Tsunami Boat of Hope
A 24 foot barnacle-encrusted vessel, a panga boat from Japan, washed to shore on the beach in Crescent City, California and will be the first confirmed piece of tsunami debris from the 2011 Japanese event that devastated the town of Rikuzentakata, Japan. The vessel travelled from Rikuzentakata's Takata High School after a journey that spanned two years and 4,800 miles.
The students of Del Norte High School, Crescent City, California, felt it would be appropriate to clean the vessel and return it to the coastal town of Rikuzentakata as a gesture of compassion and as a reminder of the ties that bind the two cities, located an ocean apart but linked by the waves. Crescent city also suffered a tsunami in 2011, but not nearly as severe as Rikuzentakata, where 1 in every 13 people perished.
Since we have this connection there are plans in the works for Crescent City and Rikuzentaka to become sister cities.
John Steven a student at Del Norte High School, Crescent City organized a group of students to clean the vessel to return to Japan. Del Norte High School would love to send a small group of good will ambassadors with the vessel to further the connection between students of California and Japan.
The vessel will be returned to Takata High School in the fall of 2013 so the students have been fund-raising to make the trip, but need help.
Humboldt State University geologist and tsunami researcher Lori Dengler posted a photograph of the vessel to Rikuzentakata,s Facebook page after recognizing Japanese characters of the town's name. Within hours the vessel had been linked to Takata High School's marine science program. Federal agencies did confirm the boat's origin through official channels until weeks later.
Rikuzentakata city officials have already arranged funding and logistics to have the vessel returned to them, but instead of throwing the vessel in a box and sending it to Rikuzentakata, the idea is to send a Del Norte and Humboldt delegation to present the vessel to the town.
"It's cool because we are a small fishing community and they are a small fishing community, so we are helping someone that is a lot like us," said John Steven, who compared the vessel to Rikuzentaka's "miracle pine tree."
The 88-foot tree was another symbol of hope for the Japanese town, as it was the only one out of 70,000 pine trees that was left standing after the tsunami. When the tree started to die later from seawater damage, Rikuzentakata city officials cut it down, treated the wood with preservative, inserted a metal skeleton, and replicated the leaves and branches using synthetic resin. The restored tree was completed in March, just in time for the two-year anniversary of the tsunami.
This is a call for help!
The boat has arrived safely at Takata High School in Rikuzentakata, Japan. Now all we need to do is get the students there! The town had a ceremony to honor the boat as well as the students who perished during the 2011 tsunami. Please post and ask your friends to post as well, and again many thanks to you who have sent donations.
One of the students wishing to go to Japan writes this letter:
I first want to thank everyone who made it possible for us to even get involved with the boat. It is an absolute honor to be a part of the few that took the time to do this. On March 11, 2011 there was a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast in Japan. This earthquake was so big that it caused a tsunami that struck most of California's coast. We were all devastated by the amount of deaths that it caused in Rikuzentakata, Japan.
As time passed, 2 years, a random barnacle-covered boat washed up on a shore in Crescent City, California. It was later confirmed to be from Japan. So a handful of students from Del Norte High school were given the chance to clean this boat and send it back. I never thought we were going to be given the chance to go to Japan and come in contact with all the destruction this natural disaster had caused.
Most people might think this is just an ordinary boat, but it's not. This boat symbolizes a sign of hope and peace, not only for the people in Japan, but for us as well. It must be difficult to cope with losing what you have, whether it is a house or a family member. By returning this boat, I hope that our two very different communities can come together, connect and become one. This is important to me because it shows that anybody can make a difference in this world, no matter how big or small you are.
I've participated in many activities that required the students to fundraise. It ranges from car washes to bake sales. The possibility is endless. The only thing we have to remember is anything is possible if we set our minds to it. Please help us attend this trip to Japan to meet the students of Takata High School.
I am happy to have contributed and I have "shared" this on facebook. I really hope you get all the money you need. When I look at how much you have raised and how much you are shooting for I really feel bad for you and I wonder if your goal could be adjusted. In general I am hesitant to donate to such campaigns if it appears as though it is impossible for them to reach their goals.