It had been a long and grueling journey. Kenichi had made this journey before. He was a young man back then and full of confidence.
Now he was in his eighties and facing the vast expanse of the pacific ocean all on his own. Many people were worried about his safety. The clouds weren’t looking good, and he wondered if he would make it.
Kenichi Horie was born on 8 September 1938 in Osaka, Japan. It was a perilous time to be Japanese, as the dangers of the world’s deadliest conflict would later prove.
Kenichi, fortunately, made it through this tumultuous period unscathed. As he got older, his ambitions grew. However, one of those ambitions placed him in greater danger than ever.
By 1962, Kenichi was 23 and longing for a life of adventure. Relations between Japan and the USA had stabilized a lot since 1945. Kenichi began setting his sights on a seemingly impossible goal.
He was still a young man and still green around the gills in many aspects of life. Kenichi would, however, soon prove that he was no ordinary young man.
Kenichi was determined to sail to America. He did not have permission or the vast supplies and resources required to make such a long journey.
Adding to all the peril was the fact that Kenichi planned to make this trip entirely by boat. It wasn’t a ship or tanker, just a 19-foot sailboat made of plywood named “the Mermaid”.
Kenichi made his way out across the pacific ocean. He had saved all his money and tried his best to do things legally, but there was no precedent for crossing an entire ocean on a sailboat.
Kenichi traveled this way for three months with just tins of canned food and rice. He was utterly alone and faced many dangers along the way.
Kenichi battled through torrid weather, dangerous sea swells, blistering heat, thirst, and hunger. After a grueling trip, he managed the impossible.
Kenichi had managed to sail from Japan to San Francisco on a sailboat alone. Once he reached there, far from having his unprecedented achievement celebrated, he was promptly arrested.
Since Kenichi had no passport or visa, remarkable as the young man’s trip was, the authorities had no choice but to detain him. However, word of his astounding journey soon spread and reached the Mayor’s ears.
San Francisco Mayor at the time, George Christopher, arranged Kenichi’s freedom. In light of what he’d managed, Kenichi was not only granted a 30-day visa but also given a key to the city.
Now that Kenichi had made a name for himself and proven to himself and everyone else what he was capable of, sailing became a way of life for him.
Throughout his life, he would go on to make many more long voyages by sea. Kenichi kept pushing boundaries. Over time, he took more considerable risks.
Between the seventies and early 2000s, Kenichi continued to make remarkable trips worldwide. His achievements include circumnavigating the globe east to west and north to south.
Not one to take the easy way out, his vessels over the years have included a solar boat, a paddle boat, boats made primarily of recycled material, and even the world’s first long voyage using a wave-powered boat.
Kenichi has lived a long life and has undoubtedly had a more adventurous one than many. As 2022 rolled around, Kenichi turned 83 and had a string of fantastic achievements behind him.
While many people expected him to slow down and bask in his triumphs, it seemed the intrepid older man still had one more voyage to go. However, this time, people were worried if he could still make such trips at his age.
At 83, Kenichi Horie set sail aboard his 19-foot sailboat, Suntory Mermaid III. This time, his journey began in San Francisco and was due to end in Japan.
Once again, he would be alone and attempting to cross the world’s largest body of water without a crew to assist if anything went wrong. It would be 69 days before he was seen again, and his miraculous story could be told.
Once again, Kenichi proved all his doubters wrong by successfully completing the seemingly impossible journey. Reaching Japan safely, he had also accomplished another remarkable feat.
After setting many previous sailing records on his other trips, this one was perhaps the most special. At 83, Kenichi Horie set a new Guinness World Record as the oldest person in the world to ever cross the pacific on a non-stop trip as a solo yachtsman.
Kenichi has proven to be one of the most determined and resourceful sailors in history. He continues to sail and still loves making boats out of eco-friendly, recyclable materials. A lot has changed since his maiden voyage in 1962.
Now that Kenichi has boats that employ GPS and other technological advancements, he is spared a lot of the peril these trips used to place him in. People are always wondering, how does he do it?
Despite his advanced age, Kenichi manages to keep his mind sharp and alert and avoids falling apart from isolation by keeping in touch with family via satellite phone.
Even at this age, he remains sprightly and is full of energy to continue with his four-decade passion. After already achieving so much, it appears that Kenichi still isn’t done.
According to Kenichi, he is not done with sailing. He plans to keep sailing even when he is a 100-years-old and beyond.
Speaking to CNN, his advice to others is, “Don’t let your dreams just stay as dreams. Have a goal and work towards achieving this, and a beautiful life awaits,”