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.

Wonderful news! My fig tree, just five years or so old, is in harvest, offering several dozen very tasty figs, full of goodness and not very many calories and all for free.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A fig leaf challenge ... Beautiful and large fig leaves were all our early ancestors needed to hide their mutal admiration ... only something happened, it seems. Brilliant painter Masaccio hid what we aren't supposed to see, only Wikipedia reports that when the painting was cleaned in the 1980s, his fresco of The Expulsion (1426–1427) lost the added fig leaves. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the shot
I've been growing several fruit trees in the communal garden in my corner of outer London, but the fig definitely is the best.

And it's not just that the fruit is especially delicious, but it's favourite because of its historical connection, and a magic quality.

This tree's family, like another favourite of mine, the weeping willow, has been around for a very long time.

Lusty forebears

It's something Noah among others has been especially grateful for.

And the good old fig seems to be the tree that gets most mentioned in history.

There it was disguising the satiated pleasure of our lusty forebears, Adam and Eve, who borrowed its gorgeous leaves to hide their, well, enthusiastic differences.

The garden where my magic fruit grows is communal and shared by twenty residences containing a few more than 20 trustworthy residents, most of whom congratulate me on such a magnificent tree.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The magic tree ... My splendid young fig tree which soon, just about the moment we're not looking, will cause its fruit to vanish into thin air and not be seen in this garden again.
A secret I don't share with them – but I will for my appreciated readers here – is that at about this time each year, the fruit display an additional quality than perhaps only magicians might comprehend.

Swallowed up

Over a number of nights, the ripe figs are swallowed into the night air. At first, I assumed large birds with a taste for figs must help themselves.

However, a watch at dusk and at dawn has never revealed a bird big enough to snatch even half of one.

Eventually, the realisation became obvious.

No wonder our forebears admired the fruit, which begins developing its figs three seasons before they become wonderfully edible.

Throughout the winter, come snow, frost, or downpours that forget to stop, the fruit is there on the tree.

Not only do the trees look good dressing themselves with the most beautiful foliage and fruit, but they have qualities that a superman would envy.

Up, up and away

When the fruit mutters its version of up, up and away, the ancient plant has the ability for its fruit to vanish, disappear. It must be part of its astonishing breeding cycle.

I presume the figs do it for a positive reason and like good fairies, fly to other gardens in the south and start new families, just like Adam and Eve's haven't stopped doing for, well, rather a long time.

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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