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.

I knew my elder brother was ill but the news of his death this morning came as a very real shock, not just family-wise but also to personal planning and to that place where we store the expectations of life, right into the inner sanctuary where stowed are the prospects of our own likely time on the planet.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Brothers ... An old family shot of Peter (standing) before the illness struck, with brother Steve (far left), Peter, my father, my father's brother Tony, and brother Chris.
Peter was an adventurous fellow, though in quite a different way from me.

I wanted to explore the world out there - the oceans - and he seemed happier to explore the ways of society, of people, on land.

Adventurous and daring, not distracted by a lack of funds, he founded the first children’s newspaper in New Zealand, Junior Kiwi, and the very first Sunday newspaper, which he had as a giveaway in the days before giveaways became normal.


I helped with both projects. I was editor, labourer, lifter of great stacks of newspapers, the deliverer. We manned the phones, no magic of mobiles in those days, and yours truly also acted as a full-time reporter, and helping him with all that went with getting the projects to the public.

We were Poms. The family had emigrated to New Zealand when we were children.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Peter as a father ... Well into the disorder which robbed him of life, Peter is consoled by his wife.

Peter seemed to feel at home almost instantly. Something of a magnetic nature reached out from Britain for me, and in early adulthood, I returned home, as it seemed to me.

Peter wrote powerfully and insistently about injustice when I was subjected to a corrupt trial.

A great following

When I was released in 2007, he spoke of a desire for a website that could prompt consciences about failings in society.

I helped get it launched and did the coding and web development and sub-editing.

His drive and good intentions encouraged well-established writers like John Northcott to contribute regularly. He had a great following, but it came to an end when ill-health robbed Peter of his energy. His death today came just a few weeks from this eightieth. Eighty! Sounds huge, but it isn’t so old these days.

I’ve been toying for some time with the notion of sailing round the world again. I passed Cape Horn alone on Spirit of Pentax aged just 40. How fantastic to do it again when I’m eighty.

A To Do list

In that ‘when I’m 80’ To Do list are many more books, too, articles, short stories, even blogs.

And why not? Only today, the end of Peter, not quite 80, is why not. At least for the moment his passing scuppers my plans which included hopefully inspiring mature others, too.

Peter’s death encourages, prompts, nags, urges me to think more seriously about being eighty. Yesterday, previously, I felt that the final curtain might well be no closer than 11 or 12 years after 80, as it was with our father.

Now, perhaps four score years might well be a sort of full stop. I hope not. A side of me protests still that it simply can’t be.

But Peter’s departure certainly has me rethinking a great deal about what might remain of life and its very worrying alternative...

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

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