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.

Courageous Jeanne Socrates approaches one of the most dangerous sea areas in her bid for international seafaring stardom down there in the Southern Ocean, now south of West Australia, and closing on the notorious Great Australian Bight.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Closing in on extreme danger ... Singlehanded sailing superstar Jeanne Socrates approaches the very wild Great Ocean Bight, but her log snubs the area and its tempestuous dangers.
And yet as she closes in on this highly tempestuous and moody part of the great Southern Ocean, the 76-year-old ignores danger all around.

Instead she muses on problems with communications.

She apologised for not being able to keep some assigned schedules.

Gusting over 45 knots

At 11:30am yesterday, she added, ‘Just got back down below after lowering trysail and stowing/tying it down ready for deploying a drogue later today.

‘Winds are expected to be over 35 knots, gusting over 45 knots, from later today through to Tuesday, with six metre seas - seven for a time, as well. I decided to be safe, although I was really hoping to be able to keep going...'

I’ve been in almost exactly the same position in that horrendously risky part of a highly risky Southern Ocean and marvel that the likely danger doesn’t dominate her thoughts.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Nonchalante lady ... Jeanne back in harbour when her present very daring voyage was still a dream.
My first visit was in childhood when the family migrated after the war to New Zealand on board the good ship, Orontes.

Raging storm

She was a huge ship, 20,000 tons, yet the raging storm in the Great Australian Bight seemed – to the very wide eyes of a child – to be almost lain on her side.

My next time was during my singlehanded Cape Horner voyage in the rather eccentric schooner, Spirit of Pentax.

My book, Loner, (Hodder and Stoughton) records the mighty storm that the brave yacht endured.

Captain Fantastic lay at the mercy of this incredible show of nature gone out of control … we were like a bottle, floating, tossing, moving with the might, never resisting.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
As the schooner was shoved by mighty unseen shoulders, she went with the blow, there being no reverse curve, no counter forces to try to stop the assault.

We skidded down a wave, came upright, slid and skied forward, bashed, sliding, skidding now. Always nimbly going with the forces.

On board it was frightening, holding on as the surface of the sea seemed to disappear below us, but we were not shuddering under the blows.

I was excited by the scene, knowing I was part of this incredible exhibition for a one-man audience, yet I did not doubt we would survive this particular storm.

I could see her reaction to the monsters all around and I was filled with admiration for her courage and sheer genius.

Thanks very much for visiting the Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory

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