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.

Isn't coincidence the strangest of human happenings? I say human, but it might be that dogs and household cats, goats and pedigree milking cows, even Moonmen, experience the strange phenomona, too.

Hidden away here at the Cape to complete my new story, the body is getting nothing like the exercise it's used to in London. But a great flood of story within needs to get out, to escape via a keyboard.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Cape Doctor .... The infamous weather and shipping from around the days of the RMS Athens which sank with all hands at Green Point, Cape Town. With many thanks to Jaco Boshoff for the image.

Being far from the phone and its petty distractions - and my own well-developed ability to find/invent excuses for easing concentration - makes getting the job done much more likely.

I link my own almost-shipwreck on the circumnavigation with the wrecking of the RMS Athens because of the opposite actions of Luck. I was saved by the most wonderful coincidence.

I take an hour-long daily walk on the coast, and yesterday I stopped beside an old engine block stuck in rocks just beyond the waterline.

On the rocks

It's all that remains of one of the early engine-driven ships, the RMS Athens, which foundered on the rocks at Green Point, almost exactly 152 years ago to the day.

That little piece of wreckage hints of Lady Luck's involvement in the death of ships.

I'm linking sailing supremo Tom Cunliffe's Great Seamanship choice for Yachting World with this awful tragedy right on the shoreline because my own shipwreck on the circumnavigation was saved by the most wonderful coincidence.

David Smith, the new master of the Athens, lost his ship through gross ill-luck. The ship broke her final anchor chain in Table Bay during one of the worst of the screaming Cape Doctor storms that frequent this coast.

I first encountered this evil wind for vessels on my circumnavigation as I approached the entrance for the Table Bay port. I had just arrived from a challenging bash across the Southern Ocean from Port Stanley. The South-Easterly shunted the now a'hull Spirit of Pentax back 200 miles towards South America.

Monstrous surf

Athen's captain decided to go out to sea rather than beach her safely nearby. The storm flung the ship onto the rocks at Green Point, and David Smith and crew died in the monstrous surf churned up by the storm.

The opposite happened for me when a tide carried my Captain Fantastic, onto a beach on remote Stewart Island, south of New Zealand. As the passage that Tom Cunliffe chose from Loner tells, within minutes a trawler came along and towed the schooner off, and to my enormous surprise didn't demand any sort of compensation. Well, talk about coincidence - to arrive before any damage occurred, and to help a vessel not exactly carrying a king's ransom for salvage claims.

I made a present of the little beer and wine on board, which skipper John Fewster's generous nature almost declined.

Jaco Boshoff's good account of the loss of the Athens is well worth the read, here.

His Facebook page is here.

Downloads:
Jaco Boshoff's article of the RMS Athens

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