A Japanese sailor made a two-month nonstop journey across the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first blind to accomplish this feat.
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto, 52, left San Diego on February 24 for Japan with the help of American navigator Doug Smith, aboard his 40-foot boat called “Dream Weaver”. Doug Smith helped him orally by giving him information such as the direction of the winds.
This is a long-awaited moment for Iwamoto, whose first attempt in 2013 ended when his 28-foot boat struck a 50-foot blue whale, sinking it in minutes. He had been rescued by the Japanese army.
Japanese media criticized his trip and the taxpayer-funded rescue mission. The post-traumatic stress of the ordeal almost drove him to abandon his dream which he called the “Journey of Inspiration”.
“I did not give up and finally realized my dream. I am the happiest person in the world, “Iwamoto told the Kyodo News news agency.
According to the Association of Blind Browsers of Japan, it is the first blind to cross the largest ocean in the world without stopping.
Although being blind, Iwamoto can feel the wind direction and steer his boat with the help of sighted people, but he needs a guide like Smith to sail around other boats, according to Voice of San Diego. To overcome his handicap, he uses a vocalized GPS and an audio compass. On the last trip, Iwamoto flew the yacht and managed the sail, while Smith helped him with equipment that shows the direction of the wind.
Iwamoto, who practices Oriental medicine, left Japan for the United States in 2006. He was partially sighted at birth, able to ride a bike or play baseball. At the age of 13, he began to lose his sight, and three years later he became completely blind. It was not easy for the teenager.
“My teacher told me that I had to start using a cane, but no, I did not want to accept it,” he said in 2010. “Life was hard. ‘I asked my parents, why did you give me birth?’ I was negative and I did not want to accept my condition. I did not know what my life was going to be. I even tried to kill myself. “
He spent his days crying, but in his dreams, he received a message that called him to be positive, something he lives today.
“There is not only one life. I have to give meaning to my life. Encourage people. Not only blind people, but seers who have lost the sense of life “.
His second trip across the Pacific was the accumulation of everything he went through. Determined to do so after the failure of his first attempt, he participated in triathlons to get used to the water. He even decided to travel in the opposite direction to his first trip. Thanks to his perseverance and Smith’s help, he has realized his dreams.
“We have embarked on this journey not only for our personal fulfillment, but also to send the message that anything is possible when people come together,” he wrote on his webpage.
According to Kyodo News, Iwamoto and Smith made this record-breaking trip to raise money to be used for charity and to prevent diseases that cause blindness.