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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