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.

On the first of the month, I woke a little after midnight and without thinking chanted, ‘White Rabbits!’

The pot plants looked rather startled. I wasn’t exactly focusing with night vision mode but somehow I felt it.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Lucky for some ... It's what many, many people say hoping (perhaps with crossed fingers) that Lady Luck will be impressed. Photo by Francis Delapena on Unsplash

But declaring ‘White Rabbits’ to the ceiling?

As if proving that I must harbour considerable mental deficiency, I recalled that through life I had chanted that good luck phrase on the first day of every month through toddlerhood, and
    since school days on either side of the globe,
    on every sailing voyage that coincided with a first of a month, even on my circumnavigation near notorious Cape Horn,
    even in National Service training for Tricky Dicky’s devious war with Vietnam.

And why? Perhaps for a very similar reason that people begin and end their day with a prayer.

It’s what parents serve up to us long before we are able to reason. Tell a little child often that black is white, and he’ll never see it any other way.

... a person says or repeats the words rabbit, rabbits and/or white rabbits aloud upon waking on the first day of a month, to ensure good luck for the rest of it...
What gives suicide bombers the drive to blow themselves up?

Perhaps, probably, just about the same process, albeit that repeating superstition’s mantras can be happily less calamitous than a few religious observations we could name.

That crazy salute

The number of times the salute might be uttered in a lifetime is, well, surprising, especially as it doesn't seem to be limited to just a dozen times a year. Should I get as far as ninety-one like my father, I won’t just have conscientiously uttered the mantra 182 times.

Many of us may not be self-confident enough to feel sure that Lady Luck will have heard our double-word prayer at the crack of dawn on the first of each month. Just in case, it gets repeated once, then again, and probably many times through the day.

Pondering on those nutter performances, I looked online for reassurance.

Wikipedia reports, ‘Rabbit rabbit rabbit is a superstition found in Britain and North America wherein a person says or repeats the words rabbit, rabbits and/or white rabbits aloud upon waking on the first day of a month, to ensure good luck for the rest of it.'

The White rabbit is symbolic of love, tenderness, of magic and manifestations, reports the Quornesha website. ‘It is a message that some mystical work on your behalf is now working to your highest good.

‘The white rabbit appears as a sign that life will be all the more beautiful from here.’

I mentioned it the other day to a dear friend in Cape Town. ‘It didn’t seem to have worked on 1st September 1999, when a corrupt prosecution gang ambushed and arrested you.’

As I tell in Sailing to Purgatory, I remembered to address Lady Luck at dawn on that ghastly day, and as usual, repeated it many times through the morning.

And crazily it was offered at dawn on the ninety-eight first-of-the-month mornings that followed in that ghastly time of injustice.

Did it help? I wonder ...

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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