It is with the greatest sadness that we learned today of the passing of long-time TSPS member Yoshikazu Aoki.
The details of the incident that occurred yesterday (Nov. 14) remain sketchy, but we’ve learned that Aoki-san along with another man, Yoshiaki Yamamoto, was sailing for Yokohama in rough seas with two to three meter waves. Their port of departure is unknown. They were approaching Shimoda harbor for refuge when a local construction worker called the Coast Guard at 3:10PM to report a vessel floundering outside the harbor. Their vessel had apparently lost power and hit a concrete breakwater at the harbor entrance. The construction worker (perhaps working on a water project in the harbor) approached the sinking vessel and managed to bring aboard Yamamoto-san, but Aoki-san, by that time had succomed to whatever occured.
Aoki-san was a very popular and well-known sailor in Japan. He worked as a delivery skipper and delivered vessels all over the world. In 2012, a boat he was delivering from the Mediterranean Sea to Japan was set upon by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. In the ensuing chase, his vessel suffered rifle shot but managed to evade the marauders. A video of the incident shot by a crew member was broadcast on television throughout Japan. To say that Aoki-san was an adventurous man would be a gross understatement.
Aoki-san possessed a wonderfully infectious laugh and brought enormous energy to every conversation. His passing brings on a sudden silence in the Japanese sailing community.
On behalf of the Bridge and our members, we offer our deepest condolences to Aoki-san’s family.
Click here for a video of Aoki-san belting out a tune about the umi (the sea) at the 2012 TSPS-Hayama Joint Sail event. Clearly, the man loved the sea. Thanks to Randy Erskine for recording this.
Please feel free to comment and/or share your memories of Aoki-san in the comment section below.