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 mad with envy as I dwell on a well-aired family question, ‘What did you do in the war, Daddy?’

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Stowaway ... Sailor John went off to avoid the seeming lunacy of lockdown. But might there have been a stowaway also determined to avoid the stay-at-home dictate, a beauty he knew nothing of till far from land? How aggravating ... especially if he hadn't brought along a spare pillow. Thanks to Sereja Ris for sharing this work on Unsplash.
When this crazy Lockdown – our current war – ends, what will we say of our roles to curious young relations of the future?

If we’re planning to reply honestly, we’re going to have to admit to something like nothing.


We did nothing other than experience intense boredom all the way to the back teeth.

We might try to disguise enforced laziness with the poser, ‘But then, what could we have done?’ Perhaps this a reason for offering an envious hats off to the yachtie who found a near-perfect answer.

'I avoided it'

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Unlocked ... Poor John who missed the, er, excitement of the government's lockdown plan.
John Passmore, who uses the pen-name of Old Man Sailing, reveals this week, ‘I missed lockdown. Well, I didn’t actually miss it, I avoided it.

‘I went sailing by myself. I’m over 70 and the government wanted me to stay indoors for weeks on end and – as I now understand the term – shield myself.

‘So, for 42 days and 3,629 miles, I removed myself into an isolation so complete that the nearest human beings were on the International Space Station as they wandered overhead 15 times a day.’

Suicidal mainsail

John says he would still be out there but for a mainsail which destroyed itself near the Azores. He couldn’t get a replacement, because the mid-Atlantic islands like us were locked down.

He turned about and dawdled his way home, anchoring in Cornwall ... where he witnessed the sort of seemingly crazy behaviour that told of the madness we, back on land, see almost daily.

While refuelling, John watched two families arriving in dinghies. ‘They tied up on opposite sides of the pontoon.

'Then they sat down on opposite sides of the central railing and enjoyed their picnic, chatting happily across the mandatory two metres.

‘It was the oddest sight I think I’ve ever seen.’

John’s article is here …

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

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