First Nations on Vancouver Island's west coast are mourning the death of a Hesquiaht elder who went missing on New Year's Eve.

Harry Lucas was travelling by boat from Ahousaht, north of Tofino, to Hot Springs Cove on Dec. 31, but didn't arrive at his destination.

Search and rescue crews from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria were called to help locate the missing man, but it was his granddaughter Kayla Lucas who found his remains on Saturday.

Lucas told CTV News Vancouver Island she and other members of the communities that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth nations would miss her grandfather's knowledge.

Harry Lucas was a linguist and a fisherman with extensive knowledge of the coast, the Hesquiaht language and the nation's traditions, his granddaughter said.

"He was an encyclopedia for our people," Kayla Lucas said. "He was an asset, a huge asset to our communities. He was very active in teaching our Hesquiaht language and he's going to be very dearly missed."

At the same time, she said she feels glad to have recordings of him and knowledge he has passed on, and added that she believes he is at peace.

"He loved being on the waters," she said. "So, it was a circle for him. That's the way he went back home. Home beyond. Home to the ancestors."

Harry Lucas was last seen alive at the Ahousaht General Store around 3 p.m. on Thursday. He was due to arrive at Hot Springs Cove in his 22-foot boat around 5 p.m., but never made it.

The BC Coroners Service told CTV News via email Saturday that it had been notified of a death in the area and was investigating. The coroners service does not publicly confirm the identities of deceased people.

The search for the missing 80-year-old began Thursday night and continued throughout the day Friday, with several vessels from the Canadian Coast Guard, the RCMP and the local community involved.

A spokesperson for the JRCC said crews had searched the entirety of the elder's intended route between the two communities, as well as possible detours, by Saturday morning.

"Plans were underway to expand the search but then the deceased was discovered," the spokesperson said. "This is an unfortunate conclusion to this search and our thoughts are with the family."