Voyage of Inspiration- Spring 2019

Blind Sailor to sail, non-stop, from San Diego to Fukushima, Japan

Nothing is impossible: The blind can sail the sea and, with your help, be made to see.



My name is Hiro Iwamoto, a completely blind sailor with a dream to sail across the Pacific Ocean.  On my first attempt in 2013,  the boat was sunk by a whale six days into the voyage-

But, I will challenge again with my friend, Doug.  We undertake this voyage not only for personal accomplishment, but to send a message that anything is possible when people come together.  In this case, a blind (but experienced) sailor and a novice (but sighted) sailor, will each compensate for the other’s weaknesses to complete at non-stop trip across the Pacific that is expected to take 60 days.

This Voyage of Inspiration is about taking action and making a difference, the same theme connecting the causes we wish to support: preventable and curable blindness; enabling those facing challenges; and citizen science, i.e. putting control of data in the public’s hands (the team will be monitoring radiation and pollution levels during the voyage using a monitor provided by SAFECAST). 

For about fifty dollars, less than you might spend on a dinner out, you can help restore sight to the blind, help prevent others from becoming blind, facilitate the blind reaching their full potential and help everyone know more about their environment by working with their fellow citizens.

Organizations We Want To Help

The Himalayan Cataract Foundation , Trachoma Control Program , Challenged Athletes Foundation, and Safecast. The team will match, up to $2,500 for each charity (a total of $10,000), any properly evidenced donations to these organizations to promote awareness and support them.

THE HIMALAYAN CATARACT PROJECT BRINGS WORLD-CLASS EYE CARE TO THE NEEDLESSLY BLIND and works to eradicate preventable and curable blindness in the developing world with a steadfast commitment to training local providers and working with partners to leverage impact. Of the more than 39 million people worldwide suffering from unnecessary blindness, more than half are due to cataract which can be surgically treated. Numerous studies have shown that sight restoration with cataract surgery is among the most cost-effective interventions in health care.
*For matching donations, please make sure to donate to HCP through our Crowdrise page:

The TRACHOMA CONTROL PROGRAM is marking its 20th anniversary in 2018. The program works with ministries of health in six African countries to eliminate blinding trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection found in poor, isolated communities lacking basic hygiene, clean water, and adequate sanitation.

It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.
*For matching donations, please make sure to donate to CAF through our fundraising page:

SAFECAST IS A GLOBAL VOLUNTER-CENTERED CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT working to empower people with data about their environments that developed out of a dedicated group of individuals response to the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan. We believe that having more freely available open data is better for everyone. Everything we do is aimed at putting data and data collection know-how in the hands of people worldwide. From the outset, Safecast has not sided with either the pro- or anti-nuclear camps, and has striven to demonstrate the advantages to science and to the public of having an independent organization devoted solely to providing the most accurate and credible data possible.


Mitsuhiro “Hiro” Iwamoto


Hiro Iwamoto is a blind sailor who endeavors to cross the Pacific Ocean from San Diego, where he lives, to Japan, where he was born, as a message to all that blindness and other disadvantages can be overcome.  His first attempt to sail from Japan to San Diego in 2013 ended when his boat struck a whale approximately 600 nautical miles off the coast of Japan and sank. 

Hiro became fully blind at the age of 16.  His condition is total blindness- the complete lack of any light perception.  After battling depression and contemplating suicide, Hiro found meaning for himself in helping and inspiring others.  Hiro never gives up and is always ready for a challenge. He is a member of the Blind Stokers tandem bicycling club of San Diego and recently completed the IRONMAN competition in Arizona.  Hiro’s story

Having lost all of his equipment when the boat sank on the last challenge, Hiro is raising funds to replace lost equipment and to cover personal expenses to undertake this voyage.  Any money raised above those needs will all be donated, pro rata, to the charities above in addition to the $10,000 the team is donating. Details can be found here.

Doug Smith


Doug Smith moved to Japan from the United States in 1990 where he started a career in real estate, met his wife, Naomi, and made a new life, including having two daughters, Rachael and Hana.  Feeling fortunate for the opportunities he has had, he is looking for ways to help others and support causes he cares about.

Doug feels strongly about the power of the organizations the team is supporting to make a real difference in the world.  No miracle breakthrough is needed to keep people from going blind and returning sight to those blinded by cataracts, just awareness and relatively modest resources.  The impact on those individuals is obvious.  As importantly, by preventing and curing blindness,  we free those who would otherwise be supporting the blind, usually young children, to pursue  their own dreams.

Dream Weaver

“Dream Weaver” is a 40-foot cutter berthed in San Diego.  The name “Dream Weaver” derives from a couple of strands of thought:  First, the interconnectedness of life: each interaction/deed/action, while shared, is simultaneously a separate thread in the stories of the lives of those involved and propagates, like a wave (a weaving),  through time and space so that none of us will ever fully comprehend our contributions to the tapestry of life.  Second, a simple acknowledgement that in sailing, as in life, there is no straight line to the goal.  Rather, we set off pursuing a dream and weave- “tack” in sailing terms – to our destination.

Specs_IP40 PDFfullsizeoutput_5471