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Waves — not wind or fuel — power test boat

Wave Boat
Kenichi Horie stands in front of his wave-powered boat at the Hawaii Yacht Club in Honolulu on Tuesday. Marco Garcia / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Kenichi Horie, who has crossed the Pacific in a solar-powered boat made of recycled aluminum, is getting ready for his next solo adventure.

The 69-year-old Japanese sailor will set out March 16 on what he says will be the world's longest voyage in a wave-powered boat.

Speaking Tuesday through a translator at the Hawaii Yacht Club, Horie said he would travel more than 4,000 miles from Honolulu to Japan aboard a 3-ton yacht called the Suntory Mermaid II at a speed of up to 5 knots.

The boat made of recycled aluminum relies on the energy of waves to move two fins at its bow and propel it forward. Horie said it is a sturdy vessel, designed to right itself if it capsizes. But it is equipped with an engine and a 35-foot sail mast for emergencies.

The journey — which would take a diesel-powered boat about 10 days to complete — is expected to take Horie about 2.5 months. He will take along rice, canned food and microwaveable meals. And beer.

Solar panels atop the catamaran will power the microwave, and Horie will also have a satellite phone and access to e-mail.

"With so many people supporting me, even by myself, I won't feel lonesome," Horie said.

To pass the time, he said, he would also take books and a radio.

"I still think he's crazy for doing this," said Howie Mednick, vice commodore of the Hawaii Yacht Club. But he called the voyage "historical" and "amazing."

Ken Dota, a spokesman promoting Horie's voyage, said the sailor hoped the shipping industry would eventually adopt the clean wave technology.

The journey will not be Horie's first time traveling the seas using green technology. In 1992, he powered a boat by pedaling from Hawaii to Okinawa. And in 1996, he sailed nearly 10,000 miles from Ecuador to Tokyo aboard a solar-powered boat made from recycled aluminum beer cans.