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.

Meet Reyhan, a star of Sailing to Purgatory, who sailed with me without complaint through the ghastliest, scariest weather.

A rather pared down Reyhan was present, too, for the worst of the storms that Sal, and her crew of Reyhan and me, had to endure. When you come to it, you will learn that the prosecution want you to believe that there was no bad weather.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Obliging Basil ... Meet Reyhan, the sweet smelling sailorette who sailed wild waters with me. Well, perhaps, not exactly the Reyhan, probably more a cousin.

In many ways, the reaction from my mistress the sea at that time, through the Roaring Forties, was almost as disturbing as hearing such a gross deceit in a top court where honesty is supposed to be beyond question. Ah, well - I tell myself - a lesson in life that most people won't (rather happily) ever experience.

Yes, it was a solo long distance voyage, but Reyhan was a living basil plant, who had to put up with my conversation, while contributing to my diet, and never once complained.

Prominent in the story.

She appears in two places in the story. When a German couple encourage me to take them from Funchal to Porto Santo, Reyhan earns a mention. This excerpt from Chapter 24 is of a sailor who is to become very prominent in the story. I call her Sofie.

Sofie emerged with steaming mugs and part of a conversation on some aspect of art. She must have begun it below, presumably to herself or to Reyhan, the basil plant. I caught something about Cezanne and then the Giaconda's expression, and then another painter, but I missed his name or didn't recognise it. 'Well, speak of the German academia, and …' she leaned closer, 'you remind me of my professor, very much.'

Then in Chapter 39, Reyhan appears again, and again in a passage about Sofie. By now I am sailing towards the Southern Ocean, and dwelling on a regular theme, that very strange aspect of life, ageing, and what its limiting, restricting of aspects of life, and similarly what it's supposed to stop you doing.

At this moment, the debate raging within over this unwelcome age issue concerns its effect upon the lovely Damen Sofie, the great hope of my wild (and doubtlessly ridiculous) dreams. Today’s emails from the good lady include an excerpt from Wax, an old favourite. The lines really brighten me, so much so that loud cheering startles, Reyhan, the basil herb. Then I recognise suddenly another interpretation, probably not one that Rumi had in mind. Or maybe he did ...

When I see you and how you are,
I close my eyes to the other.
For you I become wax
throughout my body …

It signals that she will join me on terra firma, and then the penny drops that it also means exactly the opposite for which of us is the other?

Poor Reyhan. Well before the sailor had reason to recite, home is he sailor, home from the sea, or what became the homeport, poor Reyhan was no more than a happy, tasty memory. So I'd better reveal that this is not a ghost of that supportive plant, but a cousin spotted and bought from a discount supermarket.

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