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.

Blokes of foreign nationality might well feel they can sail into dear old Blighty and make this ancient land their home.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
... If you've got feathers, welcome to these isles. Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The birds are not far behind, but these beauties are feathered and really are beauties, physically just about perfect.

The authorities, as we have read, have been flexing their muscles over the males trying to barge, or tanker, in.


The opposite is the case for the females flocking here.

Admittedly, these are truly almost perfect creatures which bias suggests the others might not be.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Welcome ... The visitor we like and his own kind welcomes, too. Thanks to RSPB for the image.
These are the feathered creatures, gorgeous starlings that enjoy summer days in Europe but wisely prefer our island climate for the cooler months.

How come these vast numbers of non-Brits can get in when a handful of humans can’t? It's not as if UK is exactly short of birds, of course.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says we do have many, many resident starlings.

Arrival of thousands

‘This number almost doubles every winter with the arrival of thousands of more starlings from Eastern Europe.

‘Hard weather there forces them to migrate west in search of food.’

They set a surprisingly good example to humans because our starlings don’t object to the foreigners, and seem perfectly happy to share the winter stocks with them.

Unlike human foreigners who arrive, these handsome visitors know when to go home and very importantly they respect certain taboos.

Worldly brains

Human arrivals seem unable to ignore Brit gals of page 3 proportions and those who aren't quite.

Of course, this doesn’t go well with local males. However, starling bird brains are worldy.

Rather than risk upsets, the visitors never tweet up local birds. As soon as the spring sap starts to rise, the migrants set off for their summer homes and their own migrating maidens.

Consequentially, no aggro, no uniformed members of their species forcing them to leave. Peace reigns in British nests.

The RSPB says that flocks of migrant starlings have flown across the North Sea from Belgium or the Netherlands, after travelling across northern Europe.

‘In Norfolk, 409,000 starlings were counted passing overhead in autumn 1997, including 87,000 on the 16th October alone.'

The visitors join Brit starlings to form huge flocks, often roosting in parks, reedbeds or city centres.

Rather cleverer

In spring, the migrant starlings return to Europe, while our own resident birds set up breeding territories here.

As the species seems rather cleverer than some of ours, knowing how to make and keep friends, it seems surprising that the clever and diplomatic starling’s breed is actually in decline.

The breeding population here has fallen by about 50 per cent recently, the society reports. ‘Scientists think that modern farming practices may be to blame.'

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