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.

Ask people to name the worst pain they’ve endured and a high percentage will give toothache that honour and perhaps mostly from childhood.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ouch! ... My childhood could have been worse, Wikipedia encourages with this illustration of 'A wealthy patient falling over because of having a tooth extracted with such vigour by a fashionable dentist' from 1790. Many thanks to Wikipedia
These days perhaps many won't know the experience because very luckily they belong to those who had the good sense to be born after the days when dental surgery was, well, sobering.

For instance, my father’s teeth came out in his youth, as with most of his friends.

That's about a century ago now.

Extractions

It seems that total extractions made up most of a dentist’s day back in his time.

I come from a, well, ancient time when family discipline approved a ‘hiding’ from fathers.

You might think that to a child awful physical attacks by an angry parent must amount to his most painful experience.

However, as severe and heavy-handed as my father was, for me and perhaps the majority, the very worst pain came via the dental chair.

Rather worse than normal

Given the circumstances, my experience might well have been rather worse than normal.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ouch ... Perhaps memory serves me badly, but this dental tool from the 17th Century looks remarkably similar to one used on me in childhood. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the image of 'Dental needle-nose pliers designed by Fauchard in the late 17th century to use in prosthodontics.'
In childhood, the family moved to New Zealand. ‘Not emigrated,’ counselled my school teacher grandmother. ‘We paid for our own tickets.’

My father swapped his aeronautical skills from the Spitfire manufacturer to hydro-electrics and we – the family – followed him into the back-blocks.

A new town was being built close to the growing dam on the mighty Waikato River, truly in the bush, and the family moved into a just built pinewood house.

Outside, the street was still being built. It led to a shop or two, soon a cinema, and a dentist’s shop.

The worst symptoms

Children can be relied on to develop the worst symptoms at inopportune times.

Hardly had the dental place opened than severe toothache turned this normally quiet lad into a screaming brat. (My poor parents.)

It won me almost the award of the dental shop’s first patient, possibly even the dentist’s first.

I wouldn’t have been his easiest.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Extraction ... Perhaps I wasn't really treated so badly three hundred years after this farmer in the Johann Liss portrait. Well, there was a chair for a start ...Thanks to Wikipedia for the photo of 'Farmer at the dentist, Johann Liss, c1616–17'
The sight of the instruments, the look of the massive hypodermic needle, the extracting tools which resembled those found in a handyman’s toolbox hardly inspired confidence.

As I sat there, eyes like saucers, the poor fellow seemed to struggle to recall appropriate moves from the dental school, assuming such an establishment existed in the young country back then.

The experience was beyond torture. At least, my Dad’s quite rare ‘hidings’ no longer seemed quite so painful.

Trapped underwater

Perhaps it helped, too, to put on a brave face in following years when I was knocked off a motorbike more than once, roughed up by muggers, and later suffered sea-sickness more times than I recall.

And among painful experiences, I was trapped underwater as a yacht I sailed alone turned turtle in a storm.

Memory of the basic dentistry long before helped with the misery, too, of eight ghastly days on a tiny inflatable liferaft close to the Roaring Forties, surrounded by a growing crowd of large tiger sharks.

Toothache came along much later in life, too, during the imprisonment I’ve mentioned on these pages, eight years of it engineered by a crooked prosecution.

The experience was distressing, yet I’m not sure it outdid common old toothache and nor that basic dentistry in formative years.

Escorted to a nearby town

I needed a dentist. In that particular prison, it meant being escorted to a nearby town.

Providence favoured me, I believe, and perhaps even made up for unjust prosecution and punishment a little by aiming me to a real gentle, careful and expert dentist, good Joe Narcisi.

He’s been mentioned on these pages before and certainly warrants the praise.

Not only did he overlook where I had just been brought from and that therefore I might be a dangerous criminal, but resolved the dental challenge painlessly in amazing time.

Joe’s practice is a couple of towns from my address, yet he’s the expert I head to every six months. Dental pain from childhood memories? Never experienced again, thanks, Joe.

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 and on Blogger,

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