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.

As dawn broke and frost began to thaw, or began thinking about about thawing, encouraging news arrived from Amazon. 'I'm pleased to tell you that we're preparing your copies of Sailing to Purgatory for dispatch now.'

Hooray! That means the books are here now, even if a few days late, and are being distributed throughout Britain and soon around the world.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Heart-stopper of a surprise ... A pleasant shock at my favourite Lidl supermarket. What's that on the checkout counter? 'Very interesting,' said the shopper, but couldn't be drawn on the plot.

Hardly had a spoonful of porridge been consumed than an update dropped into the inbox. 'We thought you'd like to know that we've dispatched your items.

'Your order of Sailing to Purgatory is on the way.'

Yesterday, the publishers proved that my story has become a book. I was able to grasp, hold onto, Sailing to Purgatory, in book form. At last! I held it and couldn't help but recall the years that had gone into it, beginning with my last 8,000-mile solo voyage in 1998 and 1999.

Ambush, arrest and imprisonment followed on the 1st September 1999. Then nine months of waiting in prison for justice to begin. Then England's longest criminal trial began and dragged on for 18 months in camera.

Bored and misguided

Finally that strange group of bored and misguided jurors returned a guilty verdict, and I remained imprisoned till mid-September 2007.

I began writing Sailing to Purgatory at the start of 2008, and after eight almost complete rewrites, found a publisher brave enough to publish. The publishing house reviewed the manuscript in December 2015, accepted it in late January, 2016. And then released it, well, as I was seeing, more or less today.

However, yesterday came the most extraordinary experience of opening a parcel from Olympia. I took out a book, a real-live paperback, with the title Sailing to Purgatory, and opened its pages.

I hope very much that many others will share at least a little of the excitement that the look of these printed pages gave, and gives, me.

Thanks for visiting the blog

P S By comparison, the book that I hope will follow it - working title Adrift - and which is close to completion now, took eight days to experience.

It tells of eight days with a brave young woman in a liferaft in mid-South Atlantic, close to the Roaring Forties. Soon we were surrounded by a growing number of sharks, and battered by a succession of gales. On the quite desperate eighth night, I spotted a distant light. Second officer, Stepnik Slawomir, on watch on the Cypriot-registered container ship, Nordlight, heard my Channel 16 Mayday call.

Nordlight was 12 miles away, and in the region quite by accident. Captain Raja Maitra brought the huge ship up to the tiny liferaft and safely alongside.

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