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.

Terrific to see old seafaring friends and occasional neighbours getting some fame on the net.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Never mind the feet ... Amazing skydivers whose fishing dives I've watched many times. Photo by Jenni Miska on Unsplash
Happily, not some net abandoned at sea of the sort that traps and kills so many seabirds, but via that human wonder founded by Tim Berners-Lee.

The sight of them out there in the real world is one of the great joys for sail circumnavigators.

And not just the wonderful, quite looney sight of them and their aerobatics, but as sure signs that you have definitely crossed ‘the line’, that without question you are in that vast expanse of ocean that stretches all the way down to Cape Horn and Good Hope and the Southern Ocean.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Thanks to Andy Brunner and Unsplash for this shot.
These wonderful and highly eccentric ocean birds usually turn out to welcome seafarers in the South Atlantic quite close to the Doldrums, as rare as human visits to that faraway region are these days.

Doubtlessly – hopefully - these clever, gorgeous and astonishing birds don’t really need an audience to show off to, as much as fish might wish it were so.

Astonishing dances

Sailors can enjoy the astonishing high dives of these high dive champs inside what seems rather unsuitable equipment. I don't mean to be personal, but look at those whopping great feet.

The equipment suggests that not only is their fishing technique extraordinary, it's totally unsuited to the approach to dining.

On land, according to How Stuff Works, the birds’ home is the Galapagos, a landmass quite far from where they have performed before this one-man audience.

It’s on the islands, as the video shows, that they perform their wonderful dance, reminiscent of waltzes I used to watch while playing in a dance band very many years ago.

But in the manly Atlantic, there’s none of that. Here they show off their astonishing skill as high divers.

One moment they are flying about the yacht and seemingly attempting to hide their somewhat overlarge tootsies.

The next, they’re playing SpaceX rockets and soaring high enough to shame any skylark in our part of the world.

Up, up, and away!

These large birds pretend to be Superman, flying straight up, up until you can hardly see them. Then a w a y, and they drop, fall, zoom, for sea-level like some naval weapon.

They hit the water, remarkably unsplashingly … and keep going down. Heaven knows how deep they descend. Before long they surface showing off large fish held tightly in roomy beaks.

For the watcher, the dives really are breathtaking.

When they furlough on land, no wonder they’re ready to relax with a spot of nutty dancing steps which, as the video shows, certainly appeals to the ladies.

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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