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.

To Brighton Marina today to walk beside those lush yachts and for the first time since Spirit of Pentax – my eccentric Captain Fantastic – sailed off to circumnavigate the world back in … well back almost 37 years ago! Yes, in the summer of 1980.

I hoped to meet that talented artist Bob Abrahams who gave that homemade yacht such an impressive look. Unfortunately, though, Bob couldn’t get there.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Yachts ahoy! ... Boats aplenty but not much boggling.

However, much of the rest of the world could, and the marina seemed filled with visitors. Not, I hasten to add, around the acres of yachts moored there. In the restaurants.

And it is in this eating and drinking area that the marina looks most different. I say different. I should say completely unrecognisable.

Sadly the train taking me there was involved in a fatality – we passengers weren’t told in what way – and we arrived very late. A brisk walk from the station, a little under an hour, brought me onto the jetties I thought I knew so well. Of course, nearly 40 years later, everything is bound to be different, although, quite remarkably, some cruising yachts from that era are still there.

Admittedly the visit was brief, but two features of the changed times stood out. The yachting gear – blazers, cravats, yacht club badges – of yesteryear were gone. I didn’t see any.

However, what an abundance of leggings. Back in the dark ages of the 1980s, women associated with sailing wore nothing like that.

Six billion leggings

The world possesses something in the region of three and a half billion women. Wherever I’ve travelled in recent years, nothing seems to have spread as quickly as leggings. If Brighton Marina is typical, it seems almost all the women of the world wear them.

They can’t have just one pair for they have to be washed, at least from time to time. And that means that at least six billion leggings have been made and sold around our globe.

On the walk to the marina, I had been trying to estimate the number of sea miles I sailed on that global trip from Brighton. Somehow the mileage seemed suddenly comparatively almost paltry.

I planned to touch a yacht at the marina before I left for the station. They are all locked away. People can't get up close to a sailing boat. Well, no wonder the eateries were doing well.

Oh, another change. Working my way through the crowds of those keen marina visitors, I didn't hear one reference to yachts, or any part of yachts. I gathered that the food and wine consumed was good, though.

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