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.

Years after our writer of Sailing to Purgatory ended his long prison sentence, the state finally returned many of his possessions the defence had been holding.

My home was not included, nor my yacht, not my life savings, reputation, my fiance. However, many documents were included which at the very least suggest that former Customs department lawyers must have been aware of falsehoods in their case against me.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Logged passage .... A damaged mainsail caused the yacht to turn back more than a thousand miles from Britain.

The prosecution in England's longest criminal trial, which must have known what I am going to reveal now, chose to ignore it, and, as it were, took the money and ran to their clubs to toast their ability at bamboozling an utterly bored jury, perhaps to praise their notion of justice, and cynically the infallibility of the jury system.

As the trial dragged on for 18 months, and involved a dozen or so defendants, each with three lawyers provided by the State, a fortune of public money must been squandered on that farce of a trial, as Sailing to Purgatory reveals.

From the returned possessions, here's the logbook which shows that it has been well examined by the prosecution. They have numbered the important passages. Thursday 27 August, 1998, the day the yacht came closest to UK, carries their number '13'.

In the 18-month trial, the prosecution eventually accepted that the yacht had been searched twice by a very aggressive gang of badge-wielders in St Lucia. Nothing illegal was found. When pressed to explain how the yacht could have been topped up with a huge load of drugs afterwards, the prosecutor had to gall to say it was managed by a submarine or an aircraft.

1,176 miles off

And almost unbelievably a majority of the jury believed him.

Section 13 reveals that after a thunder storm, the wind became light and the yacht sailed slowly East. At 0200, Start Point, the closest part of Britain, lay 1,176 miles off.

The log records that by 0945 I had discovered that the damaged mainsail was unstitching and a section was torn.

I write, '... after lots of thought, decide to head for Madeira to get a replacement main. To Funchal waypoint, 624.3 (nautical miles).'

By midday, the yacht's position is 39 46.5N x 26 39.4W. The entry for noon reads, 'Dodging squalls in the trough. And spotting another rip beginning in the main - just above #2 reef cringle. This stuff isn't good for my nerves.'

The marks by the prosecution must surely show that the former Customs department lawyers realised that the yacht could not have sailed anywhere near Britain.

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