Iwamoto and Doug Smith are planning to sail from San Diego, California to Fukushima Japan on the 40-foot sailboat Dreamweaver. The 2-month journey will start with them leaving San Diego, California on February 24th and they are hoping to arrive in Fukushima around April 24th. This is a daunting prospect for anyone, but for Hiro, there is an extra challenge, he lost his sight at the age of 16 and is completely blind.
Quake Global learned about the sailing team from our business colleagues at Furuno, who designed a sophisticated location mapping product for the yacht and boat race industry which uses the Quake Global QPRO ™ satellite location system. A member of the yacht racing community reached out to Furuno and mentioned the trip that Hiro and Doug were taking and Furuno generously offered to donate the valuable system to add an element of safety to the 60-day adventure. The intuitive solution for location and mapping combined with Quake’s QPRO will track the two sailors as they travel using accurate location via communication with satellites. The location system is already in use as the team goes through time trials and testing to prepare for every eventuality when undertaking such a long journey.
Furuno sent their head of product planning and marketing, Masayuki Mori to install the equipment. He quickly and efficiently completed the installation and the Quake and Furuno team were lucky enough to get an invitation to sail with Hiro and Doug for a test run. We were able to watch the entire test trip on the map on a laptop belowdecks as Hiro and Doug did the hard work sailing the boat. In addition, we were fortunate enough to watch their partnership in action. Traveling at 24 knots with the wind whistling through the sails, Hiro and Doug work in an efficient and carefully coordinated symphony of movement. Each one knows the tasks needed to set sail and Doug’s ability to communicate concisely about location and things visual to Hiro means they collaborate seamlessly, and no effort is wasted. This is amazing to watch, but to Doug and Hiro, this is just how they work together to make their dreams come true.
During the 2-month trip, the Furuno and Quake QPRO system will send an update at any interval that the user selects and using Furuno’s software everyone who has access will be able to follow them on this journey, Hiro and Doug feel having the system in place gives him confidence about the journey. Anyone can check their location on the map, both family, friends the media and sponsors. Hiro mentioned that having the location available to his wife and teen-aged daughter was particularly important.
Hiro and the Whale
In a prior attempt to sail from Fukushima to San Diego, the boat Hiro and his partner were sailing was hit by a blue whale and the boat sank. Hiro and his sailing partner were saved by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Most people who had experienced such a terrifying event would be reluctant to get on a boat again but not Hiro. While he confessed to having PTSD for about 6 months after his boat sank, he is determined to continue sailing. His mantra is “Failure can be one step to future success”. This inspirational attitude is one he shares with others as a motivational speaker. He looks forward to challenging himself, trying to conquer his fears and the rugged adventure of traveling from San Diego to Fukushima.
One of the reasons Hiro chose Fukushima was to inspire the children of Fukushima, who experienced the horrifying tsunami in 2011. He wanted to tell the children of Fukushima that the ocean is not scary, he is back home safely and that the ocean was a wonderful place.
More information about Furuno
You can read more about his previous adventure here
You can donate to help replace the equipment lost: GoFundMe
Watch a recent News Report about the Dreamweaver and her crew: NBC San Diego
Sailing is hard work and constant housekeeping, such as rolling ropes to keep them orderly and putting them and everything else in the same place every time which is particularly important when you are blind. Hiro feels it’s all worth it for the experience of being on the water and challenging himself to go on another sailing journey. Doug’s ability to stay in tune with Hiro and help stay organized with both sailing and the sometimes-mundane details of daily life on a 40-foot boat are both keys to their successful partnership.
When we spoke to Hiro, we asked what he liked about sailing and he mentioned the transcendent sounds of nature. When you’re in a sailboat and traveling with the wind, you hear everything and the wind itself makes so many different sounds depending on the windspeed, and the position of the boat. These are sounds that get muted on land where one can’t always hear with the same clarity.
So much about travel on a boat involves senses we don’t often think about, touch, to determine by size and texture which rope is the correct one to pull, the sound of the wind, birds, waves, the rope as the halyard raises the sail and the fresh smell of sea air. A rich tapestry of the senses that is even richer when woven into the beauty of sailing the ocean with friends on the Dreamweaver.
Stay tuned for the next blog which will share more about the sailors, a link to follow them as they travel to Japan and some interesting news about the latest innovations offered with Quake Global’s QPRO