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.

When we hear the news of New Zealand's enviable handling of Covid, friends – standing at the approved distance, of course – ask what on earth caused me to leave and never return.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The wilds of the wilderness ... The countryside is often wild and untamed and quite beautiful, back then when Paul first arrived and certainly today. Photo by Matt Lamers on Unsplash, with many thanks.
My family sailed to NZ back in 1950. Friends feel it must have been like arriving in Paradise, especially one you don't have to die for, and one that very many are dying to move to.

It is a marvellous place, no doubt about that.

Pleasant people

Most kiwis are bright and pleasant people and the weather in many parts is just about sub-tropical.

Probably best of all for long and healthy life, it sits in the Southern Ocean where the air has to be the cleanest in the world.

I have citizenship and the passport, and even did their military training.

The question then demands some head-scratching. And the answer that surfaces surprises me, I admit.

The negatives happened in my very early years which is usually the stage of life when we tolerate and adjust best. Perhaps, though, that ability had been used up by the experience of bombing and air raids during the war.

Relief from what seemed extreme ugliness came – at last! - a few months later. We were to travel to our new home, far into the backblocks. Of course, as a little lad, I couldn't guess that there might be challenges to reaching our home in the bush, the wilds.
Migrating, we were quite a tribe: parents, maternal grandmother, an uncle, three sons, plus a baby daughter.

As families will, we stayed with settled relations – a wonderful aunt, her newish husband, and an adopted lad – in their pleasant Napier home.

Deepest and darkest

My father swapped aeronautics for hydro-electric engineering and quickly went off to the deepest and darkest inland location.

His new life must have been really demanding. For our relations, it meant at least one less to accommodate.

We waited for the Mangakino project to build housing. What grew faster were overcrowding tensions in our foster home in Napier. Such things are usually hidden from young children, but before long it took centre stage.

For the first time in my young life, I experienced a stinging blow from a man - a presumably frustrated new husband.

Our school in Hampshire had been an upmarket Catholic college, so we boys were enrolled in what seemed to be a local equivalent. It wasn't.

It was run by nuns who dispensed more discipline than knowledge via plentiful whacking of legs with rulers. Oddly, I still remember the shock of witnessing the attacks.

Punching his bride

Then, returning from school one day, I saw the man of the house punching brutally his newish bride, my very pleasant aunt. A man striking a woman. Had I arrived in Hell?

Relief from what seemed extreme ugliness came – at last! - a few months later. We were to travel to our new home, far into the backblocks.

Of course, as a little lad, I couldn't guess that there might be challenges to reaching our home in the bush, the wilds. We piled into an NZR bus and began a twisting, jarring, road-dust filled 18-hour journey.

This little lad from flat and civilised Hampshire learned very abruptly about astonishingly steep and unsealed roads … and travel sickness, all the way to our new home.

Very many classmates at my new school were also from migrant families – and the local kids gave us hell.

For almost every hour of school time, we were reminded mockingly of our status as Poms, and unsavoury variations on the theme, plus the fiercest hostility with which young people seem specially accomplished.

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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