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.

Conscience has been nagging me about that deeply worrying discovery I referred to last week about the UK bombing of Dresden.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A Lancaster releases the main part of its load, a 4,000lb (1,800 kg) HC "cookie" and 108 30lb (14 kg) "J" incendiaries. (over Duisburg 1944) Thanks to Wikipedia for the image: By Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain,
Of course, it was wartime when it seems to be ok to bomb hell out of a civilian population.

In my childhood, bombs were falling all around in Southampton and claimed the family home.

Fortunately, an air raid shelter ensured the flames didn't claim the family, too.


However, as ghastly, as horrendous as the notion of bombing civilian homes goes, nothing could match Churchill's Brit approach to firebombing Dresden.

I wrote last week of my, well, almost disbelief and disgust that the generation of my father's father could have dreamed up and carried out the slaughter by fire of a minimum of 18,000 women and children.

Wikipedia puts the toll much higher - between 22,700 to 25,000 burnt alive! Wikipedia offers a grisly picture of a mother and baby in a pram immolated.

My conscience took me to Germany a day or two after learning about it last week. I flew to Berlin, planning to to visit Dresden with my wonderful concert pianist friend Konstanze as translator to somehow … well, show repentance on behalf of those utterly callous people long gone.

However, Germany had its own opinion of this belated attempt to display remorse. The price of going on anything but a slow train to Dresden was more than the far-from-cheap BA flight from Heathrow.

Mission uncompleted

I don't have that sort of money, so it was back to UK for me with the mission uncompleted.

But I will return, directly to Dresden this time. Airlines other than BA puts the cost for that flight between £134 and £152. I'm saving for that now.

Wikipedia's report begins, 'The bombing of Dresden was a British-American aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, during World War II.

'In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.

'The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed more than 1,600 acres of the city centre. An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed.'

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