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.

Once you've been demonised - something justice here seems to relish - to stumble suddenly upon a newspaper report containing your name can be a real heart-stopper.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The vile demonising stuff churned out about me after the bamboozled jury's conviction - published in all sorts rags around the world - seemed to reveal the fiction writer lurking in bureaucrats paid for pushing out such appalling vitriol.

An ancient press cutting arrived in my inbox from that brilliant artist Bob Abrahams and his talented photographer daughter, Miriam. The first thing I saw was my name and photo. A sort of dread gagged my spirit.

After the jury's decision I had read how an armed group of agents boarded my yacht, found a huge quantity of drugs, and dragged me off. Utter nonsense, of course. No armed boarding, no boarding at all, and certainly no illegal cargo.

The sea and survival

I didn't come within a thousand miles of UK. The only drama on board involved a torn mainsail, certainly serious enough, but something concerning only the law of the sea and survival.

However, the news item from the Abrahams told of my rescue from a liferaft in the South Atlantic. It is dated an almost unbelievable 24 years ago. It was gentle, even flattering.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.

Journalist Ted Oliver referred to me as 'one of the world's most experienced single-handed yachtsmen'. As the popular expression goes, what's not to like about that?

I hadn't seen that news item before - so belated thanks to Ted Oliver. A slight error: I was born in Salisbury. I'm a Moonraker not a Kiwi, but Ted wasn't to know that.

A truly brilliant rescue

It was around midnight that I saw a light in the distance. Second officer Stepnik Slawomir heard my distress call immediately. Captain Raja Maitra very skillfully navigated that huge container ship right up to the raft in the big sea running. It was a truly brilliant rescue. Thank you, Stepnik and Raja, and all of the compliment of Nordlight.

Talk about topical. This drama is the very subject of the story I am currently writing, working title, Adrift. Many thanks to Bob and Miriam for finding and sending on this ancient report.

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