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.

‘What’s your date of birth’ seems to have become the way ultra-modern society - Brit society, as least – checks identity these days.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Forget birthdays ... Who needs passports or even remembering details about your ID? Get a tattoo. When officials ask for personal details, just slip an arm under their noses. Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash and many thanks to Dave and model and Unsplash.
Never mind the extraordinary ways we have for proving we are who we say we are, from driving licences to credit cards to mobile phones to iPads to good old passports.

Turn up at a hospital, ask your GP’s office to do something, ask anywhere official for help, and that’s the chant we hear.

What’s your date of birth?


I stood for what seemed ages in a long, long NHS queue at a prominent hospital.

A grumpy nurse demanded - no please or thank you - the birthdates of person after person.

After a long, long wait hearing a succession of birthdates, scores and scores of them, it was my turn for the brief interrogation. I had a question or two for her.

Why book everyone at the same time? Why not staggered times?

Her withering look somehow encouraged a prompt from my long-deceased grandmother, a stickler for good manners. ‘Only a common person would ask a question like that. One should not encourage such misbehaviour.‘

‘What about my email address?’ I suggested. ‘Or postal code, the appointment number in the NHS invitation?

Her expression suggested it was fortunate that a scalpel wasn’t within reach.


‘Don’t deal with peasants,’ the voice from the past advised, and in spite of the very long wait at the quite distant hospital, I followed the advice from childhood, and walked away.

Out in the fresh air with pride satisfied, I realised that it might have been better to recall a wise pointer from a few year’s later in Vietnam War training. ‘First think through any individual manoeuvre you’re planning.’

Did I want to score a point for a grandmother’s memory or might I have preferred the medical check that I’d set out for about three hours earlier …

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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