Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Legally Blind Man Gearing Up to Sail Around the World
Dennis Howard has his sight, all 5 percent of it, set on sailing around the world on his 20-foot sailboat, The Avalo. The 62-year-old former hospital executive turned musician spent much of his life on the water. That changed five years ago when Howard discovered that the pressure he felt inside his head was caused by a rare form of glaucoma.
Four years ago, Howard met Dr. David Gritz, an associate professor of ophthalmology at New York City's Montefiore Hospital. Gritz removed Howard's right eye to alleviate the pressure and performed an operation that has allowed him to keep the remaining vision in his left eye.
"The way I describe it; imagine covering your right eye and looking through a drinking straw with your left. That's what I see," explains Howard. "It's a running joke that I can read a license plate from across the street, but I can't see the truck. It's not much vision, but I am really grateful for it."
Howard says that while learning to deal with his new disability he nearly gave up on sailing. But he refused to let his despair get the best of him.
So, a year and a half ago Howard decided to change the rigging and the sails on his 20-foot sailboat and start prepping for what will be his biggest journey to date.
"My goal is to inspire people with any kind of disability, whatever it is, to show them that there are possibilities," says Howard from his boat docked near Humphreys in San Diego Bay.
Howard plans to embark on his trip in late October. His first stop is Puerto Vallarta. Once there, he will wait until the cyclone season ends and sail to the Marquesas Islands.
"I'm not out to set any records. I just want to show the possibilities."
You can catch Howard playing guitar on Fridays and Saturdays at the Shelter Island Wine Pub.
More like this:
- Benefit for Blind Man's Around-the-World Sail Trip — Sept. 30, 2011
- Sailing Lessons — March 8, 2007
- Salty Noel — Dec. 16, 2004
- Embalmed Angel — May 30, 2002
- More than a Three-Hour Cruise — Oct. 30, 1997