Peter Semotiuk

The OCC Award of Merit - 2014

For his valuable weather and ice prediction radio service to sailors transiting the NW Passage as well as organising rescues when needed

As a child, Peter Semotiuk walked three and a half miles to school each way, every day, in the -40F temperatures of the Manitoba winters, and in a corner of the world with untamed bush and prairie and no roads. Despite or in spite of this he grew up with a fascination for the Arctic, and wondered what it would be like there.

He spent his high school years building and firing homemade rockets; after graduation he attended the Manitoba Institute of Technology and then went to work in the aerospace industry. However the Far North kept calling to him and he obtained a job as radician on the newly built and, at the time, on the cutting edge of technology, Distant Early Warning Line.

In his spare time he took an interest in boats attempting to transit the Northwest Passage, and began to keep in contact with them via marine and amateur radio. He learned to sail, and then was invited to be part of the crew of John Bockstoce’s yacht Belvedere when it went through the Passage, a difficult expedition that started in 1983 and finished in 1988.

With the gradual opening of the ice and the increased traffic in the Passage he found there was a vital need for sailors to have information on the weather and ice conditions, which can change rapidly and dangerously, as well as backup support for supplies and repairs and rescue if needed, and this became an avocation which often requires hours of his time each day.

He was in the Arctic for most of the years from the mid 1960s until 2011 [Resolute, Gjoa Haven, Cambridge Bay (SSB 6224 kHz? at 0030Z)], and now lives in Winnipeg, Canada. He still scrutinizes the daily ice charts and continues to keep in contact with boats through radio, email, or satellite phone.