Kenichi Horie and the MERMAIDS
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is proud of its association with Kenichi Horie, Japan’s most famous yachtsman, and the first man in history to make a non-stop solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean.
As a gesture of his affection for the City of San Francisco, Mr. Horie donated two of the small sailing boats most closely associated with his adventurous career to the park’s permanent museum collection.
Kenichi Horie is regarded as a Japanese National Hero, and we are most pleased to bask in a small reflection of his glory. Mr. Horie was an unknown 23-year-old when he sailed his 19-foot black plywood sloop, the Mermaid, through the Golden Gate in 1962. His arrival was entirely unannounced. He had, in fact, left Japanese waters without any form of official clearance. Ninety-four days later, he arrived in San Francisco with no passport, no money, and little knowledge of English. Horie was briefly arrested, but Mayor George Christopher saw to it that he was released and presented with a visa and the key to the city.
The little Mermaid was shipped back to Japan, but was later returned to be displayed at the Maritime Museum. It was shown for many years on the veranda of the Museum, and became a must-see attraction for Japanese tourists in the 1960s and ’70s.
Please click here to go to a page created by our librarians. Our relationship with Mr. Horie began with his historic voyage to our city, arriving in San Francisco on Sunday, August 12, 1962, and those of us working in Collections are honored to preserve and make available for research the many items associated with Mr. Horie.
Did You Know?
Animals once served as important members of a ship's crew. Even though many of them worked to control pests or provide food, their main function was to serve as ship's mascot. The dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, and even bear cubs that went to sea as mascots, can often be seen in formal crew portraits. More...