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Journalist Brenda Vowden has written the first critique of Sailing to Purgatory to appear in Australasia, and it is full of amazing praise.

Brenda, from Napier, who works for a Hawkes Bay newspaper, wrote ' You don't have to be a keen sailor to be utterly captivated from the first chapter of Paul Rodgers’ latest book, Sailing to Purgatory.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Perilous ocean ... Artist Bob Abraham's impression of Paul's battle through the Southern Ocean.
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Journalist Brenda Vowden

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 is all set to skipper a Farr 38 on a Caribbean voyage when the owner decides on other plans and sells the yacht to Paul. And the adventure begins.

'Nothing is straight forward when sailing singlehandedly across vast oceans, but Paul is no stranger to helming on long passages alone.

Cape Horner

'In fact, he 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.

'Dangerous goes no way towards describing the perilous conditions endured on this final 8,000 mile voyage from the Caribbean, across the North Atlantic, and down into the Southern Ocean, and then up to St Helena Island. - Brenda Vowden

'So battling currents, storms and seas higher than a three-storey house is just about par for the course. I suspect that if Paul ever came across warning signs of dangers ahead, he would glance the other way.

'Dangerous goes no way towards describing the perilous conditions endured on this final 8,000 mile voyage from the Caribbean, across the North Atlantic, and down into the Southern Ocean, and then up to St Helena Island.

'Sailing to Purgatory has all the roller coaster elements of a heart stopping adventure — drama on the high seas, observing life on remote islands, tropical wildlife, undersea volcanoes, a love interest, and waves high enough to scare the pants off most of us.

Incredible human effort

'However, none of that prepared Paul for what was to happen when he finally reached terra firma. Within days of arriving at his destination and before he had the chance to let go of his sea legs, authorities ambushed him and one of the most gruelling chapters of his life had begun. Paul was accused and later convicted of drug smuggling, although he sailed no closer to UK than 1,100 miles. It’s a crime he vehemently denied during the eight years he endured behind bars. But that’s another story.

'Let me add that I have the deepest admiration and respect for Paul Rodgers, both for the incredible human effort it takes to sail across an ocean alone (anywhere) but also to endure behind prison bars.'

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