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.

Happy birthday, Dad, and the day – today - somehow feels more like it is his birthday than all those when he was here for birthdays, whistling as ever an obscure tune in his unusual off-the-tongue tone.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Close to departure time ... The birthday boy with wife, eldest and youngest.
In my youth, he was just my father, the disciplinarian, font-of-all-knowledge, and most aggravatingly a brilliant mathematician which I most decidedly wasn’t.

I couldn’t comprehend how he could divide, add, multiply with such ease.

An air raid

He suspected that mental laziness was the reason I couldn’t.

I entered the world during an air raid, I’m told, with strafing and bombing by enemy crew grateful for the ease of navigation Salisbury Cathedral provided.

He was at work, working on Spitfires, when I arrived.

As he did voluntary duty as a sort of street night-watchman in that ancient city, he missed my entrance altogether.

Memory includes him next in early boyhood as the disciplinarian, insisting that I ‘eat it all up’ at our appalling Sunday dinners.

I hated the taste, if that’s the word, of food during those war years of extreme rationing, and doubtlessly he hated the percentage of wages that went to buy the food, and the number of rationing coupons.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The clan close to departure ... Much of both sides of the family near the departure. Seems so odd that only three here are alive today.
Today it takes some believing to realise that no food was available for a family – or anyone – without coupons.

Rationed ration books

Back then you couldn’t get even a potato or a pea without the very rationed ration books distributed by the war-time government.

And yet, somehow, he found a way to keep the family together.

It was a family that grew to four little ones before he realised that England’s ration-less future, after bankrupting itself with the war, was light years away.

Somehow that brave, determined fellow arranged migration to a land that allegedly was swamped with milk and honey.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Products of the land of milk and honey ... Perhaps two decades after my father decided to migrate, this was the family.
And he included in our entourage his mother-in-law, and a brother-in-law, and in 1950 the eight of us emigrated.

Back at that time, God’s Own was rather a different place, and prospects looked bleak.

However, he was happy – or prepared – to learn hydro-electric engineering and use that in place of his aeronautical engineering skills. And he took us off to the bush.

We children old enough for schooling took our accents from posh English schools onto kiwi playgrounds, and suffered, were tortured endlessly until our accents modified.

I hated it

I hated it, and like most kids, I didn’t occur to me that the ribbing Dad would have taken from Kiwi workmates would have been so much more difficult and unending.

It’s much easier for a child to change an accent, of course, than it is for an adult.

I don’t doubt, thinking back now, that life was exceedingly challenging for him. Now I appreciate it enormously, and throw in a pilgrimage each year for his birthday.

The family sailed on the 20,000-ton ship, Orontes, leaving via Tilbury, on the Thames. So today’s pilgrimage was a good long walk beside the Thames. And every few paces I’d say, ‘Happy birthday, Dad’, sad that that brave and determined man couldn’t hear it.

It often seems to be an irony of being a father, particularly a father like him who is there for all of the kids' lives, that they have to die before the progeny wake up to all he did for them, and to really appreciate it.

Happy birthday, brilliant sadly-missed father!

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

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