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 cover of Sailing to Purgatory by Paul Rodgers promises the reader an ocean adventure, romance and a shocking ending. It does all of these things most certainly but, be cautioned. This is not a straightforward quick beach-read.

US book reviewer Paddy Stodart-V considers Sailing to Purgatory
'His understanding of the sea, the skies, navigation, the dangers, the privilege of being alone at sea pours onto the page in beautiful prose.'
This book tacks (sorry!) in directions beyond anything you might imagine. It is rich and layered.

The author jumps at the unexpected opportunity of yacht ownership and the possibility of making a solo crossing of the Atlantic just at the point where he is also forced to confront the inevitable concerns and constrictions of his advancing years. The voyage is to be his farewell to his seafaring days.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Remarkable wealth of knowledge and skills ... 'Gleaned from years of dedication to the art of solo sailing.' - Paddy Stodart-V

And he brings the reader along on this final journey from Venezuela to Cape Town at a pace and in such astonishing detail that the reader truly feels he shares the experience.

Years of dedication

We come to appreciate his very remarkable wealth of knowledge and skills gleaned from years of dedication to the art of solo sailing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Sailing to Purgatory's cover ... 'promises the reader an ocean adventure, romance and a shocking ending.'

His understanding of the sea, the tides, the skies, navigational issues, the dangers, the courage required, the beauty and sheer unique privilege of being alone at sea pours onto the page in precise, evocative and very beautiful prose.

The former journalist has honed his skills of observation throughout his years of sea travel.

The romance, as unorthodox and unexpected as it was, was gently and respectfully handled. The ending – gut wrenchingly sad.

I'd like to offer a thought about Australian Bob who appears in the story. I loved him! I laughed out loud whenever he appeared on the page.

Personal reflections

If I were to take issue with any part of this book it might be Paul’s occasional tendency to wander away from his own personal reflections (which are perfectly wise in themselves) by inserting a quote from a literary great (Shakespeare or Milton) or to refer to works of Schubert or Britten or Debussy when adding colour to a scene.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Unorthodox and unexpected romance.

Paul is probably the most educated, cultured man ever to take to the sea - a Renaissance Man of the highest order. But I am fairly sure I may not be the only reader who may need to spend time chasing down the references before continuing my reading. ?

Paul’s life clearly has been one of remarkable dedication to his two great passions of sailing and writing and they come together here between these pages making a rich and satisfying reading.

It is going to be incredibly difficult to await the outcome of the shocking events that are chronicled on the concluding pages of this book. Roll on Book Two!
- Paddy Stodart-V (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 27.ix.2017

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