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.

We're looking at life in a corner of the world we almost never see, the kingdom - believe it or not - of Tonga. Yes, kingdom's the handle island authority assumes.

The author is John Northcott, a fellow Moonraker who migrated Down Under some years ago. He worked for the government in his civil engineer, but when economic problems took hold in New Zealand, followed some interesting vocations.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Mirror image ... A keen amateur photographer, John reflects on the creative photographer at work.

He manufactured jewellery in sterling silver, stood in for Father Christmas each year the sleigh failed to reach the Antipodes, became an expert plongeur dans un restaurant, and good-looking fellow that he is, found plenty of work as a film extra.

Here's the second part of a short tale that followed a long stay in that South Pacific paradise, the Tongan arquipelago.

Studying our hero

I’ve divided the short story into three episodes. John’s tale is entitled Palangi, which the website Tongan Translator tells us means a ‘white person’.
PALANGI. John Northcott's story so far:

The storyteller, perhaps a local schoolboy, seems unfamiliar with the look and ways of Europeans and has been studying our hero, as the palangi recovers his luggage from the ship that brought him to Tonga.
The young narrator is surprised to find him arguing with Customs people, but then recognises that it might well be a ruse to avoid Customs dues. It works and the subject of payments is waived and the mood changes swiftly …

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ho ho ho ... Defnitely the real Santa explaining to John's son why emails to Santa's address need to go via the chimney rather than the web.

Perhaps he wasn't really angry ...

But then he was so nice and polite to the customs man and didn't have to pay duty. Maybe he wasn't really angry at all, perhaps he was just being clever.

I heard there were some good things in the tea chests (unloaded from the ship). There was a coat for Alisi and an electric sewing machine for Sesika who is the palangi's sister-in-law.

His wife showed her how to use it, but when Sesika tried, the cloth shot out of it at very fast. So his wife is clever too.

A Korean bandit

There was a hat for Latu. The palangi said it made him look like a Korean bandit. What's a Korean bandit?

I can't decide if he is an important man or not. Yesterday, he played with us. He carried Sefo around in the sack that a sucking pig came in and then put him in the umu pit. (Umu is an earthoven, says Tongan Translator.)

Everyone shouted Puaka because that's where the pig will go to be cooked. He had to stop after that and help Latu to make a table for the Methodist Conference feast.

But then he was invited to an utu and they presented him with some of the yams they had harvested. He made a speech and gave most of them back. He was invited to meet Havea, our chief, and Havea has even visited him.

Salesi, who is Havea's son invited him to dinner as well. So, I don't know...
More tomorrow ...
Previous episode here ⇒⇒

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