An 83-year-old Japanese adventurer returned home June 4 after successfully completing his solo, nonstop voyage across the Pacific, becoming the oldest person to make the journey.
He says he is still “in the middle of [his] youth” and not done yet.
Kenichi Horie arrived in the Kii Strait off Japan’s western coast, completing his trans-Pacific voyage in 69 days after leaving a yacht harbor in San Francisco in March.
It was the latest achievement for the octogenarian adventurer, who in 1962 became the first person in the world to successfully complete a solo, nonstop voyage across the Pacific from Japan to San Francisco.
Sixty years later, he traversed the reverse route.
“I just crossed the finish line. I’m tired,” he wrote in his blog after reaching Japan in the early hours Saturday, June 4.
On the Sunday, after spending the night on his 19-foot (6-meter) -long Suntory Mermaid III just off the coast, Horie was towed into his home port of Shin Nishinomiya, where he was cheered by local residents and supporters with banners that read: “Welcome back, Mr. Kenichi Horie!”
As he approached the harbor, Horie, standing in his boat, took off his white cap and waved. He got off the yacht, took off the cap again and bowed deeply on the pier before he was presented with bouquets of roses.
“Thank you for waiting!” said Horie, who appeared tanned and with his white hair longer than usual.
His achievement came after three days' struggling with pushback from a strong tide. He wrote in his blog Friday, June 3, that he triumphed but was exhausted and took a nap after feeling assured his yacht was now on the right course to reach the finish line.
He carried a stock of medicine from San Francisco, he said, but only used eye drops and Band-Aids during his more than two months alone at sea.
“That shows how healthy I am,” Horie said. “I’m still in the middle of my youth.”
He said he burned all his "body and soul” on the journey but says he's ready for more. He added, “I will keep up my work to be a late bloomer."
Horie’s return home makes him the world’s oldest person to complete a solo, nonstop crossing of the Pacific, according to his sponsors. To him, it's a dream come true.
"It was my great joy to have been able to make a challenge as a real goal and safely achieve it, instead of just holding onto it as a dream," he said. “I want to be a challenger as long as I live."
Horie has also achieved a number of other long-distance solo voyages, including in 1974 sailing around the world. His latest expedition was the first since his 2008 solo, nonstop voyage on a wave-powered boat from Hawaii to the Kii Strait.