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.

When I read yet another horror story of what one religious group does to another, I wonder where such grotesque imagination comes from. I mean, to encourage little children to shoot your imagined enemy in the head, for instance.

Where in God's name (the expression because we are dwelling on matters somehow associated with faith) would they get such a sick idea? It's one thing to host the idea of killing someone - usually a stranger in these feuds - but why would anyone want to ruin a child's sanity, future, life, with such horror?

What of novel approaches to slaughter by weird faith groups these days? Perhaps they're amateurs ... In the Rome horrorshow, many were hung by the genitals, some were branded all over with red-hot irons ...
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Man and savagery ... 'priests were eviscerated. Nuns, like other women, were violated, sold in the streets at auction.' Sack of Rome, by Francisco Javier Amérigo Aparicio, 1884. Biblioteca Museu Víctor Balaguer With thanks to Wikipedia.

Then the news media reminds us of the Irish troubles of only a few years ago, and some of the sickest ways to kill imagined enemies is there for us all to learn.

It encourages a notion to circumnavigate on my own again. Certainly the oceans pose serious threats to life, but if you've done your homework, skill mostly ensures survival.

Ever wandered about Rome, the eternal city, for an example of civilised living? That's how I used to feel wherever in that fantastic ancient place I looked - as long as it wasn't towards the Colosseum.

Knocking off other humans

I have had to revise that view today having read the latest book excerpt from the excellent daily email from Delanceyplace

If you want to know about weird and unwonderful ways of knocking off other humans, the history of the eternal city is there to educate us. And what staggers me about the appalling details of mass and hideous murders is that it happened comparatively not so long ago.

Today's Delancey excerpt is from Rome: The Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert and published by Penguin.

Less than five hundreds years ago, the then pope upset Spain's Charles V, who was on the road to becoming the Holy Roman Emperor. To put in in better perspective, our Henry VIII was getting about my town, Kingston, in South West London at the time. Many of the things he saw then we see now.

The upset Spanish King unleashed his troops onto Rome, beginning months of horror which included hacking down anyone the soldiers happened upon in the streets.

What of novel approaches to slaughter by weird faith groups these days? Perhaps they're amateurs by comparison. In the Rome horrorshow, many were hung by the arms, many by the genitals, some were branded all over with red-hot irons.

Other imaginative extras were to subject victims to insupportable noise, rip out their teeth, force some to eat their own ears, or nose, or testicles.

Christopher Hibbert writes, 'Some priests were eviscerated. Nuns, like other women, were violated, sold in the streets at auction. Mothers and fathers were forced to watch and even to assist at the multiple rape of their daughters. Convents became brothels into which women of the upper classes were dragged and stripped.

'Marchionesses, countesses and baronesses served the unruly troops. For long afterwards, the patrician women were known as the relics of the Sack of Rome.'

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