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.

If there's one thing that has come from the drugs laws, it's that they have given the news media something to write about on unnewsy days. But how little of it stands up to scrutiny.

For example, the Beeb's own File on 4 is touting a story from a 'leading youth charity', which - according to File on 4 - says that about 4,000 teenagers from London are being exploited and trafficked every year to sell drugs in rural towns and cities.

I've mentioned before that in my early days in journalism, I used to report on these very shaky stories of drugs misuse. It was all unfathomable to me, but like a good junior reporter, I accepted what authority said. Eventually, though, I went off in search of the truth.
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Many thanks to Jeremy Paige for his photograph on Unsplash

'Known as county lines, gangs use children as young as 12 to traffic drugs, using dedicated mobile phones or lines,' says File on 4.

Then they state that Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland described the figures as shocking and that the exploitation was only slowly being recognised.

Kids as salesmen

Does it make sense that gangs allegedly making millions from selling drugs would actually get kids to be salesmen and deliverers?

Later in their account, File on 4 gets to the astonishing claim by the 'leading youth charity'. What the charity's chief exec actually said - going by the report - is that 'a frightening number of young people are at risk of being involved in county lines dealing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Many thanks to Greta Scholderle-Moller for her photograph on Unsplash

'We have started recording when we've got concerns,' the executive says.

To me that seems a million miles from the opener, that about 4,000 teenagers from London are being exploited and trafficked every year.

Tricky Dicky's laws

Because I have been so punished by Tricky Dicky's laws, I can't help but notice the astonishing exaggeration that accompanies reporting that has much to do with that alleged world of drug selling.

Even people not born entrepreneurs might spot that to get kids to sell - or deliver - drugs that carry such an allegedly high price has to be close to financial suicide.

If a child comes to your door, and you happen to be of the type that wants drugs, are you likely to oblige a dear child asking for, what, £400 for the delivery? It's all against the law, so why not take the goods and just shut the door on the young face?

I've mentioned before that in my early days in journalism, I used to report on these very shaky stories of drugs misuse. It was all unfathomable to me, but like a good junior reporter, I accepted what authority said. Eventually, though, I went off in search of the truth.

I visited Amsterdam, of course. No problems there. I also travelled to Kathmandu for at that time it had not succumbed to American pressure over tricky Dicky's laws. You could buy all you might need in Nepal's government shops. The price was right and apparently the quality unbeatable.

People smoked the desired stuff in the street, and you could have hash cookies with coffee or tea at the local versions of Costas. A more peaceful, untroubled city would be hard to find.

Of course, the final straw for me came when the prosecutor persuaded the jury that alone in a stripped out racing yacht, I had brought drugs to UK, worth about £700 million, I think they said, probably offloading them to a helicopter or submarine from my closest point, 1,100 miles south of Lands End.

The sooner good sense rules and we treat these nonsense laws as our wiser forebears treated Prohibition, the better.

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

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