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.

People who don't sail are often very surprised when they can't find the headlights on a yacht. We don't have them because we don't use them, I say.

Then how do you see what lies in the water ahead?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Starry eyed .... A NASA atronomer explains, 'The best known asterism in northern skies, The Big Dipper is easy to recognise, though some might see The Plough. Either way, the star names and the familiar outlines will appear in this thoughtfully composed ... image. Dubhe, alpha star of the dipper's parent constellation Ursa Major is at the upper right. Together with beta star Merak below, the two form a line pointing the way to Polaris and the North Celestial Pole off the top edge of the field. Notable too in skygazing-lore Mizar, second star from the left in the dipper's handle, forms a vision-testing visual double star with apparently close Alcor.' Many thanks to NASA, and to Rogelio Bernal Andreo for his image.

Usually the sea ahead contains no obstructions, because islands and rocks and ocasional buoys are shown on charts. So we don't really need to see ahead.

'How come you ran into a container then?' a friend asked, referring to my new story, working title, Adrift, suffering for the present under a publisher's critical gaze.

One of the finest sights

Containers that fall from ships, a huge number each year, are usually not seen at night. But then, the sea covers a vast area, covering twice as much of the planet as land.

What we do see at night are stars, and one of the finest sights for a homeward bound ocean-goer is the constellation of The Plough.

Sailing up from the Equator, I see the stars - an asterism rather than a constellation, apparently - from around 30 degrees North. What intense pleasure that brings, and goes on bringing on every fair weather night all the way home.

The brightest seven

The website, ThoughtCo, tells a long story tonight about The Plough, or Big Dipper, depending on which side of the Pond you live. The article is well worth the read, here

The seven stars - Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid - are a wonderful sight. Even now, as a landlubber, on our not exactly common cloudless nights, you'll find me out in the garden admiring those seven brightest stars of the constellation, Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

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