The 3 ton boat, Suntory Mermaid II, is crafted of recycled aluminum and is 9.5 meters long (31 feet). Propulsion is provided by two fins mounted at the bow of the boat which flap as wave action acts upon them through a set of levers and springs. It doesn't matter what direction the wave comes from. The max speed is 5 knots and average cruise speed just 3 knots (about 3.5 mph), so it will take until late May for Mr. Horie to reach Japan. Electricity to run cabin and navigation lights, a shortwave radio, and laptop computer, comes from deck mounted solar panels.
Horie, who is 69 years old, is no stranger to ocean crossings. Since 1962 he has made solo ocean crossings every few years and two solo round the world trips. In 1962 he sailed his 19 foot boat Mermaid from Nishinomiya, Japan to San Francisco in 94 days, becoming the first Japanese to solo across the Pacific. He arrived in San Francisco with no passport or money and was arrested. However, after learning of his voyage the mayor, George Christopher, arranged to have him released and given a 30 day visa. Kenichi was even awarded the key to the city. His book "Kodoku" ("Alone on the Pacific") about this experience, was made into a movie, "My Enemy, The Sea". The Mermaid is on display at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.
His boats have all been unique in that they were made from recycled materials - aluminum, beer kegs, recycled plywood whiskey barrels, and so on. Even his sails have been made of recycled plastics. He has always relied on renewable energy for propulsion - his own muscle, wind, solar, and now waves. He sailed the "Malt's Mermaid" - made of recycled cans and powered solely by solar voltaic panels - non-stop from Ecuador to Tokyo in 1996. Ecuador honored the voyage by naming two islets in the Gulapagos - one after him, the the other after the boat.
Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Company.
Horie does have a sail and an outboard motor on the Suntory Mermaid II, but those are only for use to provide power when entering port at the end of the voyage.
You can keep track of Kenichi Horie's progress with his diary and map here: SUNTORY-MERMAID.COM