check out two 6-foot tall yearling moose twins standing beside a pile of lumber. Riel also managed to call a young black wolf right up to the fence.

There are never ending chirps to wake us at 4:30 a.m. so we are never late getting started. And the weasels and bunnies are a common site all through the evening as we sit outside enjoying the smell of the fresh salt air.

But enough chit-chat for now, there are things to do. We have an incredible combination of crew and family working on this project, doing what they love to do. By the end of August, when the first guests arrive at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, we will have a very special experience waiting for them.

Something that only Churchill Wild can provide.

Panoramic landscape at Nanuk. Click for larger image.

Panoramic landscape at Nanuk.