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.

Who knows what Bore-is and his political pals have in mind for us for Christmas, whether we'll be locked away again or allowed to actually meet with friends and family.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Train strain ... Sometimes rail travel doesn't work out quite the way we hope. Photo by Joey Herrera on Unsplash
Our glorious leaders suggest presently that, of course, we'll be allowed to be with others over Yuletide ...

It's anybody's guess, so I thought better to visit friends early than probably never.


Then I pondered over whether to trust the train to visit Portsmouth.

Obviously, as the decision shows, I'd not kept up with any shenanigans of the now privatised and seemingly unconscionable British Rail, er South Western Railway.

Of course, I do know trains've not been a public, er, asset for a long time. However, I hadn't expected that conscience might have been let go, too.

Rail fares keep ascending, of course, but a few months ago, the price with a senior discount card was around £14 return.

Eventually, at long last, we arrived in Woking, for a change of trains, and perhaps a salute to the town because it's where H G Wells wrote War of the Worlds. The station was freezing. Any part we might use to escape the weather was locked up...
Fate might have been warning me, for the only unsuspecting traveller at the ticket counter was me. In fact, the only other person in that part of the station was the teller.

He said, '£21.25.' I repeated the name of the destination. The price didn't change. I observed that it was a hell of a price increase. He laughed.

Inflated fee

Well, he wasn't paying and was actually being paid to collect the inflated fee.

What choice does the aspiring traveller have? I paid. Ripped off, a cynical side prompted.

If the train will take me there smartly, perhaps, it isn't so bad. And happily, I didn't have to wait long for the long, long train.

However, perhaps because of the stiff newish prices, the carriages were almost empty.

I shared one with just two people. But it was warm and seemed clean.

A grand tour

However, instead of hurling towards the destination, we few passengers were treated to a grand tour of Surrey, and rather slowly too, presumably so we could enjoy the wintry scene.

Eventually, at long last, we arrived in Woking, for a change of trains, and perhaps a salute to the town because it's where H G Wells wrote War of the Worlds.

The station was freezing. Any part we might use to escape the weather was locked up.

A sign encouraged that my connecting train would be here in … 60 minutes. One hour on a freezing station, out in the open...

Cape Horner

Perhaps they realised that this Cape Horner, well used to the Southern Ocean's tempestuous and freezing conditions, would find it no challenge.

However, for some reason I hadn't brought my Henri-Lloyd storm gear, and nor did the few other aspiring travellers.

I braved just ten or fifteen minutes of it, and then accepted that as Fate had kept me a stranger to pneumonia in life so far, I'd be ungrateful to dwell in the freezing place much longer.

As if admitting their rotten service, a return train pulled in at that moment. So much for Portsmouth today, so much for the overpriced fare.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which 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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