Skin boat seamstress Priscilla Sage sews waterproof seams on the bearded seal skin. Five to nine bearded seal skins will be sewn together to make the traditional whaling boat cover used for spring whaling only. This particular boat used five skins, two of which were extra large.
The bearded seals were harvested last summer and the seal skins were rolled up with seal fat (to help remove the seal fur by rotting). They were stored underneath the houses and then thawed a few days before hand. All of the houses on the North Slope are built on pilings (outsiders say the look like stilts) because the houses cannot touch the ground or else the heat from the house will melt the permafrost and then the house will sink.
~ Mary Sage February 2006