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.

At last, I know why Britain is such a magnet for Polish people - and not by conjecture or guesswork from afar. Your well-meaning narrator has travelled to the land of three outstanding humans where he sees why their fellow country folk make a beeline for Britain.

Yes, your seafarer is in Poland, and where better to be considering the puzzle given that this huge stretch of the Continent gave the world that extraordinary sailor and story-teller, Joseph Conrad, composer of renown, Chopin, and navigating game-changer, Copernicus.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Leaning towards Britain .... as if fixated by the Polish leaning for Britain, the builders on this construction give part of their work a definite lean our way.

Oh, I shouldn't forget that gifted film director, Roman Polanski, in spite of all the naming and shaming flung his way.

I'm in historic - tres historic - Wroclaw, discovering why people from a country that gave the world such talent would want to leave.

The answer could come in the appalling weak and seldom present internet, though, that might be the reserve of the self-catering accommodation where I'm camped. The most likely cause of the almost-mass exodus for our kingdom more likely comes in one word - Poland.

Thoroughly modern

What a strange, mixed-up part of the world: thoroughly modern as the western world, almost. Women pour themselves into the fashionable skin tight trousers, and yet very few allow their upper charms to test street temperatures.

In their praise, it should be said that they don't litter their talk with the word 'like', over and over, though they seem to follow the rest of the world with an obsession for social media.

They certainly work their mobile phones to death, or at least debt.

Whatever they have to say from what happened at work, or what they saw on the street, or what one inlaw said to another, they text or shout impatiently into their mobiles as they walk to their transport home.

But they NEVER talk to others, to strangers, out in the public places. See them in coffee places, on the bus, in the amazing trams here, in the supermarkets, and they won't even spare one another a smile.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Happening Poland .... The sweet image of nesting birds feeding from a cleverly improvised wild bird feeder is interrupted by the arrival of the fire brigade to free a pedestrian trapped under a car.

Even out there in the oceans, the dolphins communicate and so do the whales and their fashon is skin-tight, too. Sharks that surrounded my liferaft for a scary eight days certainly passed messages to one another, though in this case, mostly about the menu.

Ignore thy neighbour

However, the inhabitants of wonderful old Wroclaw, and presumably the rest peopling this vast, ancient land, don't, won't, and seemingly have no desire to.

In Britain, ask an assistant in Lidl's for a product, and you'll be taken to its home on a shelf. Smiles, and a 'no prob' may well be added to the service.

It's different in Poland. I tried twice to find where an item might be hidden in Lidl's in Wroclaw. Ask and you get a look that implies that if you aren't the paymaster, go and look yourself.

I misunderstood and repeated the question to the lady assistant. The raising of her hackles was quite a sight, and not just because its speed could have made a sloth of an aggravated chameleon. Her unspoken command that I should look for myself worked. Off I went to look.

It's this attitude which is everywhere in ancient, arty Wroclaw. It's difficult to think of a better reason for preferring UK.

Brits are much less buttoned-up in public - we speak to one another. Shop assistants are thoughtful, act in a caring way. Cashiers friendly, we say thank you when a 'next customer' division is added to the counter at a till queue, and Brit girls happy to show shapely loins, don't hide away other charms.

Haughty attitudes

I'm puzzled by the haughty attitudes in the Polish Spring sun. It had me comparing attitudes in other countries and then in one distant part of the world which fascinated me, too. It is probably about as Americanised as Poland. I tell all - or lots - about the people of the extraordinary sun-drenched island of Margarita in Sailing to Purgatory.

Admittedly, the self-employed lovelies of that Caribbean island have a pecuniary reason for their easy way with stangers. I was watching them in action at a famous island haunt, while dissecting the revealing lines about our species in All the world's a stage, as you do, and suddenly found myself enjoying a Eureka moment. I'd just guessed why Shakespeare ...

... put exits before their entrances in that important opening thought. He meant age! Of course! Age affecting confidence would encourage players to exit more than enter. It took some self-discipline not to stand up and share the realisation out loudly. ...

and the brilliant answer vanished instantly, just as if I had woken from a dream. I was trying to get it back, almost had it salvaged, when a tall girl right beside us shouted to a companion, 'Los antiguos deben actuar su edad.' The elders should act their age.

She was looking angrily towards the bright end of the room. I followed the gaze. A number of silvery mains were charming workers with pricy drinks, boxes of chocolates, sophisticated snacks, and whole packs of international cigarettes. I doubted somehow that the management would agree.

Before our enthusiastic elders in want of attention come rushing for Wroclaw - it's very much closer than magic Margarita - let me emphasise that there are similarities, but from my week in Poland, I saw no special attention lavished on society's seniors, who look much more hard done by in Poland than the pampering we receive in Brit-land. Oh, perhaps that's another reason for the Polish stampede.

About Wroclaw's historic square

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