Sailing Uphill


164 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-920663-70-2
DDC 797.1'092




Reviewed by Ted Thring

Ted Thring is a book reviewer for the Queen’s University radio


Many mariners who have written books about sailing voyages content
themselves—and bore the reader—with simply reprinting their
log-books. Others, such as Sam McKinney, succeed in bringing the reader
on board to share the adventure.

McKinney first felt the tug of the sea in Portland, Oregon, where he
and his widowed mother lived with an aunt and uncle. His early
adventures in a rowboat he built with his uncle led to a lifetime of
fascination with the water. At 12, he was working on a fishing boat on
the Columbia River. At 16, he was a deckboy on a sternwheeler. He made
many ocean voyages as a merchant seaman before attending university and
becoming a journalist. Many years later and well into his second
marriage, he built a boat he named Gander and set out on a journey that
would last four years.

McKinney had determined that, beginning with the Columbia River, it
would be possible to travel by water across the United States and, with
a detour through Canada, arrive in New York. The journey involved
portages over the continental divide and around dams, many adventures,
hardships, and shipwreck, as well as periods of sheer boredom as mile
after mile of empty shoreline moved slowly past. Ultimately, McKinney
reached Chicago, detoured overland around Lake Michigan, and set out on
Lake Huron for Georgian Bay. There he entered the Trent Severn Waterway
and traveled to Lake Ontario, followed the St. Lawrence and Richelieu
Rivers, transited Lake Champlain, and reached the Hudson, which took him
to New York. Mission accomplished.

In Sailing Uphill, McKinney shares not only his adventures but his
impressions of the land and the people he encountered. Highly


McKinney, Sam., “Sailing Uphill,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 28, 2022,