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.

Former hurricane Ophelia cast a very gloomy sky over London today, and at time it seemed so like night, with shops lit up and cars using head-lights, that I half-expected the communal garden to come alive with the usual nightly parade of foxes.

There's quite a community here. Because they are not just welcomed but often fed by residents, you might expect them to wander about seeking a petting, and perhaps a brush down or so. However, their probably justified shyness continues.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Sunny side up ... A neighbourhood fox takes in a spot of sunbathing before the hurricane's cloud darkened the metropolis.

It had been almost a dog's life for the critters in the area because the council suddenly introduced sealed plastic bins for left-over food.

Previously, scraps from the table went into the huge open-topped rubbish tins. The amount of it thrown out always amazed me, a vegetarian and a fellow obliged to live frugally. I suspect the quantity was the delight of the fox population.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Stormy ... The grim weather at dawn, on its rampage towards Ireland. Heavy accompanying cloud darkened the streets of London.

Then, without announcement - certainly no whispers went to fox families - everything changed.

Gratis alternative

Instead of being added to the huge bin, the scraps suddenly were tipped into plastic containers that not even careful neighbours like me could dip into as a gratis alternative to a discount supermarket shopping.

The change must have had a profound effect upon the fox family, so used to the nightly rubbish bin forays.

Skin and bones

Many fox families must have perished. I saw many ghost-like foxes that seemed hardly more than mangy skin and bones.

No professional chariot fund-raisers for them in the streets here. But perhaps heart-rending shrieks of birds snatched from their roosts at night, perhaps just from the ghost-like appearance of the famished forms in the twilight, prompted the neighbourhood's conscience.

Now many of us put out food for them each night. Some offer food scraps. I prefer vitamin-rich dog food which veterinarian Sue Pell recommends. Which the critters themselves prefer isn't announced.

They seem to be happy with both, if their nightly ghost-like cries are to be interpreted correctly. And the strange trumpetings themelves seem much more to do with foxy affection now than their famine of not so long ago.

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

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