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.

Two items in the news have me turning to the animal world for this blog.

The human news was astonishing: Someone in court for murdering babies! A surgeon drunk in the operating theatre killing a patient through the silliest mistake!

With news like that, it's better to offer instead a little tribute to a friendly do-gooder from our gardens.

How that prickly but gentle customer, the hedgehog, survives in our motorised world has to be a sort of miracle.

And yet pop out into the garden on almost any non-wintry night of the week, and there you’ll find the critter conscientiously and busily saving your plants from the ravages of slugs and snails.

What price to employ a human gardener to do that anti-slug job? I asked Gumtree and learned very quickly that there are many blokes only too happy – well, only too relatively happy – to get busy on your behalf.

But how much?

Gumtree had 180 ads sown there by gardeners seeking work. Their price is not quite so easily found.

Instead, you could hail a hedgehog and every fat slug and snail – every one of them, guv’ – will be removed at no cost to you, and perhaps as importantly without any need to strew the vegetable and flower bed with malicious and questionable poisons.

To get a gardener the normal way, as I learned a moment ago, you need access to the web, to visit a place where gardeners announce their wares, and try to fit your needs in with their diaries, and
→ explain the job,
→ provide the tools and
→ almost definitely cups of tea and cookies.

To employ a hedgehog? Merely leave a little gap under a boundary fence so the volunteer gardener can slip through and clean up the greedy critters pinching your crop.

What price per hour? Not a bean.

Homebase offers this excellent advice, 'Hedgehogs are among the most popular creatures to visit our gardens.

Children love them

'They are loved by children for their endearing charm and a friend to gardeners for the way they happily consume a variety of pests that would otherwise threaten plants and crops.

‘Sadly, their numbers are threatened by the widespread use of pesticides and expanding urbanisation, so these wonderful little creatures need all the help they can get if they are to survive.’

And they tell us exactly how to go about it.

It's well worth the read, I'd say, even if neighbourhood snails and slugs wouldn't agree.

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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