SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Six years ago, a blind sailor from San Diego made international headlines when he tried to cross the Pacific Ocean on a non-stop sailing adventure.
But Hiro Iwamoto’s voyage was cut short when a 50-foot blue whale smashed into the yacht he was on.
On Sunday, Hiro set out to finish that voyage by making a second attempt.
The experienced sailor has been blind since he was a teenager.
"The limitation is just in your brain,” said Hiro. “[Being] disabled doesn't matter. What you want to do comes first.”
Hiro is set to cross the Pacific Ocean on a non-stop, 6,000-mile adventure to Fukushima, Japan.
He chose the destination six years ago because he said he wanted to encourage tsunami victims there.
But Hiro would need more than encouragement himself to travel the world.
Enter Doug Smith.
"He is a great dream supporter,” said Hiro. “I would like to say [I’m] thankful for Doug.”
Smith and the 52-year-old Hiro are expected to arrive in Japan by April 24.
The two are not only sailing together but raising money for charities like San Diego's Challenged Athletes Foundation and programs to reduce blinding diseases in Asia and Africa.
The two-month excursion will no doubt be challenging, but hope is what Hiro is betting on.
"Because every time I go out sailing the ocean is great, but for them the ocean is very sad, and they don't want to see,” he said.
Hiro has already sent dinghies to schools in Japan to remind them the ocean is still great.
"I want to go back to Fukushima and say I'm back, I’m still alive, so never give up,” he said.
Visit Hiro’s Voyage of Inspiration Facebook page to track the progress of his journey.