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.

I’m going to invent a new handle for myself if there is any chance that new migrants – new settlers, as they used to be called – are heading for Ascension Island.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Quiet retreat ... What about a move out of the neighbourhood, perhaps a destination as far away as remote Ascension, just south of the Equator. - Thanks to BBC News for the cutting.
I’ll be Mohammed Paul, or Mustafa Paul, or perhaps Muzhchina P, something in that vein.

Ascension Island may not be Paradise exactly, but it is a gorgeous island.

It's remarkably close to the Equator and very pleasant visits there showed me it would suit me fine for a home.


I have sailed passed many times and, best of all, I've anchored there and enjoyed immensely the pleasure of going ashore.

Like its neighbour to the south, St Helena, it has a small but friendly and very hospitable population which knows how to give the word welcoming a capital W.

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Whether the welcoming I experienced as a singlehanded sailor anchoring close to the shore would be the same had I announced that I had arrived to stay, I’m not to know.

... No wild animals pose a threat, and birdlife is plentiful. There’s plenty of what we see in an English garden, plant and bird-wise, but also there’s some wonderful seabirds including boobies, petrels, noddies, and the island’s own frigatebird.
However, as with other British hideaways, like St Helena and the Falkland Islands, for instance, a visitor could feel that staying a week or a few months, or maybe longer, wouldn’t disturb the locals.

You’ll find a very good account of the Ascension on Wikipedia, with some good photos and many details.

The priorities

When contemplating a new home in another part of the world, what are the priorities?

Any chance of being slaughtered by the locals? Perhaps killed with kindness, is a risk. Otherwise and long and healthy life seems the promise.

The scenes wherever the visitor looks are wonderful, the mountain gorgeous, and the greenery – introduced back in the 1840s - is gorgeous.

Look upwards, higher than Green Mountain, and the vista of the night skies is fabulous.

No wild animals pose a threat, and birdlife is plentiful. There’s plenty of what we see in an English garden, plant and bird-wise, but also there’s some wonderful seabirds including boobies, petrels, noddies, and the island’s own frigatebird.

As the popular expressions goes, what’s not to like? You may not find a convenient Aldi, nor a choice of cinemas, nor a very handy Surbiton Library.

But for life, for clean air, and only a glance away huge stretches of ocean, Ascension takes some beating.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure writing. The blogs (as they call 'em) are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory,


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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook.

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