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.

Imagine going on holiday to escape our crazy virus laws. You’ve chosen some very special location in the sun, travel from the airport to the smart accommodation, and the local government announces the strictest lockdown.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Rosalind the writer ... Back in her days in journalism in New Zealand, well before establishing herself in exciting though sadly epidemic-struck Panama.
It’s a scenario I often imagine, especially when consoling myself for an unadventurous summer.

Quite by accident, I bumped into an old friend online, a lady who was an important colleague back in my journalism days.

A surprise

Rosalind had moved to Panama many, many years ago.

The moment we met by surprise on WhatsApp, I thought enviously of her life in the sun, far, far from any weird internal bugs and lockdowns and crazy stop-at-home restrictions.

As I learned quickly, though, Panama is yet another wonderful location brought down by the dreaded bug.

Life in UK gives the impression of returning towards normal. We can go shopping when the mood takes us, even if we have to wear masks soon when we do.

Out of bounds

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Not exactly an English country garden ... The lockdown makes life frustrating for Rosalind in Panama. But the chance to read a book in a garden like this has to make even a lockdown feel, well, nearly acceptable.
We can’t go to the library, and gyms remain out-of-bounds.

In Panama where the sun is much more reliable, lockdown that began earlier in the year wasn’t. They are enduring an extended lockdown.

Rosalind told me, ‘We are now into the fourth month of a lockdown and things are not improving. In the last 24 hours, we’ve had 988 more cases and 22 deaths.

‘Jim and I have been fine with projects to keep us challenged but I am beginning to lose patience.

Shopping 7 - 10 am

‘We have a shopping slot from 7am to 10am. It’s for men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and women on the other weekdays.’

Everything is closed on Sundays.

‘Then there is silence - just the sound of the jungle. It makes shopping feel the main event in life.’

Rosalind praises Panama’s management of the lockdown.

She is a New Zealander and notes that Panama was ahead of her homeland in countering the virus with lockdowns and closed borders. I wondered why Panama didn't match New Zealand's success.

Tight rules

‘I suspect that in some poorer areas they live closer together and mix more freely.

‘The rules have been tight from day 1 - around March 24. Only supermarkets and pharmacies were allowed to open. A curfew ran from 6pm to 5am and we had three-hour shopping slots.

‘But when the cases kept coming, shopping was changed to separate days for men and women.

‘There are road checks and flaunting the regulations brought big fines. A Jewish wedding held on the top of a new high rise was fined $100,000!’

Suddenly, our UK lockdown feels rather more acceptable.

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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