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.

As a toddler and small boy I loved my grandfather. He was the greatest: a kind and gentle and encouraging senior.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Women and children first ... A picture that certainly seems to tell the story. Photo: Thanks to Wikipedia. 'Dresden, 1945, view from the town hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city (the allegory of goodness in the foreground). The skeletal remains of the city of Dresden,Germany; destroyed by allied bombs.'
What a wonderful gentle and humane generation was his, I thought.

Grandpa had a garage in Baddesley, not far from Southampton, and to little me, he could do no wrong.

A little boy

If a little boy had been capable of the notion, I'd had seen all of his generation that way.

His son, my father, was perfectly able to offer what in those days was termed a 'hiding'.

It was painful and yet fashionable.

That revealed to little me what his generation must be like. Very different from our gentle grandparents.

At the end of the war, my mother took me to admire the Victory celebrations. We had beaten the horrid enemy. Hooray! Three cheers!

However, quite a few years later I was to learn of Gramps' generation and the conscience and humanity of those seniors.

Only seven months before the war's end, his generation destroyed the beautiful city of Dresden.

Night after night

They – we – firebombed the city night after night. The madness takes some grasping.

If 'our side' wanted to finish the war, why not aim all attacks on the leader, Hitler. Somehow, as if there might be some international agreement, leaders seldom get zapped.

Wikipedia reports, 'Widely quoted Nazi propaganda reports claimed 200,000 deaths, but the German Dresden Historians' Commission … concluded that casualties numbered between 18,000 and 25,000.

'The allies described the operation as the legitimate bombing of a military and industrial target.

'Several researchers have argued that the February attacks were disproportionate. Mostly women and children died.'

I like the use of the term disproportionate. Wikipedia might set the toll at the lower level, but many historians put the figure as far, far higher.

High explosives

Wikipedia reports, 'On the night of 13–14 February 1945, 773 RAF Lancaster bombers dropped 1,181.6 tons of incendiary bombs and 1,477.7 tons of high explosive bombs on the city.

'The inner city of Dresden was largely destroyed.

'The high explosive bombs damaged buildings and exposed their wooden structures, while the incendiaries ignited them, denying their use by retreating German troops and refugees.'

The point, of course, was that not only was the city destroyed, the attackers ensured that there could be no escape for the civilian population. And as Wikipedia notes, 'Mostly woman and children.'

Well, all this time later, what can we do about it? I'm on my way there this week to visit the city and to at least think in a distinctly apologetic way.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory

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