Susumu Sugawara: Boat Captain vs Tsunami
Boat Captain Susumu Sugawara Rode Out Tsunami Wave
As Japan continues taking stock of the damage and human cost of the earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, more and more amazing stories of courage are emerging.
The latest is that of Susumu Sugawara, a 64-year-old boat captain. Susumu Sugawara piloted his small boat against a 20-meter (60-foot) wave. If you had to guess the outcome of senior-citizen boat captain vs tsunami, you'd probably have picked the tsunami... but, in this case, you'd be wrong. Winner: Susumu Sugawara.
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Sugawara lives on the tiny island of Oshima. He described steering his boat, the Sunflower, into deeper water as the tsunami approached. he then steered straight into the oncoming wave, saying goodbye to his other boats as he went. As Susumu Sugawara opened the throttle all the way, he told the Sunflower, "If we live or die, then we'll be together."
"Here was my boat and here was the wave," he says, holding one hand low and the other stretched high above his head. "I climbed the wave like a mountain. When I thought I had got to the top, the wave got even bigger."
Sugawara's return to Oshima was fraught: he had to navigate past the wreckages of all of the other boats. For the past several weeks, he has been ferrying people and supplies from Oshima to Honshu and back.