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.

We continue to be so hoodwinked over 'drugs laws' by our lords and masters - those we vote for in each election - that a wry smile formed when I read the following piece in the online international sailing news magazine, Scuttlebutt, yesterday.

'Curmudgeon' offered this in his Scuttlebutt column yesterday:

Officer: 'Any drugs, alcohol?'
Driver: 'No thanks, I've got everything.'

The mockery was doubly ironic because yachtsmen must be among the most harassed of 'the usual suspects' thanks to the paternalistic and nonsensical laws.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Riding the gift horse ... the war that Law an' Order couldn't possibly win rakes in more than $435 billion a year. - Photograph by Mike Wilson, and used with thanks from Unsplash.

As readers of this blog will know, I was sentenced to a jail term longer than the Lockerbie airline bomber's, the fellow said to have been responsible for the deaths of 270 people. The evidence right in front of the jury showed that I couldn't be guilty.

... the global drugs trade is worth around $435 billion a year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion ... the global drugs trade is 'as strong as ever' as the fight fails.

An interest in the nonsensical law began in my earliest days in journalism, in the times that Tricky Dickie was spreading his invention.

The farce of the farcical news

A new editorial policy was adopted by the newspaper, and unquestioning me wrote story after story about the abuse of drugs, particularly by lazy students.

The farce of the farcical news filling newspaper columns around the western world must be that at least most of we journalists knew nothing more of the dangerous subject than the assignment hand-outs revealed.

Before long, though, I wondered why drugs could have such an appeal. I'd never seen a 'drug', never heard of it till that first assignment, never felt a desire to do whatever one did with it.

As Nixon's notion caught on with politicians, I felt urged to look into the 'threat to civilisation'.

I found that two less-gullible nations ignored the nonsense - Nepal and Holland. I visited both. In Kathmandu, filled with young Americans, I wandered into government shops - sort of off-licences - where customers bought drugs. It was not unlike a pharmacy in some ways, with an expert to point out qualities and cheaper ranges.

Hash cookies with coffee

Signs warned against buying from itinerants in the street for they were not able to guarantee the quality of their goods. The drugs shop could and did.

In cafes, one could have hash cookies with coffee or tea. The prices were low, the standard of the cafes high. I didn't see any trouble of the sort that affects places where it's prohibited. My experience in Holland was little different.

Treat adult humans as grown-ups, allow them to use their own intelligence, and they act as an adults.

Like stern parents

What the laws do encourage is the accumulation for vast profits by gangs and those behind the curtains. I often felt, seeing how the trade seemed to be in New York, and here in the UK, that there must be a further reason for the ban. Could it be similar to Prohibition that if you ban something humans desire, they will want it even more, and will pay through the nose, as it were, for it.

And I wondered about the lawmakers acting like stern parents, dictating what their voters could do. Could at least some be sharing in the vast rewards?

Crime fell when Prohibition ended. Drunken adults didn't suddenly tear their cities apart.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Europol report that the annual global drugs trade is worth around $435 billion a year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion. This four-year-old information comes from the cnbc.com news website which reports that the global drugs trade is 'as strong as ever' as the fight fails.

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