Friday, March 25, 2005

Hatashita's Voyage

I read an amazing story in The Wall Street Journal this morning which, unfortunately, I can't link to as it's subscription only. The story is about an 81 year old former Japanese fisherman, Sakae Hatashita, and his solo voyage across the Pacific to bring his wife's ashes home to Japan. As Zephyr is dedicated first and foremost to "voyagers" I think that Mr. Hatashita stands to mind as a particularly strong example of that category. You can read some brief news reports about him here and here, but the WSJ tells the full story. Mr. Hatashita was born in the 20's to immigrant parents and made his living as the captain of a tuna fishing boat. He met and married his wife in 1960 and they made their home near Anaheim, CA. When tuna became scarce and the fishing life too hard, Hatashita and his wife opened a plant nursery. They worked nonstop, their only luxury a Sunday morning trip to Orange County to shop. During one of those trips they were in a car wreck and his wife, Shizako, was killed. Hatashita carried on by himself until, at the age of 80, he retired and decided to do something to honor his wife. He sold the nursery for $200,000, bought a 39-foot sailboat with some of the proceeds, learned to sail and crossed the Pacific Ocean with his wife's ashes, bringing her home to Japan. According to the WSJ - when the wind died he sang Japanese navy songs he had learned while serving in World War II "to bring my fighting spirit, " he said. "At times like these," he said, "I always thought: I've been here six or seven times before. The Pacific Ocean is my sea, and I know I won't get in trouble here." Now having made the voyage and recovered, his yacht Miya is being readied for his next adventure...what could the champ be thinking? He'll sail back to the U.S.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. Gave me shivers to hear this story. And also, thanks for the link to Navagear. I appreciate it.


hatashita is a great man. i have personally met him and talked to him a couple times and he is a great man. his voyage was long and hard but he made it which is excellent.