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.

Apologies! I began the articles, the blogs, this week with the promise that I would reveal how relatively easy it is to give up some of the tastes we have enjoyed for much of our lives, and in my case, more years than I can remember.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Locked away ... Life, everything, changes in prison. Photo by kyryll ushakov on Unsplash
I was side-tracked – self-side-tracked, it’s true - by dwelling on the reasons why I had to give up many favourite tastes.

As you probably guess, it wasn’t for health reasons such as when the GP says no more sugar and jam.

Circumstance dictated, and dictate, the need. But, contrary to what I expected, giving up many favourite foods was surprisingly simple. Very soon, I didn’t miss them.

Suffering helps

The cause, the need to adjust the diet came from injustice, and it’s more than likely that suffering injustice helped enormously with coping.

Get stuck in a prison cell for eight years and 14 days, and a change of diet and tastes loses any importance.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Belmarsh, Hellmarsh ... After sentence, I learned here that the sentence just handed down to me was longer than an airliner hijacker's whose bombing took 259 lives.
At first, the sentence was for 19 years, which the BBC's Radio 4 told me back in the maximum security prison was two or three years more than the Lockerbie bomber, who caused 259 deaths, was serving.

The enforced diet was helped, too, by the shock of being found guilty for smuggling drugs, which I am sure the prosecution knew I didn't do.

It hurts to be betrayed by a system I had believed in for all my life.

The truth is that not only did I not do it, I couldn’t have done it for at least two excellent reasons, which the prosecution knew, although only admitted it near the end of the in-camera trial. I was sailing alone when the mainsail suddenly ripped almost in two ... I could sail only downwind, and downwind meant sailing south, certainly not northwards to home.
The truth is that not only did I not do it, I couldn’t have done it for at least two excellent reasons, which the prosecution knew, although only admitted it near the end of the in-camera trial.

Ripped mainsail

I was sailing towards Britain alone when the mainsail suddenly ripped almost in two in the Bay of Biscay. It meant I could sail only downwind, and downwind meant sailing south, certainly not northwards to home.

Eventually, the prosecution had to admit that I sailed no closer than eleven hundred-plus sea miles offshore.

They grudgingly admitted, too, that the yacht had been searched most aggressively twice in St Lucia, only two weeks or so earlier.

And as I tell in Sailing to Purgatory, the yacht had been not just searched by the most aggressive Customs men I have had the displeasure of dealing with, but was completely emptied by them, too.

Of course, no drugs were found because I am not a smuggler.

Cynics might scoff

Cynics might scoff that if I defied Tricky Dicky’s drugs law, I was fortunate indeed to have had the sentence reduced to nearly 3,000 days.

The experience helped with dieting needs – for the prosecution stole almost all my life savings and possessions, including my wonderful yacht – but it certainly didn’t give me any respect for non-sensical drugs laws.

Devious Tricky Dicky’s version of Prohibition is an affront to thinking humans, just as alcohol Prohibition proved to be.

Oops, oh dear, here I am still not passing on the advice about dieting, which certainly isn’t recommending prison to make it easier.

Cross my fingers to offer the advice tomorrow ….

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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