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.

The part of the voyage portayed in the free chapter from Sailing to Purgatory tells of a rare time when the sea seemed to be in the best of moods, kind, friendly and helpful.

After a thunderstorm in Biscay, I found that the mainsail was seriously damaged. That's the sail that is the sort of engine for a yacht, the equipment that provides the power, and much of the ability to sail close to the wind.

I changed course, turned about, and yacht sailed down towards the Azores ...

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The fun in Funchal ... where something quite extraordinary was about to spark. - Many thanks to Madeira Tourist for the gorgeous shot of Funchal Promenade and Avenida do Mar.

The powerful blow, warm and dry, sweeps us along the Sao Miguel coast. We’re an arm’s length from remote Azorean life, with the deep deep beneath the keel. Fields brilliant with red and pinkish blooms rush by, then yellowy crops glinting golden in the sun, now a khaki-charcoal blur of cottages clustered together as if in conversation ...

Perfumed wind

Freshly mown clover perfumes the wind, a space of turf and trees, then another village, and now a communal clothes line of immense size, sheets and shirts and shorts surprisingly uniformly coloured, blue towels, beige bras with considerable cups, and yellow socks, scores of them pegged together in CW phrases, dah dit dit, dah dit dit, dah dit dit, and repeated on and on. I’m wondering why the letter ‘D’? Pride over the cup size perhaps.

The wind stays friendly, so I changed the destination towards Madeira, where something extraordinary would happen, something that it seemed would change my life forever.

... a night of fabulous stars, each reflected on the curls of waves in huge and shimmering silver. Dawn raises a massive sun, an instant reminder of Hayden’s first sunrise in The Creation. It is gigantic, breath-taking. It shimmers with geysers of fire, quite sufficient on its own to terrify weather-conscious shepherds. It followed a sailing night that offered the chance to dream in peace, yet possessed too many attractions, seemed far too attractive to squander in sleep.

A smudge of green appears far off, then a shape like a welcome salute which gradually grows more political – Viva Funchal - and becomes Madeira climbing slowly from the sea, right where the sextant predicted.

The free taster for Sailing to Purgatory is here.

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