As Kenichi Horie continues to sail across the Pacific aboard Suntory Mermaid III, the vessel’s Furuno tracker shows he is now only days from his final destination, Shin Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor (Nishinomiya, Hyögo Prefecture, Japan). The 83-year-old solo sailor departed San Francisco on March 26, and has so far spent 56 days at sea, on a solo voyage that he had estimated would last two and and a half months.
Assuming all goes according to plan, Kenichi is set to become the oldest person in the world to cross the Pacific Ocean without stopping at a single port. His first solo Pacific crossing from Japan to San Francisco was in 1962. He was 23 years old. He is currently undertaking his 11th major voyage.
In the few weeks since we last checked in on Kenichi’s progress, he appears to have retained his good spirits and positive attitude. Weather has been both for and against his progress. On May 19 he reported a squall had come through soon after midnight. “In the weather forecast, I was told to be careful about sudden changes in the wind and unstable weather. Around 1 a.m., a squall came. Although the waves were relatively small, the wind direction was not stable from north, south, east and west, and was swung until around 3 a.m.”
Yet on the following day, as he was trying to reach the sea near North Iwo Jima, he was wanting more wind. “Not only is the wind weak this time, but it is also a headwind even if it blows. The waves are less than 1m and Osaka Bay class. It’s too calm. Blow more, wind.”
While the next few days continued to see Suntory Mermaid making slow progress, by May 24 the winds had returned. “It seems that we have entered the north side of the front. It is sunny and cloudy with a northeasterly wind. It is about 1000km (540nm) south of Tokyo. It’s a little more. If this kind of wind continues, I can get there sooner …”
Throughout his journey, Kenichi has enjoyed amateur radio. and at one point he was able to communicate with a total of 38 stations from Hokkaido to Okinawa. His food stores are lasting well. though at some times, cloud cover has meant the solar panels struggled to keep up with his needs. “From Hawaii to Minamitorishima, it is sunny every day and the solar cells are in full operation. The battery was always full. After Minamitorishima, there were many cloudy and rainy days, and the battery level was low. You should be able to charge it today. I want to do amateur radio on Saturday even if I save time.”
We wish Kenichi fair winds and following seas, and sufficient sunshine, as he enters the last few days of his 6,000-mile voyage.