Blind Japanese Sailor And Friend Cross Pacific

Blind Japanese sailor and friend cross Pacific

A blind Japanese man has succeeded in sailing across the Pacific Ocean from the United States to Japan with assistance from his sighted American friend.

52-year-old Mitsuhiro Iwamoto and 55-year-old Douglas Smith arrived at Onahama Port in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Saturday morning. They were greeted by a crowd of well-wishers.

The two left San Diego on February 24 in the Dream Weaver, a 12-meter yacht, and made the roughly 14,000-kilometer journey without any port calls.

Iwamoto is from the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, but now lives in the United States. He lost his sight in high school, and started sailing yachts 20 years ago.

Iwamoto said he was very happy to have made it. He said he persevered through rough weather and did not give up.

According to the blind sailing rule, Iwamoto steered the yacht and managed the sail. Smith helped him by providing information from visual sources such as equipment that shows wind direction.

The Japan Blind Sailing Association says Iwamoto is the first blind person to successfully sail a yacht across the Pacific.