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2 sailors found safe after boat capsizes on Lake Ontario

Two men are safe after a near-six-hour ordeal on Lake Ontario Wednesday night after their sailboat capsized.

The sailors, a student and instructor, disappeared off Gibraltar Point, near Toronto Island, around 7:30 p.m, when a strong gust pushed the vessel over.  It drifted about 12km.

The Toronto Police Marine Unit, the Coast Guard and a Hercules C130 aircraft were used in the search.

“These boats flip all the time and we’re trained for that,” said sailing instructor Charlie Macchin, who was on the catamaran with student, Gord Sparrey.

“What messed things up this time … is Gord got caught under the trampoline. So I grabbed my knife, this is what we’re trained to do, and I dove under the water and I saw him, I saw him fighting to get out.”

Rescue teams found the men on their five-and-a-half-metre catamaran about 4 kilometres southeast of the Eastern Gap just after 1 a.m. Thursday.

Both were wearing life jackets and wet suits, which police say likely prevented a more serious outcome.

“When you’re under water like that, your body is being robbed of heat and it only takes about a 3 degree drop in your temp before things can get critical,” said PC Gary Gibson, Toronto Police Marine Unit. “They did the right thing, they stayed with the vessel.”

Sparrey’s father thanked rescue teams.

“It’s incredible, I can’t say enough for the effort they put in and the fact that they wouldn’t stop trying,” said Norm Sparrey.  “And they brought in the Hercules plane to help with the search, this is phenomenal.”

Gord realizes things could have been a lot worse.

“I feel very lucky,” he said.  “(But) I think it aged my parents a few years.”