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.

Here’s some invaluable wisdom that this former professional seafarer hadn't realised is a psychological fact: Time spent near water is the secret of happiness.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ah, the sea ... To be beside water, the oceans, rivers, and streams, is just what humans need, the experts report. Thanks to Unsplash and Kristina V for the image.
Until the revelation from The Guardian, I had mostly heard the opposite and especially when I was planning to sail around the world alone.

People warned me against it, doubting that anyone could survive the madness of going to sea alone ... and surrounded by all that water!

And what about all the time it would take?


I would never, I could never be the same again.

Perhaps in a way, there was some truth in the warnings, that I would never be the same again.

When I sailed back into an English port after going all the way around alone, I did feel like a different person. It was a positive feeling, as if somehow I had grown up and understood the world better.

I’d also seen, of course, how little of the world’s surface, our species actually occupies.

Mental wellbeing

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Nature trail ... Julia's walk along the Saturn trail follows the historic Basingstoke Canal, once very busy with barge traffic, but now calm and very peaceful.
In the article in The Guardian, writer Elle Hunt reports that proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing.

A specialist in environmental psychology told her, ‘Many of the processes are exactly the same as with green space – with some added benefits.’

Another researcher reported, ‘People who visit the coast, for example, at least twice weekly tend to experience better general and mental health.

Two hours weekly

‘Some of our research suggests around two hours a week is probably beneficial, across many sectors of society.’

Even sea views have been associated with better mental health, Elle Hunt reports.

I suspect that point about better mental health might be open to question: Why do I keep those blogs going, for example?

Being close to water is good for us, but to be able to take time off for a circumnavigation is beyond the hope of many people. How then can they enjoy the advantages of that beneficial nearness to oceans, to water?

One very keen walker Julia Dolton, a Woking friend, strides many miles along the Saturn Trail beside historic Basingstoke Canal and she manages it just about daily.

It rejuvenates me

Hairdresser Julia told me, ‘Walking by the canal really rejuvenates my mood. Nature and water. To see the changing seasons along the canal - with leaves turning a beautiful orange and yellow and the Spring with the new shoots.

‘And to enjoy the sights of baby ducks and geese. However, it’s mainly the effect of being beside the water that is so good.

‘I can feel quite anxious and down. Yet walking along the canal, my anxiety disappears and my mood becomes lighter.’

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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