An 83-year-old Japanese man is about to become the oldest person to cross the Pacific alone

Tokyo (CNN) — Sailing once alone on the largest ocean in the world is already a feat. But 83-year-old Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie has done it many times.

Saturday, June 4, he should set a record by becoming the oldest single-handed navigator in the world to have crossed the Pacific Ocean non-stop.

“Don’t let your dreams remain as dreams. Have a goal and work towards it, and a good life awaits you,” Horie told CNN via satellite phone as he made his way from Shikoku Island to Wakayama, the last leg of his journey.

Horie set sail on his 990 kg (2,182 lb) 19-foot sailboat — the Suntory Mermaid III — from San Francisco, Calif., on March 27.

He said parts of the trip were tough, 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 would be worried,” he added.

Horie made no stops during her trip and was spotted off the island of Oahu in Hawaii on April 16. It will arrive at Cape Hinomisaki in western Japan on June 4.

The sailor will attend an arrival ceremony in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, after the Suntory Mermaid III is towed to its home port, Shin Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor.

“Japan’s most famous yachtsman”

In 1962, Horie was 23 years old auto parts dealer when he became the first person in history to successfully complete a non-stop voyage across the Pacific Ocean – from Japan to California, according to the United States National Park Service.

“I was confident I would make it – I just wanted to take on the challenge,” said Horie, adding that he sometimes felt anxious during storms at sea as he only had a radio on board and he didn’t. There was no GPS back then.

Kenichi Horie aboard the Mermaid II in 1963.

Mitsunori Chigita/AP

Horie remembers happily offering Americans who came to meet him the sake and beer he had brought with him across the Pacific.

Although Horie has no official papers, he said San Francisco Mayor George Christopher granted him a visa.
At the time, donations were pouring in to support Horie and he was in such demand by the media that interviews with him were limited to 20 minutes per outlet, the Gadsden Times reported.
Horie, then 23, was welcomed by his parents and sister upon his return to Japan in 1963.

Horie, then 23, was welcomed by his parents and sister upon his return to Japan in 1963.


Low-fi, eco-marine

Since that sensational first voyage, the intrepid sailor has crossed the Pacific on eco-friendly vessels, ranging from a powered by solar panels to another made from aluminum cans and plastic bottles.
In 1999he sailed from San Francisco to Japan on a ship made of beer kegs.

Horie has spent the past few decades sharing the idea that the sea is “an irreplaceable source of life for the Earth”, but said he does not identify as an environmental activist. “I’m just doing my part as a member of society,” he said.

Horie, who has previously said he wants to continue sailing until he turns 100, never expected to make a solo, non-stop voyage across the Pacific six decades after his first voyage.

“I didn’t expect to be sailing at 83 but I’m still healthy and didn’t want to miss this chance,” he said. “The challenges are exciting, so I’d like to keep trying.”

As for the Siren – the first ship that transported it to America – it is kept at the National Maritime Museum of California.

A plaque given by Horie, immortalizing his request reads: “Remember for a moment, if you will, the deed of a young Japanese man, who loved the yacht and the United States of America.”