Sailing to Purgatory
The final scene in this true adventure shocked the author, too.

‘The reader will be enthralled as Paul, former Fleet Street journalist turned professional yachtmaster, takes us along on his ‘swallowing the anchor’ voyage, his retirement from the sea.

'This self-confessed newish ancient mariner … has spent almost a lifetime sailing solo, as both an ocean going competitive yachtsman, as a DoT Commercial Yachtmaster, and during his circumnavigation to become a singlehanded Cape Horner ... Sailing to Purgatory has all the roller coaster elements of a heart stopping adventure — drama on the high seas, observing life ... undersea volcanoes, a love interest, and waves high enough to scare the pants off most of us.’ - Brenda Vowden, journalist, avid reader

Home from the outside ... St Helenans,
'Saints', round their South Atlantic
island in Midshipman,
en route for Stockholm.

Enterprising forebears ... The house Paul's father designed, and the car his paternal grandfather designed and built.

Running repairs ... crewman Declan checks rig fittings on the superyacht, Midshipman, which Paul sailed from the Cape to Sweden.

Sail power ... Gavin's Howe's beautiful yacht in the Mediterranean.

Rescue in the Southern Ocean ... Yachting World's international edition this month features Paul and Captain Fantastic in its Great Seamanship series.

Pat and Gerry Adamson, two wonderful supporters get Spirit of Pentax ready for her circumnavigation.

Home sweet home ... St Helena islanders, after a voyage round their island home on the superyacht, Midshipman.

Baptism of a Cape Horner ... Lady Chichester names Spirit of Pentax in a ceremony at Brighton Marina.

Homeward Bound 2 is prepared for her attempt on the longest open boat record.

Tri trials ... testing Paul's entry in the singlehanded race across the Atlantic are great friends Ron Pell, Jerry Freeman plus a keen helper.

Cover up ... Bob Abrahams works on cover ideas for Sailing to Purgatory.

Stocking up for 18 months ... Last minute farewells before Spirit of Pentax and Paul left on the long route to become Cape Horners.

Death of a racer ... Baltic Wind flounders after running into a container in the South Atlantic. Paul and a lady shipmate spent eight worrying days in a liferaft.

What's it all about, Alfie, goes that old song, and if the question might be about life, some stark reminders lie here in the communal garden, bathed by the Harvest Moon. What's it all about? A rather worn pram, and a pile of immaculately maintained tupperware containers.

They lie with the block's refuse, waiting for the Friday collection by the bin men.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The end ... The pram did its work, all that was expected of it. Like its owner, now it will be disposed of.

And - just about - they are the mortal remains of two wonderful neighbours whose lives have been snuffed out this autumn, with completely opposite visits by the Grim Reaper.

Dee went first, Dee from Dublin, who nursed her cancer-stricken husband to his end, about a year ago. And then died just a few days before the awful anniversary, but not peacefully, as we like to think. It was anything but.

Hard working, well-meaning Dee, a keen gardener, and host to a tribe of plastic gnomes went after at least a fortnight of appalling pain.

Surprise last day

Her path was to the crematorium and then ...

On Jean's surprise last day, she entertained friends to afternoon tea, enjoyed jokes and reminiscences, went to her bedroom later on, sat on the edge of the bed ... and her heart stopped. As simple as that, reported the coroner.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Harvest moon ... Shining over our communal garden tonight, but two of us are not likely to be able to admire it again.

Her friend and neighbour, and a friend to all of us, Jean will come by hearse to the door of her flat in the morning, and then be taken off for burial in North London somewhere.

Rumour has it that she will share her husband's grave. He predeceased her by many years.

And even before Jean leaves our estate in Surbiton, the bin men will have taken away the last of the remaining side of hers and Dee's many decades in this world.

Time wore it out

The pram belonged to Dee, and was used for her grandson, handsome young Harry, back when he was a baby and put in his grandmother's care for regular baby sitting.

The pram has to go because, like the grandmother, time wore it out.

And all that remains of both ladies is the plasticware, sitting so neatly in small well-scrubbed mountains among the litter. It doesn't take much imagination, seeing them glinting in the Harvest Moon's rays tonight - our close neighbour's declination is 6 degrees North, yet seems almost directly overhead - to see them in regular use keeping the ladies' food fresh in a fridge.

The gorgeous planet will set by breakfast time, and the last of two wonderful people will be gone, too. What's it all about, Alfie ... At times like this and for all of us, the answer takes some guessing.

Thanks for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

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