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.

Days of the month just happen maybe, but not so the third of March - today - for me. One is the memory of a super happening, and one very scary indeed.

I don’t doubt many more ghastly dramas made this date especially dramatic.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The lost yacht ... This valiant yacht sank after running into a container one night just before March. Perhaps it was its demise that alerted numerous schools of tiger sharks.
Certainly during that two-year sham ‘in camera’ trial, for example, and certainly in prison, locked away from the world for a crime that I am positive the prosecution knew I didn’t do.

An amazing world

They had to have been aware, too, that I just about couldn’t have.

Let me tell you of two examples that happened on this very day.

They offer real proof that this is an amazing world and they ensured, too, that 3rd March was just about tattoo’d in my heart.

Coincidentally, both involve lovely and courageous women, although the events themselves could hardly be more different.

I married one who caused my almost-adult heart to leap most extraordinarily when she entered the church in traditional and gorgeous white.

One of the wonders

Nothing new there, of course, for many, many people will have experienced that themselves, too.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
March Rescue ... The liferaft on board our saviour, Nordlight.
But it is one of the wonders that makes it marvellous to be human, and for me it happened on this date and that makes the 3rd of March especially memorable.

I was a madly keen young reporter who saw the girl first at the local railway station when I went to collect equipment for the branch office teleprinter. She carried the parcel towards me and I simply fell.

It was ridiculous to invite her out there and then, even before signing for the parcel. But I did.

Amazingly, with hardly any hesitation, she agreed.

Leaving unseen

Later we married, on a 3rd March.

We were leaving the reception to go quietly and unseen off on honeymoon when suddenly many, many cars of friends appeared, waiting to chase the honeymoon vehicle, driven by my father.

My Dad was a quiet fellow who loved his American cars. And he loved most of all to drive them at speed.

The Bel Air, loaded with bride and groom, took off, wheels spinning. The crowd roared after us.

I don’t suppose the Chevrolet had attained such speeds before, but we sped through backstreets, and onto the open road, tyres screaming on the bends.

Suddenly the headlights picked up a car blocking the road side-on. It seemed we must plough into it. I could see the headlines of the honeymoon fatality.

Through a ditch or two

A smash seemed unavoidable, but my father swung that great machine to the right, off the road, through grass and scrub, a ditch or two, and soon back onto the road, and surprisingly safely.

None of the convoy could get around the obstruction. The bride and groom, hearts gradually calming, went off to the secret honeymoon hotel completely unembarrassed.

3rd March many years later: The scene is a liferaft in the South Atlantic, not far from the Roaring Forties, with another very brave young lady.

The yacht we were delivering to South Africa from Rio sunk after hitting a submerged container a few days earlier.

Very large sharks

We were alive, but the emergency radio beacon obviously wasn’t attracting rescuers.

I was wondering what else might go wrong. It was the 3rd March, and at first light I spotted the beginning of a large school of very large sharks heading straight for us.

The sharks kept smashing and butting every so often into the raft, and at night as well. By then, very little water remained and almost no food. Late one night, a few days later, I spotted a distant ship.

We signalled. We were rescued, very grateful for the captain's clever navigation, and doubly so to leave that horde of tormenting sharks unfed.

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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