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.

You certainly discover how much humans depend on water when you visit a drought-stricken part of our world like Cape Town. I’m here working on a new story, where a severe drought is changing human behaviour and health.

Corruption, greed, indecision, and what looks like complete ineptitude, puts the health of a city of an estimated three and three-quarters million and its huge squatter groups, plus tourism of almost 1.2 million, at enormous risk ..
The province’s administration describes the drought as just about the worst ever, and promotes a huge campaign to get Capetonians to reduce drastically the amount of water their households use. It’s about to hit them with a massive water price hike.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The future? ... What if Nature or good sense doesn't oblige in the Cape. Might this be the view of probably the world's most beautiful ocean-fronting city? Photo by Dan Grinwis on Unsplash, with many thanks to both.

The city’s reservoirs are very low.

Because of its situation at the foot of Africa, dependable rain is restricted to winter usually and then normally in enormous abundance.

However, the Southern Ocean, which brushes the toe of the continent, simply didn’t oblige in the last southern winter.

Don't flush toilets

The drought is really grim for locals who are urged to restrict their showering to an absolute minimum, to use washing-up water over and over again, and not to flush urine from toilets.

What they don’t talk about – probably daren’t mention – is that the huge number of tourists here at present are at serious risk health-wise from the army of restaurant staff who survive somehow in appalling ghetto camps around the city.

If hygiene is at an all-time low for households, imagine what it must be like in the squatter camps. (Or, if you are a visitor here, don’t! It’s better for peace of mind not to imagine ‘life’ in those make-shift townships.)

Stuart Lowman, writing in, sums it up this way, ‘As it comes to grips with the worst drought in a century, the City of Cape Town hasn’t cut off the water supply yet but the extreme restrictions in place take it pretty close.

Wasting drinkable water

‘Abiding by the required regulations in place to save water is an eye opener. Firstly, in how much we rely on water but also in how much we waste it – especially drinkable water.

‘Many lessons can be learned when pushed to extremes and in the 1970s Joni Mitchell famously sang ‘You don’t know what you got till it’s gone’.

Stuart writes, ‘A place with little water is bad enough, unlivable with none …’

A vast ocean sweeps billions of tons of salt water past this beautiful city, but the winter rains have been so abundant and reliable until recent times, no serious effort seems to have been made to build desalination plants.

Corruption, greed, indecision, and what looks like complete ineptitude, puts the health of a city of an estimated three and three quarter million people and its huge squatter groups, plus tourism (up 20%) of almost 1.2 million, at enormous risk, not to mention gross inconvenience for the people.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for Sailing to Purgatory, the book of my last oceanic voyage, 8,000 miles to what ought to have been a happy retirement from my mistress, the sea. However, it was just about the exact opposite ...

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