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.

Am I alone in wondering what real story lies behind the very odd Parliament groping scandal? A seemingly good man in a powerful position resigns because he touched the knee of a lady journalist back in 2002. Touched her knee! Dear God, whatever next?

And wasn't that 15 years ago, and is the knee such a forbidden region of the anatomy?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Witches as they were 600 years ago ... A section of Baldung Hexen's portrait of the victims of an earlier form of witch hunting. By Hans Baldung - Source: R. Decker, Hexen, Frontispiz (2004), Public Domain, The picture

Please don't think that I'm criticising people in my old trade when I reveal that lady journalists aren't exactly famous for being frugal with their favours. What some exciting moments came my way thanks to their natural generosity.

It isn't as if we are living through a time of extreme prudity. Look at a mobile phone and the most blatant forms of reproduction leap out at you. Ask teachers about extra-curricular activities at school and you'll think that human biology is Number 1 favourite subject, going by the non-laboratory experiments played out in school grounds daily.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Witch hunter ... The dreadful Matthew Hopkins, a major negative in the witch-hunting of the mid-1600s. From a very rare print in the Pepysian Library, at Magdelene College, Cambridge. Wellcome Images Gallery:

Isn't modern dress by our misses aimed at accentuating the desirable difference between the genders?

A third gender

Isn't this a society that at long, long last admits that there is a third gender and has not just changed the laws of church and land to accommodate them, but includes them openly in the media, even sterilised the stigma?

And yet when politicians show an interest in doing what seemingly comes naturally - at least for the unelected - somehow or other we are to tut-tut, to castigate them thoroughly, to be shocked to the quick.

It must be sheer coincidence that excellent This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. runs an excerpt from Haunted by Leo Braudy, a study of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins and witch hunters of the 17th century. It reveals some of the appalling fates that so-called witches suffered at the hands of, well, looneys. Interesting that almost all the victims were women, and older women.

Some historical balance?

Perhaps victimising men in this current witch hunt brings some historical balance. And, perhaps like the witch hunt in the middle 1600s, the mud-slinging and worse gives the gossiping classes - all of us - something to get their teeth into, to forget the vitally important work our leaders are supposed to be doing.

Back in the female witch-hunting days, the allegations were that the grand old ladies were shagging Satan, not to put to fine a point to it, plus 'combinations of the diabolical and the sexual'. And now it's 'The animal touched her knee!' 'The brute's hand touched her bottom!' Should capital punishment be reintroduced!

Of course we are being distracted for a reason. What could it be? Um, surely not as I suggested, to hide from us the in-fighting and squabbling, and the indecision from you-know-what

By the by, when I mention my experience of lady journos, please know that I'm not including the knee-touched victim, who speaks of her own shock that the government minister should go, should it be because of her. And good for her for speaking up.

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

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