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.

I RECALL thinking 'At last!' when finally the former customs department's botched sort-of investigation that they called Operation Extend reached court.

A number of attempts at getting a trial going began and ended quite quickly. Getting this far seemed as if soon there would be a final curtain to this unending nightmare of months and months in prison waiting. My daily diary noted them all, but the experience was too horrible to have me translate those shorthand strokes even now. Eventually, the actual trial began.

Ship's Log 08 ii 2017 | Woolwich
near 51° 29' N x 0° 5' E | Wind NE 6 knots Barometer 1020 | Occasional rain Temperature 2°

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The well of the courtroom in South-East London was packed, absolutely packed with defendants and their lawyers, three for each of the, what, fourteen or so defendants, and all paid for by the taxpayer.

The jury members were called and chosen, or whatever the process is that accepts some and shuns others.

Class distinctions

Our awful class distinctions were very obvious almost immediately, even before any of them uttered a word, it seemed. And, naturally, the mixed origins of modern Britain were very apparent. Importantly, I wondered, did they all understand their role? Soon I had reason to doubt it. It's not that they weren't told what was expected of them, although of course they had no idea, and nor did we, that the trial was going to drag on and on to historic proportions - 18 months.

I began to feel quite quickly that some didn't have the nouse to understand their duties, or perhaps they came with their own agenda. One or two acted almost right away as if their role was to deliver a guilty verdict. I wondered if they didn't spend an age before a mirror at home honing up the famous Colosseum thumbs down signal.

Do I sound biased? Of course I do, and I was and I am.

I'll just choose one example tomorrow to show you that the people in the jury box did not understand their role - or didn't accept it. Fortunately for relative, comparative, peace of mind at the time I wouldn't recognise what was becoming obvious. They were there to assist the prosecution. I will show you what I mean with tomorrow's blog.

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