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.

How often we hear at funerals the optimism that the departed have ‘gone to a better place.’

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Yes, we have lotsa bananas ... Josephine Baker, star of the late 1920s who I'll hope to be meeting Up There. Thanks to Wikipedia: Josephine Baker in a banana skirt from the Folies Bergère production Un Vent de Folie, 1927 By Creator: Walery, Polish-British, 1863-1929 - By Creator:Walery, Polish-British, 1863-1929 - http://www.sheldonconcerthall.org/bakerpress.asp, Public Domain, Link
What can it possibly mean? Thankfully the internet has the answers.

Most websites that 'know' confirm that once we exit this mortal coil, we are off to heaven.

As children, we learn that heaven is not a place for naughty people.

But they don't tell us that there are exceptions.

A little later, we discover that the post-life Butlins is called Paradise.

Latitude

But no-one thinks to offer its latitude or longitude, or the course to get there and the distance.

Sadly NASA doesn't appear to add it to astronauts’ assignments.

They don't instruct, ‘Keep an eye out for your grandparents and a horde of about 107 billion, easily recognised because they'll all be sporting white wings lovely enough to shame an albatross.’

But what we do know is that – not surprisingly – humans remain really curious about the post-life destination and have done since our species first grazed upon our planet.

Brimful with knowledge

Each of us today - and over the yesterdays - plus-minus studied for most of our lives, learned other languages, ensured we were brimful with knowledge.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Betty Grable before the wings ... Here's another star well worth meeting Up There, when the time comes, an actress who won lots of hearts here rather a lot of years ago. Thanks to Wikipedia: Betty Grable's famous pin-up photo from 1943. By Frank Powolny - 20th Century Fox studio promo portrait [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8886210
Surely that wouldn’t all evaporate into the air as each expires, as we head off for better place.

Late in life admittedly, I certainly listened intently when the gifted film composer David Amram, told Radio 3 on Saturday how cheered he was by the assurance of a very bright friend that when the body dies, the spirit is born and is eternal.

Well, well, that’s encouraging and think of the people, er, spirits, whose stories we'll hear.

Angelic mouths

Perhaps we'll learn more history from the angelic mouths of hara-kiri suicide pilots from WW2.

And perhaps I'll get the chance to have a heavenly coffee with Churchill and Hitler, who featured regularly in my parents' conversations in my earliest years.

And possibly brush against the 10-year-old feathery wings of the 9/11 suicide pilot and bombers for instance or better still hear what the victims have to say, and how they have made their peace, perhaps, with these neighbours ... and even what Titannic passengers who had never swum in their lives reveal.

Family-wise, I have some questions for my grandparents and what pleasure it will be to meet the naval captains on my mother’s side.

I'd really like to know what Captain Cook made of my novel, To Kill a God (Heinemann), and compare our experiences of Southern Ocean navigation.

Important human questions

This post-life interest is really such a basic, simple and important human question, that it poses important questions:

★☆ Where actually is that better place?
★☆ Are there gyms?
★☆ And a library or two?
★☆ Do we retain that lifetime of learning or need to enrol at a heavenly university?
★☆ And – well - rather a lot of things that the space here is a little too cramped to allow.

Finally – not that there can be a finally on a subject of the everlasting – how come not one of the departed 107 billion humans has been bothered to come back to reassure us?

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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