Kenichi Horie

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Kenichi Horie (堀江謙一, Horie Ken'ichi, born September 8, 1938 in Osaka) is a Japanese solo yachtsman. Horie first rose to prominence when he was thought to have become the third person to sail solo across the Pacific Ocean in 1962.[citation needed] He has made other significant solo voyages, usually involving boats exhibiting some sort of environmentally friendly theme, including his 2008 voyage across the Western Pacific Ocean in a wave-powered boat.[1]

First Solo Voyage Across the Pacific[edit]

In 1962, at the age of 23, Horie became the third person to make a solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean, the second being the Briton Brian Platt, who crossed in a Hong Kong built junk called High Tea from Japan to California between 20 September and 25 December 1959 [2] Leaving Nishinomiya, Japan on May 12,[3] in 94 days (on August 11) he arrived in San Francisco, California, U.S. aboard a 19-foot (5.8 m) sailboat called the Mermaid. He arrived with no passport or money and was promptly arrested. Despite Horie’s best effort to legally depart from Japan, because of lack of precedent for international travel on a small sailboat, he was not able to obtain a passport, or an adequate amount of foreign currency. After learning of his voyage the mayor freed him and gave him a 30-day visa, and he was awarded the key to the city.

Book and article[edit]

Horie wrote a book about his voyage, titled Alone on the Pacific (Kodoku), which was made into a movie Alone Across the Pacific (also titled My Enemy, The Sea) in 1963 by Kon Ichikawa. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe award. The Mermaid is currently on display in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Maritime Museum.

Malt's Mermaid next to the main hall of Kotohira-gu.
Malt's Mermaid logo.


Horie has made numerous solo voyages:

In 1974, he circumnavigated from east to west, and in 1978 he circumnavigated from north to south. In 1985, he sailed a solar boat from Hawaii to Chichijima. From 1992 to 1993, he sailed from Hawaii to Okinawa in a pedal powered boat. In 1996, Horie sailed from Salinas, Ecuador to Tokyo in a solar boat made of recycled aluminum. This crossing covered 10,000 miles (16,000 km) in 148 days which earned the Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing of the Pacific in a solar-powered boat. The Malt's Mermaid is on display at Kotohira-gū Shrine in Shikoku, close to the main hall.

In 1999, he sailed from San Francisco to Japan aboard a boat made primarily from recycled materials. The boat, Malt's Mermaid II, designed by Kennosuke Hayashi, was a 32.8-foot (10.0 m) long, 17.4-foot (5.3 m) wide, catamaran constructed from 528 beer kegs welded end-to-end in five rows. Horie joked that 500 of them were empty. The rigging consisted of two side-by-side masts with junk rig sails made from recycled plastic bottles. This boat is on display in Okura Beach, Akashi.

In 2002, Horie sailed from Nishinomiya to San Francisco aboard the Mermaid III, which was a replica of the original Mermaid constructed from a variety of recycled materials, including whiskey barrels for the hull, aluminum cans for the mast and plastic soda bottles for the sails.

First ocean wave-powered voyage[edit]

In 2008, Horie travelled solo from Hawaii to the Kii Peninsula in western Japan aboard the 9.5-meter, 3-tonne catamaran Suntory Mermaid II, built at Tsuneishi Shipyard (常石造船).[4] The voyage was the first in a vessel propelled on ocean wave power alone.[5]

Horie took more than three months to sail from Hawaii to Japan in his wave-powered boat, arriving in Japan on July 4, 2008, but said he was blessed with good weather and tasty fish.[6] YachtPal and venerable sailing adventurer Horie ate mostly rice and curry, squid and flying fish he caught.[7]

Kenichi left Honolulu on March 16, 2008, and completed the 110-day solo voyage at the port of Wakayama in the channel between Honshu and Shikoku islands before midnight (1500 GMT) Friday, July 4, 2008. He covered the 7,000 kilometres (3,780 nautical miles) from Hawaii without a port call. His yacht used wave energy to move two fins at its bow and propel it forward, and sailed at an average speed of 1.5 knots. His final home harbour is in the port of Nishinomiya. As an environmentalist, he promotes the use of environmentally friendly boats including those powered by solar battery, are made from recycled materials. He is quoted as saying: "Throughout history, mankind has used wind for power, but no one has appeared to be serious about wave power. I think I'm a lucky boy as this wave power system has remained virtually untouched."[1][8]


  1. ^ a b, Japanese sailor first to cross Pacific in wave-powered boat Archived September 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ South China Morning Post, 21st Sept 1959, p.7.
  3. ^ SFWeekly - Tales of the North Pacific Archived February 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Finished construction of the Suntory Mermaid II Archived September 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Tsuneishi Forestry Construction Company
  5. ^ Page not found Archived April 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Sailor ends 4,800-mile (7,700 km) wave-powered journey NBC News
  7. ^, Wave-powered boat finishes crossing[dead link]
  8. ^, Japanese sailor first to cross Pacific in wave-powered boat Archived July 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine