Live Your Dreams: Oldest Man To Sail Solo Across The Pacific

by Yume Okamoto, Thornical Press

June 5, 2022

On June 4, 2022, Horie Ken’ichi became the oldest man to sail solo non-stop across the Pacific.  Horie departed San Francisco on March 27 and completed his voyage when he arrived off Cape Hinomisaki in Japan.

One of the world’s most famous solo yachtsman, Horie was born September 8, 1938 in Osaka, Japan and would complete his first non-stop solo passage across the Pacific in 1962.  Known as one of the first environmentally friendly yachters, Horie routinely develops and sails boats with sustainability in mind.

In 1962, Horie embarked on a solo voyage across the Pacific from Japan to San Francisco aboard a 19-foot plywood sailboat called the Mermaid.  Horie departed Nishinomiya, Japan, on May 12, 1962, and arrived in San Francisco, California on August 11.  In 1963, Kon Ichikawa directed the film Alone Across the Pacific, also known as My Enemy, The Sea, which was based on Horie’s 1962 book Alone On the Pacific.  The film was nominated for a Golden Globe award.  The Mermaid is currently on display at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Maritime Museum.

Seeking new challenges, Horie completed his dream of circumnavigated the world from east to west in 1974 and then again in 1978 from north to south.  In an amazing feat, Horie sailed from Hawaii to Okinawa in a pedal powered boat from 1992 to 1993.  Horie’s next challenge was to sail a solar powered boat from Ecuador to Tokyo in 1996.

In 1999, Horie sailed from San Francisco to Japan in a 32.8 ft catamaran, designed by Kennosuke Hayashi, that was completely constructed of recycled materials including 528 beer cans and a mast made from recycled plastic bottles.

Horie has always promoted the construction and use of environmentally friendly boats including those powered by solar battery and constructed from recycled materials. According to Horie, mankind has used wind to sail the world for centuries, but has largely ignored to use of the sea’s own powerful waves to move across the ocean.