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.

Keen on your family history, then what a marvel ancient photography can turn out to be. After a few years, memory from the happenings of youth can be distorted by time, and seemingly become rather unreliable.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Watch the birdie ... Here were forebears photographed about 110 years ago. It was amazing to see my Dad as a baby, and his father as a young man, plus mother (a favourite grandparent) and his grandparents.
But photography! Family snaps could be Photoshopped, of course, and change reality more than somewhat, but what pleasure - and surprise - when you dig out original Box Brownie-type records of family history!

There’s no escaping reality then.

Some of the really historical shots of my family went up in smoke in Second World War bombing in Southampton.

However, ancient photos of family members who lived in the countryside had a much greater chance of surviving.

Sepia-toned shots

Which is where a portrait – a family snap, really – that turned up this week had lived its early years.

You can keep family trees and enjoy the ready history they reveal. But to see, to hold, sepia-toned shots of family ancients taken when they were alive can be astonishing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
With a great grandchild ... And this is the good man about 84 years later celebrating a rather grander birthday.
This week I found on the computer a photograph and immediately assumed it was a snap of paternal grandparents with their son, my father, and one of my brothers at the toddler stage.

It really felt amazing to go back in the years so spontaneously. Here I was entranced by a pic that must be, well, about eighty years old.

It felt astonishing, close to unbelievable, that some magical invention recorded their appearance from all that time ago and here it was on my screen.

‘Hello, Dad! Amazing to see you, Grandparents.’

A really ancient soul

And a really ancient soul in the photo, I thought, must be my grandfather’s mother who must have left the world quite a few some years before I arrived.

There was disappointment, though. I could see, there was no escaping, how memory had let me down. How different they looked in reality from the portraits held by memory.

I told my pleasure of it a younger brother, Chris, as he enjoys summer at his home in Gore, New Zealand. His prompt reply pointed out a rather notable oversight. Not my grandfather, he corrected. But my great-grandfather.

The fellow I took to be my father was actually his father. And the toddler was my father, born in 1909, five years before the First World War. Could it really be?

The appearance of forebears

Can one see – could l see - family faces and study and wonder over appearance of forebears more than a century after they watched for the birdie? It feels almost a miracle that we can.

None in the portrait is alive today, of course.

My father died in the first year of my completely unjust imprisonment. Thankfully, the toddler in that ancient pic, who went on for 90 years more, didn’t learn of the crazy allegation by a corrupt government agency. I continue the determination to clear my name.

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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