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.

Wondering where that place called heaven might be? When it first dominated human thinking, scribes would raise an arm and point. 'Up there,' they'd chant.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Pathway to Heaven ... To see most of Paradise, though, a rather stiff climb is necessary. The view's worth it. Photo from the New York Times article with many thanks.
Sad landlubber beings, they obviously knew next to nothing about where to find the Up There.

I mean, what did they expect to find in the night sky, apart from a planet or two and a handful of stars?


Knowledgeable us, we know about the real Up There.

We even have witnesses who have walked on the moon and looked about there, and ventured far out, eyes wide, into the night sky.

Make no mistake. It’s not up there. It’s here, and I’ve been there. Almost. I certainly saw it. I didn’t quite make it, but not for want of trying.

Look on the bright side

With its opposite, the Hell that has plagued my senior years, I’d let the wonderful memory of that paradisical Paradise slip, though it is a surprise to me now that the voyaging memory didn’t dominate during those ghastly unjust years in UK prisons.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Iron walls do not a Paradise make ... Finding Heaven is one challenge. Landing among the angels is quite another.

Look on the bright side, we learned as kids, and yet I wasn’t recalling the view of Paradise as the unconscionable State stole my property, my savings, my investments, my beautiful ship’s sextant, and my wonderful stripped out 38-ft yacht, eM.

As the utter absence of justice was directed my way by a corrupt prosecution, my view of Paradise from not so long ago really ought to have dominated my thinking.

Humans! We’re so much better at dwelling on the negatives.

Face to face with Paradise

However, when I clicked open a magazine from the other side of the world this morning, I came face to face with Paradise whose coast I virtually nudged in my eagerness to get among the angels and all.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Far from anywhere ... Hiding between South America and South Africa, locating Paradise is quite a navigational challenge. However, it's worth it, even if you can't land.
The New York Times offered a stunning photograph of Tristan da Cunha – Paradise – and my heart leapt.

I was sailing from Cape Horn towards South Africa and, thanks to that sadly missed sextant, found tiny Tristan da Cunha.

It was as I came close that I recognised the Paradise I’d heard so much about since, well, since I began to understand words.

It certainly is as beautiful as the popular view of Heaven goes, and yet – unlike religion’s ultimate location – this real version lacks the zillions and zillions wandering about in white, with bold wings to match, for ever and ever.

Beautiful women

Tristan has just 250 inhabitants, and 38 square miles for them to enjoy, albeit that much of it is just about straight up and down.

It has a supermarket (in a tin shed), and probably the world’s most beautiful women, all dressed, when occasionally they are dressed, significantly in white.

What more could a singlehanded sailor desire? Well, most of all, just then, to get onto the island. However, talk about buttresses to foil an approaching army, it was protected with very steep cliffs ... and it possessed no port. Naturally, that was to bar heathens and Satan.

However, I was more of a Sinbad, and I sailed this way and about and onto the other tack, but getting onto the island remained impossible in the prevailing conditions.

I confess to pondering on the notion of scuttling my brave vessel, hoping that rescue might work. However, the yacht represented Paradise in another form - well, almost - so that notion had to be scuppered.

I gave up

Just as never happens in biblical tales, I gave up and sailed away, and watched very sadly the island sinking slowly into the South Atlantic.

If you'd care to know more about the real Paradise, here's the island’s own website, and here is Wikipedia’s own form of worship.

Google Maps has some wonderful and thoroughly recommended shots of Paradise, too.

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.

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