Sailors with disABILITIES

A journey into the past of 'Mercator Wright of Passage'

The SWD Wright of Passage Youth Program came about due to the donation of a dilapidated Wooden Yacht called Mercator. Mercator was donated by Fred Van Steel and it isn't an exageration to say that the 1974 built, 53 foot Herreshoff Ketch, was in need of some special attention!

The donation of this vessel inspired SWD Founder David Pescud to establish a Youth Program like no other, and he called it 'Wright of Passage'.

The program for disengaged or disadvantaged youth kicked off over 12 months ago and recently after a year of toiling to restore the vessel to her former glory the youth proudly sailed the newly badged 'Wright of Passage Mercator' from Sydney to Hobart to take part in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Sydney.

Right - Mercator in her homeland of British Columbia Canada in 1977.

This week we received an email from a former crew member of Mercator, who sailed with boat builder and then skipper of the vessel Doug Barron out of British Columbia in Canada in 1977 & 1978. 

Jerry McIntosh provided us with these images of Mercator during that sail, and also brought with him the news of Doug Barron's recent passing. Jerry said that  'I am confident Doug was happy that the vessel will be a source of support and security for all who sail aboard her'.

Right - Mercator's builder Doug Barron during a feast at Mopelia, French Polynesia in 1977.

SWD is the 4th owner of Mercator, the original owner and builder Doug Barron was a Salmon Fisherman and Fishing Boat builder in British Columbia Canada. Doug embarked on two pacific voyages the first was to New Zealand and the second to Hawaii and on both occasions he returned to British Columbia. The second owner of Mercator was Jim Beckman who then sailed her to Hong Kong and spent several years sailing in tropical waters and to Australia. 

The 3rd owner being Fred Van Steel later donated her to SWD.

Thank you Jerry for these photos and in helping us understand the journey of Mercator and her builder a little more.

Right - on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand in 1977

Mercator at Ahe, French Polynesia in 1977

Papeete, Tahiti in 1977

Doug at the feast in Mopelia, French Polynesia in 1977

And in Moorea Tahiti in 1977

You can read more about Mercator on our website  An you can read more about our Youth Program Wright of Passage here as well.

Mercator still needs plenty of work, and you can help us by donating to our Crowdfunding donations are simple and take just a few minutes. All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible.