Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 13:31 UK

Blind man sails passenger ferry

Colin McArthur piloting the catamaran
Colin McArthur said the captain guided him on the controls

A blind man has piloted a £3m passenger catamaran across the Solent to raise awareness for stem cell research, which could one day help restore sight.

Colin McArthur, whose blindness is caused by a genetic condition, took the controls for the hour-long return trip.

The father-of-five from Sandown, Isle of Wight, said he "enjoyed every minute" of the experience.

It marks the launch of a project by the University of Southampton to find a cure for inherited blindness.

Mr McArthur, 58, previously flew a Britten-Norman Islander plane and piloted a 130-seat hovercraft to raise awareness of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition which causes blindness, often in later life.

He wants to raise money for the research project, which is trying to discover whether stem-cells from the iris and cornea can be re-grown in the retina to restore the sight of people with retinitis pigmentosa.

Mr McArthur, who is a trustee of charity RP Fighting Blindness, said: "Luckily enough the captain guided me through and told me which way to steer and how fast to go."

The Wight Link ferry, with passengers onboard, left Ryde, Isle of Wight on Thursday at 1045 BST bound for Portsmouth and returned at 1115 BST.

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