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.

‘But what if you fell off the yacht so far from home?’ people often ask when talking of my passion for long-distance singlehanded sailing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Risky city life ... Danger is all around in our busy city lives, and yet it's a real shock when it happens right in front of you. The sudden ending of it is ever-present on land, as Paul saw yesterday.
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash
‘What if a ship came along and bumped into you?’ is another regular poser.

Why going to sea seems riskier than normal daily life is because we are so used to our daily routines.

Yet the potential for serious injury and death surrounds us much more, it seems to me, on land.

Run down

Step off the curb and you could be run down. Walking on a busy pavement, one of a dozen buses in the vicinity could lose control and crush the life from many. Of course, ships are a risk out there.

Once clear of the coast, though, and you might see one ship compared to the ten thousand lorries and buses and more that could come along in the equivalent time onshore.

She fell virtually at my feet and her head struck the curb just inches from me. The unnerving sound of the skull striking the concrete is a horror I am unlikely to forget.
And any one of them could so easily lose control and crush a considerable number of pedestrians.

I had a ghastly reminder yesterday of how uncertain our landlubber lives can be. I was dashing to catch a train at Surbiton Station.

On the road beside me, a mature woman stepped from a car ... and tripped.

She fell virtually at my feet and her head struck the curb just inches away. The unnerving sound of the skull striking the concrete is a horror I am unlikely to forget.

A great flood of blood spilt across the curb. A first aider nearby rushed over and phoned the ambulance service immediately.

To be taken shopping in a smart car, to open the passenger door expecting to treat yourself at any moment, and yet to meet death instead, seemed to tell its own story about our precarious city-dwelling lives.

What seemed so perhaps grossly unfair is that the woman must have been aware of no more than tripping over. The blow and the severe haemorrhaging and her life ending so quickly would have been hidden from her.

No time for a farewell

No time for a quick goodbye and a final kiss.

Quick, yes, but it seemed such a, well, unannounced, unexpected demise, that this shocked witness mused for a moment about the greater safety of voyaging.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure writing. The blogs (as they call 'em) are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory,

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook.

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