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.

It's Father's Day and the perfect time to remember a great man who certainly did his best, both in wartime and for the greater length of his life, as a dedicated family man, a father, and in many ways a guiding light from childhood.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Birthday boy ... Dad entertains grandchild Caellin on his 85th birtday.

Let me introduce my Dad, Eric, a good man, who relatively suddenly found himself with an increasing brood as his hometown came under intense bombing in the early Second World War.

As the fashion was back in my early years, he was the disciplinarian in the household. Heaven help you if he felt the need to act as executioner.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Count down ... Robert Donat and Elissa Landi in the 1934 film version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Thanks to Wikipedia. By United Artists - Photoplay, April 1936 (page 52), Public Domain,
He had what seemed a heavy hand, which in those times was fashionably applied to bare buttocks at a powerful rate.

For any stage of childhood, to be 'smacked' is a truly horrible experience.


The blows were painful but perhaps worse was the criticism of the executioner, the condemnation in his voice.

Thank heavens society has grown out of that fashion. Of course, back then bombs were falling all around, and I don't doubt that the atmosphere at his workplace in the Spitfire industry was exceedingly tense.

But at heart he was a good fellow, and really courageous.

On the lighter side in a part of Southampton littered with bombed-out houses, he would entertain the growing family with one of his passions.

Home movies

He was entranced by home movies, made his own, and borrowed some splendid old films.

Robinson Crusoe was one the family saw often, and another that stands out in memory is The Count of Monte Cristo.

The imagination was certainly needed to enjoy the performances, for Dad's 9.5mm cine projector did not have sound.

Of course, the films were subtitled, but perhaps after the early years weaned on air raid sirens, and the booms of exploding bombs, an additional magic felt present in those quiet evenings with only the projector's ticking for sounds.

It's decidedly ironic that the film that stands out most in my memory should be the tale of an unjustly incarcerated man.

As my attempts to get justice continue, it is reassuring to know that Dumas' story, in the words of Britannica, ... 'offers an unusual reflection on happiness and justice, omnipotence, and the sometimes fatal haunting return of the past.'

As a tribute to Dad's memory, I have begun reading Alexandre Dumas's novel, which is even more enjoyable after those odd cinematic nights.

Dad's dynamic side

And there was my Dad's dynamic side. With a handful of very young children, he arranged fares to New Zealand for a maternal grandmother, her son, my mother, of course, and four little, well, brats.

We left our terribly bombed home city to somehow reach out-of-the-way Tilbury docks and began the enormous journey to the other side of the world.

When the family arrived, at last, my father changed from his aeronautical work to engineering in hydro-electrics, having to live away from the family for many, many months while a temporary town was built in the King Country bush, where conditions rewrote the definition of basic.

Even so, he lived to his nineties.

A very happy Father's Day, Dad.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly 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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