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.

It’s very intersting but disturbing to compare the reaction to our plague of 2020 and that of our forebears in the black plague of the 1600s.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Keep your distant ... Gyms are back in business this week - hooray! - but keeping your distance is the vital rule.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
The plague snatches lives all around us, yet shopping at Aldi this afternoon, life seemed very much as usual.

Well, except for the masks shoppers peered over, and notices warning us to keep well apart.


Cashiers and the hoot were screened safely away.

The majority of shoppers were buying huge amounts of food, but there were no cries of alarm, no faintings, no woman throwing themselves into my arms and begging for help, no tears.

However, in the plague of the sixteen hundreds, the scenes were tensely different, and really tragic.

There People might be heard, even into the streets as we passed along, calling upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ, and saying, ‘I have been a thief,’ ‘I have been an adulterer’, ‘I have been a murderer’...
I borrowed some observations by Daniel Defoe here the other day, and here are a few more disturbing scenes around him in London.

Little different from us

In all likelihood, the humans in this report were little different from us, and in all probability not any less intelligent, but perhaps not so well schooled.

Daniel Defoe reports in A Journal of the Plague Year ...

‘Many consciences were awakened; many hard hearts melted into tears; many a penitent confession was made of crimes long concealed.

‘It would wound the soul of any Christian to have heard the dying groans of many a despairing creature ...

'... and none durst come near to comfort them.

‘Many a robbery, many a murder, was then confessed aloud, and nobody surviving to record the accounts of it.

'People might be heard, even into the streets as we passed along, calling upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ, and saying, ‘I have been a thief,’ ‘I have been an adulterer’, ‘I have been a murderer’, and the like, and none durst stop to make the least inquiry into such things or to administer comfort to the poor creatures that in the anguish both of soul and body thus cried out.


‘The very buriers of the dead, who were the hardenedest creatures in town, were sometimes beaten back and so terrified that they durst not go into houses where the whole families were swept away together, and where the circumstances were more particularly horrible, as some were ...

' ... As to the affair of health, it is proper to mention it here that, having seen the foolish humour of the people in running after quacks and mountebanks, wizards and fortune-tellers, which they did, even to madness, the Lord Mayor, a very sober and religious gentleman, appointed physicians and surgeons for relief of the poor…'

Daniel Defoe reports that the College of Physicians published directions for cheap remedies for the poor, 'in all the circumstances of the distemper.'

'This, indeed, was one of the most charitable and judicious things that could be done at that time, for this drove the people from haunting the doors of every disperser of bills, and from taking down blindly and without consideration poison for physic and death instead of life.'

- Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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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