Thanks to efforts at the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu

Japanese boat swept away in 2011 tsunami reunited with its owner in Klemtu

Scallop fisherman Kou Sasaki, of Ofunato, Japan, crossed the Pacific Ocean last week to arrive in the tiny village of Klemtu

Scallop fisherman Kou Sasaki, of Ofunato, Japan, crossed the Pacific Ocean last week to arrive in the tiny village of Klemtu where his trusty fishing vessel was waiting for him.

Sasaki’s boat was swept out to sea four years ago when the tsunami struck his village. It drifted thousands of miles across the pacific, along with one million tonnes of debris, in the aftermath of the disaster which killed over 15,000 people in Japan on March 11, 2011.

After its lengthy journey, the boat arrived in Klemtu, where it was salvaged by a guide at the Spirit Bear Lodge in 2013. They cleaned it up for use in their bear-viewing tours, where tourists from all over the world come to view the famed Spirit Bears.

Tim McGrady, manager of the Spirit Bear Lodge, was curious about the vessel and had made some initial efforts to find the owner, but he didn’t get very far.

But last year a Japanese guest Yoshi Karasawa translated the boat’s name, “Twin Pines,” and was intrigued enough to spread the word to her contacts in her homeland. Sasaki was located and plans were set in motion to bring him to the tiny village to be reunited with his beloved boat.

“They keep meticulous records in Japan and she was able to track it down by its numbers,” said McGrady. “It took about a year to get him here and it was really fun, really worthwhile.”

Karasawa, the fisherman and his wife made the long trek to Klemtu last week and stayed for two nights at the Spirit Bear Lodge. It made for some emotional moments when Sasaki saw his boat again. He jumped into its bow and began to weep, saying “We are together again.”

The community of Klemtu came together to welcome Sasaki and his wife, taking them for a bear-viewing tour on his boat, and performing a welcoming and blessing ceremony in the Big House for their special guests. Sasaki and his wife were fortunate to view the spirit bears, witness spawning salmon, and experience the magic of the B.C. coast.

“This is a community that lives and breathes boats, for thousands of years,” McGrady said. “So I think people have a real affinity for someone like Mr. Sasaki. There’s a lot of common ground.”

While Sasaki thoroughly enjoyed his reunion with his boat and his visit to Klemtu, there are no plans to return the vessel to Japan. He’s already bought a new one, and is happy with the boat’s current dock. “He’s very happy that it’s being used here,” McGrady said.

In his home town, every fisherman raises their own flag on their boat at the start of the season, so Sasaki brought his flag with him to raise one more time, leaving the flag with his new friends in Klemtu.

“It was an emotional time for him and for us to witness,” said a guide. The lodge plans to continue using the boat in its bear-viewing operations.

With files from CBC News

 

Just Posted

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Most Read