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Sail for a Cure comes full circle

Sandy expects to be back in Picton very early Wednesday morning

Jacknife re-enters home waters. Sandy Macpherson guides Jacknife past Indian Island at the top of the Bay of Quinte, just after re-entering home waters via the Murray Canal Tuesday evening. – Molly Wills photo

Ships everywhere, Sandy said of sailing by the Welland Canal.

Sandy and Jacknife drying off after a rain shower.

Sandy with his family on dry land after his four-day Sail for a Cure, raising funds and awareness for the Canadian Cancer Society. Pam McRae photo

UPDATE WEDNESDAY – While ships are usually launched by breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow, but early this morning, Sandy Macpherson was welcomed back from his great sail with a bottle of champagne being poured over his head.
Friends, fellow sailors and family met him at the yacht club at about 4:30 a.m. this morning. His four-day fundraising Sail for a Cure trip around Lake Ontario having raised around $15,000 so far.
Just after 3 a.m. Sandy had posted to Facebook saying “Spinnaker’s up en route to the finish line in the moonlight. A perfect way to end a perfect trip!”

UPDATE TUESDAY – Thank you for welcoming me back in home waters, Sandy Macpherson told family, friends and well-wishers who met him at the Murray Canal in Trenton at about 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
“They just gave me Timbits, a coffee and some other friends were there with banana bread and a burger. That was gone quickly,” he laughed.
Sandy expects to reach Picton early Wednesday morning.

UPDATE MONDAY  7 p.m. : Sandy’s Dad was watching his son’s efforts on the GPS and saw him turn northest off Hamilton harbour. “Well done,” Dad said. “Now straight home, please.”
Sandy’s report of the last 24 hours:
“The sail from Oswego has been amazing. Last night was soooo fast and I got five hours of sleep, too. Today was good as well. Good wind in the morning, then it died a bit, then came the downpour. My boat got a little water down below so I had to bail with buckets. It was also interesting sailing by the Welland Canal – ships everywhere! Just passed Hamilton and now turned north. Winds are behind me for the rest of my journey so I’m pumped!
“Most of my journey I have been wearing my grandfather’s Tilley hat. My grandpa (from Hamilton) died at age 80 with his fourth bout of cancer. I’m so proud to be able to wear his hat especially on this round the lake trip. Please donate to the Canadian Cancer Society!”

“Bring it on, rain!” Sandy says Monday morning.


Months of planning, preparing and fundraising culminated in a smile and a wave as Picton’s Sandy Macpherson 19, began his nearly 450 nautical mile Sail for a Cure around Lake Ontario Saturday morning.
He may brave storms and harsh winds and will fight sleep deprivation and loneliness as his physical and mental strength is tested over his four to five day journey.
On Facebook Sunday morning Macpherson reported a rough first night but “great wind now and one straight line right past the Oswego power plant :)”
Early Sunday evening he shared a photograph of the corn chowder he was cooking for dinner.

Late Sunday night he reported the first 24 hours were rough.
“Amazing sail to Kingston then sat dead. Then it hit me just what I had gotten myself into. After about three hours of drifting it turned into a really windy first night with tons and tons of water getting in through loose hatches. The bilge pump broke so I had to go down with buckets and bail. After a few hours of smacking into waves, the sun came up and Oswego Harbour was in sight. Just as I approached Oswego the wind died again. so, I’m going from tons of wind to no wind but it’s settled down now and I have been sailing straight through all of my waypoints since then with perfect wind!|”

He then told Facebook friends he “Woke up from an hour long power nap to auto driving us fast and in the right direction! Just passing by the luminescence of Rochester harbour!”

When he left Saturday’s pancake breakfast and send off, he was as ready as he could possibly be.

“I’m about as prepared as I can be with the help of extremely wise parents and a few experienced sailors,” he said. “The boat weighs probably 500 pounds more than she should be with a week and a half’s worth of food, a thousand different safety items and a few personal effects, 500 pounds ain’t bad. None the less, we’re good to go!”
He thanked the many people who helped make his quest a reality – including those at the yacht club who helped turn his boat Jackknife from a day sailor to a long distance vessel; those who helped him raise thousands of dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society and also gain some valuable accessories, sails and parts.
“And last, but certainly not least,” Macpherson offered thanks to all those who donated almost $13,000 for the cancer society.
“My original goal was $4,500 so to feel that we almost tripled my goal, even before I sail, is an incredible feeling.”
Sandy’s boat is flying a flag people signed in memory, or in honour, of a loved one who fought cancer. His inspiration for the flag is his grandfather who lost his life to cancer.
The send off crowd laughed when they heard he had tons of five-hour energy drinks on board and how he was planning to sleep for 20 minutes, wake up to make sure he hasn’t hit anything, and if not, would return to sleep for another 20 minutes.

You can keep track of Sandy’s journey by viewing the GPS Tracking unit on his blog.

Click here for the background of Sandy’s story



Fundraising continued before Sandy’s launch and included a pancake breakfast and this car wash crew.

Sandy with his family before the launch.

Sandy thanked well-wishers who attended the pancake breakfast and launch Saturday morning at the Prince Edward Yacht Club.

A final wave as his journey begins.


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  1. Linda Austin says:

    8:15…. going past Belleville…. almost home!

  2. John Perkins says:

    Great job, Sandy. I expect your peer group is most impressed and inspired, and proud to know you. Life can be an adventure, but sometimes we need someone to show us how to chase adventure, and make our mark on the world.

    Now that you have this loyal following, including me, I hope you can continue to take us along on your future journeys. Arabia 2013. We will want to follow and support.

    Best wishes for favourable conditions ahead.

  3. Amanda Bright says:

    Great work Sandy! You are making amazing time!! Have been thinking about you today especially with all the rain we have had. Hope you have a good night tonight! Best of luck and May the winds be in your favour for the rest of your journey! What a life changing experience this must be for you!!!
    I too am up in the middle of the night checking where you are on the map– its really cool to be able to watch the GPS!! Your Grandfather for sure is your biggest fan right now and I bet he wouldn’t have been any prouder!! Such an honourable thing you have done!!

  4. Ian Macpherson says:

    My father’s hat aside… my own hat is off to

    You’ve been very supportive of my son’s efforts.

    I’m sure that your article encourages people to contribute to the Cancer Society by reminding them that the battle continues and needs their support.

    I’m also sure that your article gives people, young and old, some comfort in the goodness of people and some encouragement to act to help their neighbours in some way.

    Thank you, staff of county

  5. Linda Austin says:

    Sandy, couldn’t be more proud of you if you were my own kid! You’re a great inspiration for all ages. Looking forward to seeing you come home safe and sound to your PEYC berth. Linda

  6. Doris Lane says:

    Way to go Sandy–I remember you 10 years ago–Mom and Dad must be very proud

  7. Gerry den Hartog says:

    Forecast looks good Sandy, winds turning West then North West Tuesday maybe some 20kt periods but should be a great ride down the Lake.

  8. nancy reeks says:

    Great work it is people like you that make a difference all the best.

  9. Jan Syer says:

    We are following you every nautical mile. You are making great time. Hope the weather today isn’t too crazy. I even check the tracking in the middle of the night!
    See you very soon..

  10. Wanda Parks says:

    Great work Sandy….hope you won’t need the pump again. We are very proud of you!!!

  11. Ian Macpherson says:

    A big shout out to the car wash crew! Well done!

  12. Pam McRae says:

    Looking great Sandy! Keep Sailing .. hoping tonight is a better night for you!

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