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.

An upbringing in the Antipodes teaches you all about upheavals by Nature. The oceans do ittoo, of course, only destruction out there beyond the horizon has a limited life.

Disruption with capital D has certainly been the case with Kingston Council's modernising of the bathroom of my modest council flat. However, perhaps encouraged by lessons from Nature, a mix of pleasant surprise accompanied shock when the regular base suddenly looked nearly totally different.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Singlehanded service .... Master plumber Dumitru-Dorel Dinu claimed he could make a massive change in four hours and did.

I blogged about the surprise when the council offered to transform the sixties bathroom, and about Andrea Leco's good work, and the transformation by electrician Daniel and restoration specialist Emanuel Enache

The next to arrive on the scene of change was plumber Dumitru-Dorel Dinu who took in the stripped down walls and ceiling, and rough-boarded floor, which looked a little as it had experienced a terror attack of a not very successful nature. And yet Dumitru didn't gasp, or offer the slightest hint of shock.


Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Plastered .... Plasterer Circui Liviu transforms a battered bathroom of yesteryear into something very today. It's part of the proof that's there is a very good side to a kingdom capable of cruel trickery.

He'd arrive to add to the mayhem. He would disconnect the plumbing, and physically remove the loo, the bath, and the basin.

A big job in any language. 'Helpers still to arrive?' I wondered. 'I like to work on my own,' he said. 'It go much better.'

'Singlehanded. I know about that,' I said, pointing to a photo of Spirit of Pentax on a wall.

He didn't see the connection. He probably saw it as the half-coherent babbling of yet another demented council flat ancient.

'You see me do it'

I asked the vital question that potty tenants doubtless ask, too. How long for a solitary tradesman to complete such a huge task? Three days, maybe four?

'Four,' he said. 'Four hours.' I suspected a language problem. 'You see me do it.'

I wasn't able to see because Thursday was the anniversary of the family's migration to the Antipodes. Most years I visit the departure port, Tilbury, over beside the Thames, and in a way relive boarding the massive ship, Orientes, on a very dark night, almost a lifetime ago, me and brave parents and siblings.

The journey by train and tube over, I expected what we householders expect when experts rather over-enthuse about their capabilities. However, where that amazing fellow had stood estimating time just six hours earlier, lay a whole new bathroom suite, looking very smart, and all connected up and working, including the new toilet to the sewage outlet. I was amazed.

And this morning, the council sent in a plasterer, Circiu Liviu. Looking at his work after he left for the long weekend, I'll have to correct the job description of 'plasterer' to 'master plasterer'. I will show you why on the next blog.

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