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.

Fats Domino has died! Is it possible? Could it be? Why then is the world still turning, how could tonight’s six–day-old moon still reach its meridian with such perfect timing? How could such an influence in my youth no longer be part of our world?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Almost unforgettable ... Fats Domino singing Blueberry Hill on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. (The calculator must be wrong. Surely it couldn't be 61 years ago.) With thanks to Wikipedia. 'By DVD transfer of video tape, Public Domain, Link'
What a large part of my life was his music, only I should confess that this important musical guide from the formative years hasn’t actually surfaced in my thoughts for many a long decade.

Once, though, his music seemed more important than oxygen, and was analysed constantly by the inner me and passed to the lips and blasted in as near a replica as a trumpeter could manage.

A dance band

As a youth, I played in what in those days was termed a dance band. Now we’d be a group. Basically we were piano, drums, and trumpet, and occasionally joined by a very accomplished violinist. I was the youngest, and very influenced by music of the time.

We played at old fashioned dances – and our music was already very old-fashioned back there in the middle to late fifties.

Our repertoire was decidedly what had been popular in WW2, and earlier. And it seemed the others were happy for it to stay that way.

However, when I heard Fats, real-name Antoine Domino Jr, I was a changed being and rock’n’roll became the Number One musical big love. Looking back, it hadn’t turn me away from serious music, but it certainly became the sounds that I wanted most to play.

Many arguments followed in the band, and it took some time before my passion won additions to our repertoire. But it did and Ain't That a Shame and Shake, Rattle & Rock!, and The Girl Can't Help It became familiar notes blasted from the Boosey and Hawkes’ flaring bell.

My music tutor

A locally-famed dance band trumpeter, Harry Strang, a very unamused fellow, had been my music tutor. I played a few notes of a Fats Domino tune to him, having assured him that it was the music of the future. He couldn't have agreed less, and so strongly that I was soon no longer invited back for tutoring.

Like modern groups, the band broke up after two or three years. We went our separate ways, one to what must have been a horrible route to his maker in a fall between railway carriages - said back then to have been suicide - but others through more regular routes, marriage and promotion away from the city.

I like to imagine that we all carried Fats Domino sounds in our hearts as we got on with life, even if his interpretation of music became less prominent with the effect of time on taste as the years passed.

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

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