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.

A friend said, ‘Don’t know why the lockdown should bother you. Isn’t this just what it’s like for your favourite way of sailing, solo, and not a soul nearby?’

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory  on the adventure book Sailing to Purgatory blog website.
Impressment ... and impressive. It's often much more pleasant to have someone along on a voyage to, well, um, keep a good lookout .... Photo by Luisa Denu on Unsplash
He had a point, of course, but it really couldn’t be more different.

On land, comparatively, there’s so little to do.

At sea alone, one man – you – must do the work of several people, a crew, and no slacking.

A challenge

A very large percentage of my sailing has been solo, and it’s a challenge I enjoy. This solitary land stuff though is very different. I live alone so if I conform to our glorious leaders’ edicts, I must stay alone.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory  on the adventure book Sailing to Purgatory blog website.
To Davey Jones ... This was a wonderful yacht I did lose after she ran into a submerged container close to the Roaring Forties.
We’re locked down because otherwise we might catch Covid or we might pass it on. If we share our lives with only those closest, we’re not at risk and nor are others.


Or the risk is minimised as much as it can be.

That’s the philosophy, anyway, if any actual philosophy is involved in the way authority tries to keep from losing its taxpayers to this relatively new threat to life.

However, is sailing alone like living alone?

Alone at sea allows for little time for relaxation or wandering about the decks vacantly wishing you weren’t solitary ...
For the lone liver, there’s very little demand on what happens on terra firma, at home.

At sea, I must be constantly vigilant because the oceans might be huge, but so are ocean liners and merchant ships.


If a ship ran into me, the yacht would sink. Luck might let me survive the collision.

But it is highly unlikely the ship would offer help because its very unlikely the crew would even be aware of the strike.

Often yachts don’t show up on radar, and of course, officers on watch can’t be/won’t be on watch every minute.

Alone at sea allows for little time for relaxation or wandering about the decks vacantly wishing you weren’t solitary.

The vessel must be kept shipshape. Sails need adjusting many times a day, and they often need changing, larger or smaller, following the changes and strength of the elements.


The weather and barometer must be watched, the yacht’s sea-worthiness checked often. You can’t be lax because if a failure sinks the vessel, you’ll only have yourself to blame, assuming you survive long enough to recognise the blame.

At home, though, wishing such-and-such a friend would phone, or appear, or if only some divine form might ring the doorbell, involves the imagination, and little else.

Given the choice, let me use my solo time out there on the blue, instead of facing the blues all alone here in our locked down madness, oops, isolation.

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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