Cross-ocean floater's new home

2012-07-09 08:33

You may recall a couple of months ago the story about a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that made an amazing 12-month journey after those deadly tsunamis flattened Japan – and was eventually found washed up, pretty much complete, 5000km away on the west coast of Canada.

I was reminded me of that incredible weather-based story this weekend while watching a very wet Formula 1 GP practice at Silverstone in the UK; while over in Germany the exact same weather pattern was creating havoc at the MotoGP, and here in Cape Town it’s done nothing but rain just about all weekend.

What had eventually became of that Harley, I wondered?


To recap, Peter Mark, a resident of a small town in British Columbia who enjoyed beachcombing as a hobby, came across a rusted cargo container on April 18, 2012. A closer look revealed – among other items – a complete, but very rusty, Harley-Davidson Softail Night Train.

The registration plate was still attached to the bike so Mark was perplexed to discover it was registered in Japan. Further investigation was indeed necessary – and what an amazing story it turned out to be.

About 12 months earlier Japan had been rocked by the worst tsunamis on record – flattening power stations homes and heavy and light industry, while taking a massive toll on people’s lives along the coast. The Harley had been registered to Ikuo Yokoyama who had survived the tsunami but lost three family members in the tragedy. His house and household effects, and other items placed in storage, had all been swept away – never to be seen again.

Or so he thought...


“It is truly incredible that my Harley was recovered in Canada after drifting for more than a year,” Yokoyama said. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to Peter Mark, the finder of my motorcycle. Due to circumstances caused by the disaster, I have been so far unable to visit him in Canada to convey my gratitude.”

Since then, Harley-Davidson (Canada) had offered to restore the bike and ship it back to Yokoyama, but the 29-year-old asked instead for the Softail to be preserved in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, US, as a memorial to the 15 000 lives lost on the Japanese disaster.

“Since the motorcycle was recovered, I have discussed with many people about what to do with it. I would be delighted if it could be preserved in its current condition and exhibited to the many visitors to the Harley-Davidson Museum as a memorial to a tragedy that claimed so many lives,” said Yokoyama – who still lives in temporary housing in Japan.

“I am very grateful to Harley-Davidson for offering me an opportunity to visit the museum and I would like to do that when things have calmed down,” said Yokoyama. “At the same time, I would like to meet Peter, who recovered my motorcycle, to express my gratitude.

"Finally, I would like to thank all the people around the globe once again for their wholehearted support of the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami – a disaster of historic proportions.”

From my side, I promise never to moan again when it rains in the Mother City, and to those sissies who are paid to race: Formula 1, WSB and MotorGP drivers and riders – just get on with it, dammit!