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.

Like a good house-trained fellow, I visited the supermarket for the food for a day or two, leaped on my bike, and began cycling energetically home.

The cycle route passes over a bridge over a slight but historic stream. I stopped to admire one of the stream's daffy Coot birds. I climbed back onto the bike, and started increasing the pressure on the pedals.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Sole witness ... Did the sweet Coot waterbird witness the accident beside the busy highway? Photo of a Fulica atra swimming in the river iItchen in Southampton. Source Photo by user:geni Author Geni; Permission (Reusing this file) GFDL CC-BY-SA

The next moment, so it seemed, I was looking up into the faces of a small crowd. Two ambulances waited nearby.

Something had happened, some drama, that knocked me from the bike. It was as if I woke part-way through a nightmare, and only after a few moments was I aware of considerable pain, and splashes of blood from wounds on my face and arms.

That was Monday evening. I was rushed to the excellent St George's Hospital, and squeezed into their trauma ward.

Trauma ward

I couldn't have wanted for better carers, for more empathy, and for that matter more bandaging. A very bruised, bloody, and curious fellow was to spend the night and almost another day there.

I didn't know what happened, the medics could only guess, and tomorrow – if recovery continues to progress – I will visit the scene to see if I can find tracks of a vehicle that somehow almost-secretly bulldozed down my bicycle and its rider.

It's great, even astonishing, that we can live and learn from dramas in life, even one as potentially life-threatening as this. I've never experienced the non-awareness side of an accident before. I have no recollection whatsoever of the missing and brutal minutes. Why didn't I hear the vehicle's approach? Why didn't anyone report the collision? What will that grassy track beside the busy A240, the Kingston Road in the stretch to the Kingston Bypass, reveal?

I hope to be able to offer some answers to a personal and very painful experience tomorrow.

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

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