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.

The storm the day before Valentine’s Day that I mentioned yesterday was far from my main worry down there in the Roaring Forties on the final journey of a professional yachting career, on that swallowing-the-anchor voyage.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The final voyage ... My gorgeous yacht photographed in mid-North Atlantic by Sofie and snatched by a corrupt prosecution.

I might have been close to retirement age and might have been at least a thousand miles from the nearest human, but I worried most about a woman, a very special person.

Three-into-two won’t go

As mentioned, the weather’s rage caused any number of sail changes.

Sometimes the yacht wore a little canvas as she battled with the elements, sometimes with only bare poles when the storm gusted too hard.

It was almost Valentine’s Day and my hoped-for Valentine dominated my thinking all alone down there in the Southern Ocean.

My book of that last voyage, Sailing to Purgatory, tells of falling very heavily for Sofie, an amazing sailor who I had left behind on the last anchorage back in the North Atlantic.

The decision would be hers

Sofie was part of a three-into-two won’t go triangle, and doubly sadly because I admired her fellow.

I tried to be a gentleman, tried tactics not to get involved, but, well, Cupid will have his way.

I had certainly fallen in love and the best option, the most gentlemanly thing I could do, seemed to be to sail away, leaving Sofie – much younger than me - to decide her future herself.

Then it would be up to her whether to keep the relationship going, or to split up, and to join me on land once I reached the final harbour.

I sailed from the island alone on that Christmas Day and a few weeks later, down in the Roaring Forties, encountered some really challenging weather.

A crooked prosecution's plans

A man being a man, my main worry though was whether Sofie would join me. We emailed through amateur radio regularly, even through the extreme weather.

I didn’t try to pressure her, or anything like that. I certainly hoped and worried.

As yesterday’s blog suggested, I hoped Sofie and I would become an old married couple. Unbeknown to me, far away a crooked prosecution desperately in need of a smuggler learned of my voyage and decided to make me the defendant.

The prosecution said my worry down there in the Southern Ocean was only to do with the drugs I allegedly carried. The weight of their imagined illegal cargo was heavy enough to have sunk the yacht, but that didn’t seem to matter to the jury.

Foul weather, the prosecution mocked, existed only in my imagination.

My dream was that Sofie would join me for the rest of my life. The prosecution and their crooked plan ensured that the dream would be a nightmare with a great lump of the rest of my life spent with huge numbers who most certainly failed to resemble Sofie in any way.

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

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