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.

When the grossest injustice makes you poor – nearly broke – it’s amazing what you learn to give up and yet manage to enjoy the limited pleasures of life.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
My favourite yacht ... eM on her final swallowing-the-anchor voyage. I am sailing her alone, photographed not very far from the Canaries, in the Atlantic, by my fiancee of the time. The gorgeous Farr 38 was snatched and confiscated by a crooked prosecution.
After I sailed around the world on my own and became a solo Cape Horner, I really didn’t want to return to journalism.

Why not become a professional yachtsman, I thought, and work on the sea.

After all, going to sea, particularly sailing across oceans, certainly feels right, and good, and what I should do.

I attended nautical college and graduated as a Department of Trade professional Yachtmaster. The work was great, I never lacked it, and took yachts on some very long passages indeed.

A few close calls

In my later fifties, and after a few close calls on the water – such as a losing a yacht and almost perishing in a liferaft, and surviving a month-long passage adrift on a mastless, engineless dinghy with only nuts and raisins for food.

It felt as if Fate might well be nudging me towards early retirement.

I sailed off on my last voyage, my swallowing-the-anchor 8,000-mile retirement passage, telling the story of that wonderful, exciting and extraordinary voyage in my book, Sailing to Purgatory.

When the hurricane season began, altering course to Britain seemed a good idea. However, in the Bay of Biscay, the mainsail tore almost in two.

I had no choice really but to abandon the route to noble Albion and sail south into a region of fair weather. The voyage ended eventually in South Africa.

I came to UK with the fiancée I had met in the Canaries, after the mother of my daughter Emily asked if I might look after her for the school summer holidays.

I really thought I would end up on the street, begging and busking for a crust or two. Instead, I found a brilliant side to British life that is very, very far removed from crooked injustice.

A highlight of the holidays was visiting dear friends, Gerry and Pat Adamson, in Hampshire … and I was ambushed. The unforgettable date was 1st September 1999, just a moment or two before noon.

The Customs people insisted I was a smuggler and rushed me to London. Astounded by the drama, I still believed I would be ok.

Envy of the world

After all, wasn't English justice the envy of the world? Thankfully, I had no idea then that I would not emerge for eight years and 14 days.

The horror of that gross injustice by a prosecution which I feel sure soon realised that the charge was false is touched on in Sailing to Purgatory.

What I would like to show here is how perhaps even a little self-discipline lets you survive without funds.

I really thought that I would end up on the street, begging and busking for a crust or two. Instead, I found a brilliant side to British life that is very, very far removed from crooked injustice.

Let me continue tomorrow and tell you more of this appalling real-life nightmare and what parts of a normal diet it isn’t difficult at all to do without. As people who like a tipple might recognise, I expected the absence of wine to be the cruellest blow. It wasn’t.

In fact, it is surprising how much of our normal diet we can go without, and after a week or two almost hardly even notice.

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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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook and Blogger.

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