San Diego

Blind Man Set To Sail Boat From San Diego To Japan

The voyage will begin in February

A blind San Diego resident is getting ready for the journey of a lifetime: a 60 day sailing trip to Fukushima, Japan. 

“I can feel nature very much with sailing,” said Hiro Iwamoto. “And I can be a driver. I can’t do that in a car on the street but I can in the ocean with a boat!”

With the help of a sighted sailor, Doug Smith, the two will leave on February 24 aboard the Dream Weaver, a 40-foot sailboat. 

"The boat is big enough to be comfortable and safe for a voyage but still small enough," said Smith. 

Iwamoto was born in Tokyo and now lives in San Diego with his wife and daughter. He lost his sight as a teenager. 

"Growing up, my father had a fishing boat," said Iwamoto. "I have always loved the ocean." 

If the trip is successful, Iwamoto would be the first blind man to complete a crossing of the Pacific as part of a crew composed of one totally blind person and one sighted person, he said.

A couple, both diagnosed as legally blind, became the first blind pair to cross the Pacific Ocean in 2003 when they sailed from San Francisco to Australia, according to their website

Iwamoto attempted to make the journey in 2013, but the voyage ended prematurely. 

"We had a collision with a whale and the boat got a giant crack and sank," said Iwamoto. "We were floating around in 15-foot waves before rescue came." 

After that, Iwamoto did not want to sail for a long time. He said he will be sailing again both to raise money for charity and to show people that you should conquer your fears. 

"Failure can make your future success one thousand times greater, so never give up," said Iwamoto. 

The boat will have a tracking device on it so that fans can follow Iwamoto online during his journey

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