Ex-Royal Marine Steve Sparkes becomes first blind person to row across Pacific Ocean

A former Royal Marine has become the first blind person to row across the Pacific, arriving in Hawaii 82 days after setting off from California.

Steve Sparkes rowed himself into the record books when he arrived in Honolulu in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The 57-year-old has spent more than half his life without most of his sight after a diving accident starved his brain of oxygen at the age of 24.

Steve Sparkes said he hoped to inspire more visually impaired people. Credit: CBS

It means that Mr Sparkes can only see the sea and the sky and is unable to make out the waves which constantly battered him and partner Mick Dawson in their 6ft by 21.5ft carbon fibre boat, Bojangles.

At one point during his mammoth journey, Mr Sparkes was swept overboard, and was only saved due to the fact that he was tethered to the vessel at all time.

Only three of the five teams who started the race finished it. Credit: Great Pacific Race

Mr Sparkes and Mr Dawson - whose team name was Cockleshell Endeavour - were the third of five teams to complete the Great Pacific Race, with the winning boat finishing on July 27, and two other teams dropping out on the way - one due to hypothermia, another due to exhaustion.

Despite doing so well in the tough challenge and even having to deal with Hurricane Lane, the idea only came about following a chance meeting in a pub less than a year before the pair set off.

The team soon after they set off from Monterey. Credit: Cockleshell Endeavour

The veterans hope to raise £10,000 to be split between Blind Veterans UK and the Royal Marines Charity, but the adventure was about more than just money for Mr Sparkes, who hopes to inspire more visually impaired people.

"When you're partially sighted, you can drop down in your morale," the Falklands veteran explained.

"Your confidence lacks... but if I can do this, what can't I do?

"It's opened the doors now for other visually impaired and blind people to come out and have a go at it, because it is possible, it is achievable and it can be done."

Mr Sparkes did not have a beard and weighed 47lbs more when the journey began. Credit: Cockleshell Endeavour

While Mr Sparkes played down his feat, his friend - who is an experienced ocean rower - was in awe of his achievements.

"To put it into context, I know about a dozen people who could have done the job I did on that boat," Mr Dawson told ITV News.

"I suspect there isn't another blind veteran in the world who could have done the job that Sparksy did."

The pair battled rough seas on their journey. Credit: Cockleshell Endeavour

He explained that it wasn't just rowing 3,000 miles that Mr Sparkes achieved, he also had to undertake all the other tasks which must be carried out during such an adventure.

"I sat on the boat, on a number of occasions at night, rowing, and just closed my eyes for a minute - I could barely do it, it was so terrifying."

However, Mr Sparkes played down the praise, joking that his friend was simply "after a free beer".