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.

I’m a natural optimist – you have to be to go to sea, of course – but this morning as I stepped into the garden I admitted that I was confronted with a boring, utterly dismal scene on a dark, rain-splattered, sopping truly miserable day.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
High flyers ... Birds migrate across vast distances, yet you won't find one carrying a modern GPS, not even a mobile phone with a fancy application. And yet - somehow - they accomplish what humans can't without at least a sextant and the Nautical Almanac. Photo by daniyal ghanavati from Pexels and many thanks to Daniyal and Pexels
I thought, ‘Just the day to give suicide a positive feel.’

Then my heart gave a leap of pleasure as I was surrounded suddenly by flocks, actual crowds and crowds of minute birds.

And not just the garden birds I feed daily, but an astonishing collection of foreigners who obviously don’t care about the new government’s feelings over non-Brits.

The hedge that moments before had been prompting me for a belated trim now became the feeding ground for a bright variety of winter arrivals, tucking into aphid-like bugs, and enjoying the fruit from a branch that I purposely let grow as if it might be a tree.

So straight to Uncle Google to learn more about the very welcome visitors.

The hungry arrivals

I was directed to authority Doug Shapley, a conservation adviser for the Woodland Trust.

His article identifies very clearly the hungry arrivals, robins, chaffinches, bramblings and finches, plus a few more which were rather too quick on the wing for identification.

It seemed a miracle that they would turn up on such a miserable winter’s morning, particularly after the astonishing distance that these tiny critters travelled.

No Ryanair, EasyJet, or Flybe for them with movies and music and attractive hostesses bringing refreshments. If they want to travel – or are driven to – and from faraway places like Scandinavia, Russia and continental Europe, they must do it themselves, and astonishingly by instinct.

Little musical wonders

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Sweet tweets ... These amazing critters need no link to Twitter or gadgetry to offer all humans the most welcome tweets on a winter's day. Photo by Andree Brennan from Pexels and many thanks to Andree and Pexels
These mighty little musical wonders do it for themselves. Some travel by night. True, we have been experiencing some wonderful fullish-moon nights, but the gorgeous lunar light is above the clouds.

How do you know what sea you’re crossing, or if you are, and which is the right land for you? The price for faulty navigation is death.

And yet they do it successfully, though I know from my own voyaging that many do get lost over an ocean and land very gratefully on the deck, but seldom survive.

Here they are, though, in the garden, trimming the number of insect pests, passing on seeds of winter propagators, brightening up human lives and filling our ears with the most magical of notes.

Who could loathe winter after that?

I believe in a positive approach but, yes, well, perhaps I’ll modify the question to who could loathe winter so much thanks to these, well, highly welcome un-government documented immigrants, these courageous, astonishingly gifted natural navigators.

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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