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 reading an extraordinary book by an equally extraordinary writer who, extraordinarily, knew the previous plague extraordinarily well.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Discouraging review ... The astonishing writer Daniel Defoe suffers a form of critique that thankfully isn't practised these days.
llustration by duncan1890.
The name Daniel Defoe is no stranger to us all, of course, but the depths of his extraordinary talents might be.

For a start, what an astonishing writer.

Book list

I have a literature degree but I confess that Mr Defoe was never on my book list and wouldn’t be even now but for a moment of curiosity while reading Robinson Crusoe.

Had you asked me last week about the adventure story, I fear I probably would have been fairly dismissive.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Crusoe's home ... A pictorial map of Crusoe's island, the 'Island of Despair', showing incidents from the book. photoscan by J. Kenneth Van Dover; original artist unknown - http://www.newberry.org/smith/slidesets/images/10-1.jpg 'Pictorial map of Robinson Crusoe's island, published in Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe'
Now I realise the expression should read unfairly dismissive.

I blame my father, totally unfairly, too, of course.

Hardly beyond toddlerhood, I saw via my Dad’s 9.5 mm projector the very early silent film Robinson Crusoe more than once.

This was long before TV, of course, and it’s fair to say that my father mesmerised his growing family with the flickering movies which back then felt close to experiencing miracles.

Shark harassed

I was recalling a voyage of mine that ended in the loss of a yacht and many days in a shark-harassed liferaft, and for some reason that turned my mind to Robinson Crusoe and the introduction to films, movies, in early childhood.

And that prompted me to see whether a very imaginative plot was backed up by good writing, and sparked some great discoveries I'd prevously overlooked.

I asked Project Gutenberg for a copy of Robinson Crusoe, and as usual received it in a couple of clicks. And I looked at the opening paragraph with skimming very much in mind.

What a surprise. Not only is it a clever story, brilliantly plotted, but it reads really well for us now, what, not so far from four hundred years later.

The current plague year

It snowballed me into another tale of his, A Journey of the Plague Year, and it reads excellently and makes a perfect subject for we locked down readers of the current plague year.

What a gifted writer! Looking online for some notes about the author’s life, I soon discovered that like his stories, he was far from ordinary.

‘The author of Robinson Crusoe, who dealt with ups and downs as an entrepreneur, also penned one of history’s most useful business manuals,’ Daniel Akst revealed in Strategy + Business

Mr Defoe's brilliant writing is available gratis online and, as you might well gather, is thoroughly recommended.

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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