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.

While we wait, um, patiently, for Sailing to Purgatory to arrive, let me tell you of another friend who would really like to have been here to see it - hopefully even to read it. Let me show you, too, the text he sent just before his sudden unexpected death.

Gordon Pringle was closely associated with publishing, representing Europe's publishing houses from his base in Cape Town.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Happier times ... Gorgon Pringle with his late wife Jenny, and family friend, Hilary Strickland, a keen supporter of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

I met him when my circumnavigation story, Loner, was published. I was present in Cape Town for a singlehanded race round St Helena Island and back.

Gordon was a great fellow, who became a good friend. I couldn't encourage him to come out sailing - wise man - but we did enjoy the treats of that magical city a few times.

Snatched my yacht

When the extraordinary end to my freedom happened, freedom that we take for granted, Gordon shared my upset and tried to help. But what can one man achieve against the might of bureaucracy?

The police snatched my yacht and it was confiscated. The press was encouraged to defame me, and it certainly put the knife in with not a thought for the truth, and all equipment and clothing, navigation books, and the like on board began quickly to vanish. I won't add more about that appalling time - it is still too distressing.

Gordon learned about the free-for-all and managed to grab a few items, including a Henri-Lloyd jacket that I rather treasured. Thanks to Gordon I wear it almost every day cycling.

I was visiting the Cape at the time Gordon died, almost totally unexpectedly. About a fortnight after we met, I heard that he had been taken to hospital. I called him but he said he wasn't up to a visit.

He sent a text a little later that day, only a day before he checked out of our planet. I often look at the message, trying to understand was he was trying to say. The text - or 'SMS' as they say down there - reads, 'Rttottdn worscan update whatever pen te then ever.' And a phone number followed.

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