Kenichi Horie: 83-year-old Japanese man becomes oldest person to sail solo across the Pacific
Tokyo (CNN) — Sailing solo across the world’s largest ocean once is enough of an achievement. But 83-year-old Japanese ocean adventurer Kenichi Horie has done it multiple times.
On Saturday, June 4, he set a record by becoming the world’s oldest solo yachtsman to sail non-stop across the Pacific Ocean.
Horie arrived in the waters off the Kii Peninsula in western Japan at 2:39 a.m. local time, after spending more than two months crossing the world’s largest body of water.
“Don’t let your dreams just stay as dreams. Have a goal and work towards achieving this and a beautiful life awaits,” Horie told CNN over a satellite phone as he made his way from Shikoku Island towards Wakayama, the final leg of his voyage.
He said some parts of the journey were challenging but he checked in with his family every day by calling them on his satellite phone. “If I didn’t call at least once a day they’d worry,” he added.
Horie made no port calls during his trip and was spotted off of Hawaii’s Oahu Island on April 16. He will arrive in Cape Hinomisaki in western Japan on June 4.
The sailor will attend an arrival ceremony in Nishinomiya city in Hyogo prefecture after the Suntory Mermaid III is towed to its home port, Shin Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor.
‘Japan’s most-famous yachtsman’
“I had the confidence that I would make it — I just wanted to take on the challenge,” Horie said, adding he sometimes felt anxious during the storms at sea as he only had a radio onboard and there was no GPS back then.
Kenichi Horie on board the Mermaid II in 1963.
Horie remembers joyously offering the Americans who came to meet him the sake and beer he’d brought with him across the Pacific.
Horie, then aged 23, greeted by his parents and sister upon returning to Japan in 1963.
Hideyuki Mihashi/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Horie has spent the last decades sharing the idea that the sea is “an irreplaceable source of life for the Earth” but said he doesn’t identify as an environmental activist. “I’m just doing my bit as a member of society,” he said.
Horie, who has previously said he wants to keep sailing until he’s 100, never expected that he’d be making a solo, non-stop journey across the Pacific six decades after he made his first trip.
“I didn’t think I’d be sailing at 83 but I’m still healthy and I didn’t want to miss this chance,” he said. “Challenges are exciting so I’d like to keep trying.”
A plate donated by Horie, immortalizing his request reads: “Recall for a short moment, if you will, the deed of a young Japanese, who loved the yacht and the United States of America.”