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.

UPPER FLOORS of office blocks had succumbed to the new night as I hurried along Waterloo Road, near Waterloo Station. Cars and kamikazi cyclists in shiny helmets and tights were well head-lighted. Heavy clouds hid the space station due overhead about then.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Outdoors love ... From a photograph by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash and definitely not the couple in Venezuela.

But for the busyness of the road, the mob of office-workers I stood among would have weaved a quick passage across the intersection. Only to a side, surprisingly close to the traffic lights, a parked car shook in a somewhat enviable way.

Ship's Log 06 February 2017 1815: 51° 30' 11'N x 0° 6' 47.5'W | Wind SE 9 knots
Barometer 1014 millibars steady

The windscreen should have been steaming up. A few gasps arose from the pedestrians around me. We don't see real-life passion out on the street that often in London, and even less in Winter.

Surprisingly for this vast city, strangers shared the surprise. It rushed me from this intensely populated corner of the metropolis to a tiny anchorage, nearly five thousand miles away in Venezuela.

Jigsaw of islands

It was the first landfall on my swallowing-the-anchor voyage. To get through the Caribbean's jigsaw of islands, I had recruited an extra pair of eyes. And Bob was the first to spot a sporting couple right in the middle of a deserted beach, right beside the anchorage. As Sailing to Purgatory reports, 'Jeez,’ Bob shouts from the bow. 'Talk about olde worlde romance; a couple’s humpin’ on the beach.

'Might've be bucketin' down on us, but the sun's shining on them. And they reckon it's reserved for the riotous.'

It was the oddest scene. I wrote, '… the sight certainly had Iago's expression in Othello, making the beast with two backs, very apt. It was extraordinary to see. Surely something so natural should look natural, or more natural, or conversely less unnatural.'

And how odd that the facial contortions we hurrying pedestrians witnessed through the screen looked decidedly unreal, replicas of the Venezuelans', too.

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