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.

How amazing to hear two pet subjects, two subjects that the Establishment must know it has got quite wrong, aired with more than a hint of criticism on that great mouthpiece of the Establishment, the Beeb itself.

The first happened early in the week when an authority of drugs was being interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme. I didn't hear her name clearly, but it sounded like Maureen Russet, representing what sounded like a charity called We Can Help.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Adding to an unjust fantasy ... an extraordinary display in Liverpool by the customs department. Clever people that they are, they know that the gang landed three tonnes of drugs. Strange because my yacht was supposedly one of the deliverers. As scientists showed, not a crystal of a drug had been on board.

Today, naturally, was trotting out its old bias about drugs and how lucky we are to have such active Tricky Dickie attitudes in the law, in what I used to think of as British justice - the envy of the world.

Alcohol kills

Maureen was being asked about drugs deaths, to reveal the numbers keeling over through a penchant for a snort, or puff, or armful.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Honest, guv' ... Would we distort anyfink? - From the department's display in Liverpool.

The bias was spotted by the good lady who pointed out that alcohol kills far more than drugs. Drinking alcohol is not against the law, of course, and it just might be that it's favoured by Today's handsomely rewarded interviewers.

The speed that the interviewer brought her straight back to illegal drugs was very noticeable. After the interview, I looked online to see if Maureen had been correct.

As usual it's easier to find statistics from the US than here. Psychology Today quoted the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's report that alcohol causes 88,000 (62,000 men and 26,000 women) deaths every year, and shortened the lifespan of those 88,000 by 30 years.

The psychologist, Adi Jaffe PhD, commented, 'That makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the US. All other drugs combined cause approximately 30,000 deaths annually.'

I emailed Radio 4's Today program to get the expert's name and organisation. A prompt reply regretted politely that no-one could be spared to answer.

Stunningly long prison sentences

The Museum of Curiosity, which last night filled the comedy half an hour on Radio 4 at 1830, heard that England's stunningly long prison sentences don't reform prisoners. In effect, it does the opposite. And prison overcrowding, which of course is a direct result of the extensive punishment, makes the sentences even less effective.

Having witnessed first hand the effect of enormous sentences on prisoners, don't I know. And - apologies for mentioning it often on these blog pages - I was sentenced to more years than the Lockerbie airline bomber, reportedly responsible for the deaths of 270 people, was serving. For what? Because I might have brought a yachtload of drugs to our fair shores. Only the prosecution knew that I couldn't possibly be guilty for I sailed no closer that 1100 miles.

From what I saw in the eight years and 14 days I finally served, I was one of the few prisoners to benefit at least in some way from imprisonment. I followed every chance for education and among other successes, graduated in Literature, learned much more about web development and took advantage of the chance to learn a few coding languages.

Drugs always seemed available in each of the prisons where I was housed. No-one seems to mention it in the media, but alcohol is simple to ferment within. No need to smuggle it in.

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