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.

Remember your introduction to the internet? Who could forget the understandable drama associated as our brains encountered something totally new?

If, like me, your introduction was back in the late eighties, it seemed vital to hold your breath while attempting to manage anything with it.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
From the office to the bedroom ... Computers nowadays have a place everywhere. Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

If you didn’t, whatever you might have been trying to achieve, well, didn’t seem to – and no error messages back then said why not.

Big, massive, puzzling

For me, first came a copy of an IBM from Taiwan. It was big, massive, and it was heavy, and most of all puzzling.

In those years, I spent a lot of time in Cape Town thanks to the demand for professional yacht deliveries.

The giant machine captivated me very quickly. Once involved with its magic, leaving it behind while I sailed handsome yachts to distant shores became quite a challenge.

However, it wasn't and they weren’t exactly portable, but as soon as there were, I didn’t sail without a computer. I should say that desire to bring one along had little – mostly nothing – to do with sailing back in those days, though surprisingly it wasn’t long before programs appeared that let you actually watch your course on the sea on the screen.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A very early Apple ... Remember these? Times have rather changed. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the reminder.
In the early days, when sailing programs appeared, they came with warnings that they shouldn’t be relied on. One very popular navigation arrangement told amateur sailors to get familiar with it at home before taking it to sea.

Stuck in port

Many cruising yachtsmen didn't and I met many stuck in a port because they relied on their portable computer and program to do the navigation for them.

They hadn’t bothered with the warning - well, they said, they wanted to cruise from place to place.

They weren’t that interested in navigation and even less in computing.

They bought a computer and programs simply so they wouldn’t have to navigate. Their voyages didn’t take them far.

What sparked remembering those early days with what we take for granted nowadays was today’s Delancey Place email that carried an excerpt from the book, The Internet Turns Forty: First Message Crashed System, by Ker Than, and published by National Geographic News.

Remember your own first email? I recall watching the message grow on the screen, ready to send off to friends. Only, back then, few friends had email addresses.

Messages by semaphore

However, the one or two I could send and see answers arrive brought a similar feeling from days in Scouts when friends swapped brief messages by semaphore.

The book offers encouragement for all suffered those early frustrations, often caused - although we might not have admitted it - by overlooking simple rules.

Ker Than reveals, ‘On October 29, 1969, [the] message ['lo'] became the first ever to travel between two computers connected via the computer network that would become the Internet.

‘The truncated transmission travelled about 400 miles between the University of California and the Stanford Research Institute.

‘The electronic dispatch was supposed to be the word 'login,' but only the first two letters were successfully sent before the system crashed.’

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

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