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.

Hardly had the final fullstop fallen into place on yesterday’s account of witnessing that extraordinary modern-day phenomenon of being able to see my own heart beating than today I was able to see my own hands - from the inside. And even more astonishingly, my brain.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Hands on ... The right hand that guided me round the world on my solo Cape Horner circumnavigation and the writing hand for a number of books, here rather crushed in the accident. How astonishing to get under the skin to see it.
Amazing, surely impossible, and yet there were the images in this morning’s mail, on a disk containing x-rays taken after my bike accident last month.

There was the left hand, and the right hand, bones, joints, outline … and astoundingly the brain in great detail.


Apologies if I seem overwhelmed by the extraordinary views of me from the inside, as it were. But I am.

When you’ve lived for a few decades under the will of the brain, it is astonishing to see one's lord and master, the driving force, in the flesh – or almost as good as.

The virtual x-ray photo album came by courtesy of an extraordinarily efficient side of the NHS, a side that we never usually hear about.

I asked at St George’s Hospital a little earlier this month about the chances of seeing the X-rays that the medical experts saw after my ugly bike accident.

Hoping for a quick glimpse

I hoped I might be allowed a quick glimpse over someone’s shoulder in some hospital laboratory.

I was directed to the X-ray Department, filled in a simple form, and at home today accepted a signed-for envelope from the hospital. And there was what the experts had examined, all filed neatly on a dvd, packaged within a neat Philips IntelliSpace PACS MediaViewer. Amazing!

Amazing to see and amazing to be able to keep, perhaps not exactly for a family colour slide evening, but really pleasing to have.

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