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.

What would you like to learn today, or perhaps being a little more optimistic, what are you learning today? Or even more realistically, what would you like to be learning, if you could only find the time?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Noteworthy ... Even up on a mountain slope, notes can be taken qwuickly with shorthand. It's a skill that's not just very handy for sailing ... Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash - many thanks to Tyler and model and Unsplash.
Then, just when you’re thinking of the perfect reason for putting the idea off till tomorrow - which is so much wiser than rushing into things - you remember some of the subjects friends claim to be learning.

Very quickly you realise they are doing it - obviously - to shame you.

Really discouraging

Dwelling on the determination and eagerness of friends can be really discouraging.

Let me tell you about the learning projects of one or two of them in my life. It's infuriating.

One’s studying yoga, another is doing some senior study at university in grief counselling - good grief.

One boasts of spending an age perfecting handstands, or is it headstands, and another high finance, which I gather means investing lumps of your savings online, rather like a real-life game of Monopoly.

Inspired by my first sail in twenty years last month, imagination is prompting me towards a marathon voyage, and for that I need to refresh many skills.

Wads of info

So, yes, I am obliging me to learn, or relearn. Or to think about it.

If you were to see me at the gym these mornings, you would find wads of information propped up before me as if I were back playing in a band again.

You might think that a number of diagrams of sailing shapes should be there, must be there.

However, basics like sail curvature and positions from my singlehanded circumnavigation, and during those many, many years as a professional seafarer, have been tattooed indelibly into the senses.

No, what you’d see is Morse – dah dit dah dit, dit dah dah - CW (Continuous Wave) in the lingo, necessary for amateur radio and very much for emergencies.

Not exactly essential

You might be surprised to see quite a wad of typed verses, The Sea and the Hills, by Kipling, naturally, but plenty, too, of Shakespeare.

Such things are not exactly essential for making long voyages, but very nearly so, especially for long spells at the tiller. And the memorising is very good for the grey matter, something mature people need to exercise we're told, and really pleasant on shore for reciting on long walks.

You could be wondering about that page of squiggles. That’s to help me decipher my shorthand diary from that ghastly time of unjust captivity - eight years and fourteen days of horror. The purpose of relearning Teeline for the great mound of notes is for an appeal, and maybe for a story or two from that inhuman nightmare.

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

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