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.

Remember the song, Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think? It came back in a most poignant way when I flew into Cape Town last week. The tune, by Carl Sigman and lyrics by Herb Magidson, normally returns me to childhood on the family's long sea migration to the antipodes.

I had arrived in the beautiful Cape to work on and complete the survival story that I hope will follow Sailing to Purgatory.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A friend to all .... Zoe, who is suddenly lost to all. Thanks to Four Winds Academy for the image

No socialising exists in the diary, but for a solitary plan to visit long-time friends in nearby Hout Bay - once I had recovered from a really unpleasant dose of jetlag from the very long leg down from Constantinople.

When son Tristan pursued a passion for football at school, Zoe studied the sport and became a qualified referee.

My very first day in Africa began with a text from Mark. Zoe had died during the night. I couldn't have been more shocked.

I saw Mark and Zoe only a few months earlier. They both looked extraordinarily well, a healthy, happy couple, no strangers to daily walks.

A very bright lady

And Zoe was a very bright lady, a former radiologist, lately a well-qualified comparative psychologist, with a popular following of pet-owners and it's said, admired by the four-legged patients themselves. When son Tristan pursued a passion for football at school, Zoe studied the sport and became a qualified referee.

Yet suddenly the lady is no more. The shock of a sudden departure is made so much worse by the crazy state of death as well. You can't phone a soul, send a text, email, get onto high-frequency radio.

Once anyone goes, they are gone. All this is obvious, of course, and all humans know it well. As Shakespeare puts it Hamlet ...

      The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
      No traveller returns, puzzles the will ...

The story I am working on is about a really disturbing eight days in a liferaft after the luxury yacht I was delivering from Rio struck a submerged container and sank. A liferaft, a girl and me, vicious Southern Ocean weather, and a growing number of determined tiger sharks.

If Death had an easy target, there it was in very on-the-edge circumstances. Why were we allowed to survive? And yet it stole the life of a healthy, lovely, very committed woman who really did a lot of good for her neighbourhood, for our species.

Perhaps the Bard making light of it helps us to accept the final curtain a little more easily ...

      He that cuts off twenty years of life
      Cuts off so many years of fearing death.

The song, by the way, surfaced in 1949, recorded by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. It became very popular almost instantly.

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