On July 2, 108 days after departing from Hawaii on the world's longest voyage in a wave-powered boat, 69-year-old Japanese sailor Ken'ichi Horie was spotted in his boat off the coast of Japan. The solo sailor of the wave-powered Suntory Mermaid II was seen about 50 kilometers (31 mi) offshore south of the Cape of Muroto (Kochi prefecture), heading northeast toward his final destination, the Cape of Hinomisaki in the Kii Channel (Wakayama prefecture), where he is expected to arrive on the evening of July 3.
The 6,400-kilometer (nearly 4,000 mi) journey, which appears to have taken 5 to 6 weeks longer than originally planned, can ordinarily be completed by a diesel-powered boat in about 10 days. However, the Suntory Mermaid II, a 9.5 meter (31 ft) long x 3.5 meter (11 ft) wide, 3-ton vessel made of recycled aluminum, does not use an engine for propulsion. Instead, it relies on a pair of fins under the bow that move up and down as the waves come in, propelling the boat forward.
Horie, who was reached on his cellphone by an Asahi reporter, said he was in good physical shape and that the boat was in perfect working order, but that the increased boat traffic around Japan was forcing him to pay extra attention to safety.