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.

WHICH IS the most beautiful country in the world? I'd say South Africa, and its gorgeous Cape Province is every bit as stunning from the sea as on land. But it has an odd legal system, Roman-Dutch law in which fate is decided by judges and never by twelve good men and true.

I navigated many cruising yachts round the Cape of Good Hope, and regular work like that took me to the Cape often. The Southern Ocean had taught me about handling wild weather, experience I could put to good use for wise world-cruising people preferred to employ professionals to take their sailing boats round that notorious headland.

Ship's Log 07 February | indoors and dwelling on hard won knowledge.
Wind NNW 8 knots | 1020 millibars
Clear sky | Moon 18°50'N 10 days 85%

I didn’t really know much about legal systems, but like most Brit visitors I would argue against their approach to so-called justice. I found it hard to understand how South Africans imagined that having their fate decided by two wise men could be preferable to our twelve good men and true.

These informal debates, surprisingly very close to the bar, were regular occurrences in local yacht clubs.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.

Fate gave me the chance to become an authority on the jury system – at least the approach and behaviour of one jury.

A measure of relief

And when at last the trial which followed the ambush began, I really felt a measure of relief. At last the nonsense of the prosecution would be thrown out, thanks to the good people on the jury benches. I would be going home soon, I thought.

The trial became the longest in an English court, and went on and on for almost 18 months. It was held in secret for some reason I didn't understand. So for a year and a half, a fellow who had argued in its favour came to witness how juries can be. Well, hopefully not all juries, but certainly how this one reacted.

My argument now is quite the opposite. Don’t rely on a jury. Don’t be as I was, absolutely certain that they'd be on my side, that they would spot the falsehoods. I’ll tell more tomorrow, or in the next couple of days, about our jury.

And I'll let you into a little irony that came through the letterbox the other day, too, as if I was being mocked for my previous ignorance, and arguments, and for the more recent hard won experience.

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