This is a story of a boy who is forced to become a man and to choose the right path on the road to the unknown and unexpected destination to which he is guided. It´s a story about evil and how in the world he discovers, he, as all young people really do need help and guidance in the avoidance of it as it besets him constantly in its every guise and at every turn on practically each day of his young life. How at the end of the day there is only one direction in which he can turn to choose the right road out of the many offered to him in his daily life by agents of evil clothed ingeniously as all sorts in the world he finds unfolding before him.

When I was fifteen I wanted to know how to go forward something had to be done

The boy who sailed to spain (full synopsis)

Set in North Africa and Spain in 2015. Masuhun´s family have been Christians since before Islam was born, since the time of Augustine of Hippo and the presence of the Romans. They live in North Africa where he follows his father´s every footstep loving him and his company at every opportunity. Till one day after the celebration of house mass, in the night hooded men come to their home. In spite of the boy´s reckless intervention, they brutally slay his father, Afra.

The tribe comes belatedly to the house to protect them but Masuhun runs amok once he recovers consciousness, screaming accusing them of cowardice and that they wanted his father dead. On his deathbed Afra charges the boy with going to the stone, in Europe, on which stand the Mother and Child. There to implore her to once again succour their people as she has done through the millennia in times of persecution and slaughter.

The next morning as the sun rises, the distraught boy prepares his tiny craft, with the reluctant aid of an old friend of his father who guards the boats. They launch him into perilous seas where a heavy levanter is blowing.  The boy´s personality starts to show itself, first disposing of an unwanted but quite charming would be stowaway. Much later in heavy seas the night comes, to his great desperation. Tied to the mast for survival, he is rescued by a Gibraltarian tugboat. He arrives in Spain at El Coto Doñana and starts to follow his road in the finding of The Mother and Child. In his journey he suffers major setbacks and finds that he has many enemies but as he travels, time and again he finds that the faith that brought him on such a crazy journey was well placed and is consistently fortified as the journey continues. His meeting with an ancient hooded nun at the historical town of Jimena de La Frontera gives him the knowledge that all that has happened so far is by no means fortuitous. Her subsequently inexplicable disappearance leaves him stranded and without papers, roofless and hungry in the centre of Andalucía. His adventures continue, meeting evil people and good, being chased by ruthless killers for reasons he cannot understand. Finally the Spanish Para-military police the Guardia Civil also begin to conduct a national manhunt for the boy

Entwined in the story is the Spain of the year seven eleven.  The Berber general Tariq defeats the Visigoth king and the rule of the caliphate of Al Andaluz begins. In 1309 the Spanish king Ferdinand embarks on the recapture of Spain, conquers Gibraltar, and our story begins. Masuhun ever faithful to his father´s memory continues his quest now with the help of two children he be-friends, and their families and colleagues. The military and Special Forces backgrounds of his new allies come at the moment when he needs miracles to assist him carrying out his father´s desires. His dreams and the people he has met along the road slowly start to show him that faith does move mountains. He finds that all the evils that are sent to beset him as he travels, are but snares. That it will only be by using his faith and his mystic guides that he will tread the path of the righteous and follow his road to a destination for reasons and in more ways than the ones he had believed were the only motives for his journey. 

As the story climaxes Masuhun and his friends run up against unassailable opposition, and also receive help in the most dramatic and unexpected way.


This is a story of a boy who is forced to become a man and to choose the right path on the road to the unknown and unexpected destination to which he is guided. It´s a story about evil and how in the world he discovers, he, as all young people really do need help and guidance in the avoidance of it as it besets him constantly in its every guise and at every turn on practically each day of his young life. How at the end of the day there is only one direction in which he can turn to choose the right road out of the many offered to him in his daily life by agents of evil clothed ingeniously as all sorts in the world he finds unfolding before him.

Paul Ogarra, Author, official biography.

 Paul OGarra was born in Gibraltar on the 8th may 1962. His father, Louis, was a British schoolteacher from Manchester turned soldier by the war and served with the Royal artillery on the Rock. He returned after the war was over and started a school, St Josephs, the first postwar school. Gibraltar still having, but scantily, recovered from the turbulent years. The nightly air raids and flak barrages, the suffering that comes with any major armed conflict still vividly engrained in the recent memory of the wartime inhabitants. Trying to get back to business as usual as the troopships began to dock in the harbour. They carried the many returning refugee families who had been evacuated by the Royal navy. So many Gibraltarian people exiled by war to the Uk, and to further off, and more exotic places such as Madeira, French Morocco, Jamaica and Northern Ireland .

Louis married Teresa Azzopardi, the beautiful young daughter, baby of a family of Gibraltarian shipchandlers, fervent Roman Catholics, descendents of intrepid men and women who had rowed in their longboats from Malta to make a home on the Rock. Louis and Teresa had four children of whom Paul was the third eldest. The children were reared with English discipline,  learning and romantic literature on the one hand, and a large local family of uncles, aunts,  cousins and a doting grandmother,  who was Spanish from Cadiz, on the other.

Childhood was spent roaming across the Up South ,Rosia and Europa point areas of Gibraltar engaging in childish games and adventures, reading extensively books such as Enid Blyton¨s adventure series, Famous Five, Secret Seven , Swallows and Amazons for ever, John Buchan and the Gorbal diehards. Saturday mornings were a day for delving and searching through the shelves of the old Garrison library to discover new horizons, characters and stories. The journey of discovery that had begun with Baba the Elephant eventually began to grow richer as the classics were devoured.

Paul was educated at Bishop Fitzgerald’s school where his father was the headmaster and insisted on treating all the boys equally. Subsequently he attended Gibraltar Grammar school, until seeing fellow students of Jewish persuasion prepare to leave for Tel Aviv to defend Israel. The Jewish boys had their adventure spoiled by the pre-mature arrival of General Moshe Dayan at the gates of Cairo. Israel´s direst moment had been overcome and young students from all over the world were no longer so necessary that their studies and futures could be jeopardized. The Holy land was safe and the General with a patch over his eye, the new unchallenged darling of the Western world.  Paul, at the earliest time possible set off in a steamer from Tangiers, sailing to Southampton with a friend who was shipping Moroccan leather goods to the Uk. After working a spell in London he left UK to discover his roots in Malta . Later it was a case of returning to Gib. only to fly away again to discover new places.He alternated callings as a tour guide of Morocco and recoverer of broken down rented cars in the desert, tour guide of south Spain and eventually running  a Flamenco club on the Costa del sol, in the days when the Costa was still a new and exciting place to visit.

In later years Paul was to marry and have a family of three girls, own and run Estate agency businesses in the Uk and Spain. Eventually he set off again to discover  new places in the middle and far East and phillippines, and when Perestroika and glastnost finally arrived at the hands of Mihail Gorbacheff and the Soviet union was open,  set off to discover the East.  He studied Russian at St Petersburg and spent time travelling to the Republic of Udmurtia, kazan, Siberia and up an uncharted river to meet Tribes that still lived in the area. Nizhny Novgorod and the South Volga. Then to the Ukraine travelling from city to city, falling more and more in love with the great Russian writers and painters as he went.

Fourteen years ago at the age of fifty, Paul contracted Renal cancer . He was operated on successfully at the Bullfighters Hospital in Pamplona in North Spain. The next two years he spent living life to its full in the company of Spanish and Russian friends who had come to find him in hospital just three days after intensive care.  They came armed with a ham and lots of wine. The resulting  post surgery celebration was broken up by the timely appearance of the hospital chaplain. The operation had been a success as the tumour had been totally encapsulated within the removed kidney. Metastasis was practically impossible the surgeons happily reported. Two years later the cancer metastasised to his lungs on which he was duly operated and half of his lungs were removed. Later for reasons undefined he suffered strokes in both eyes and lost partial sight in one eye and total in the left which he duly recovered by swimming and praying. Thirteen  years have gone by since the renal cancer was first discovered, and seven years since his last operation and everything is fine ,remission seems to be total.

Paul’s lifestyle has not been affected due to his illnesses because of his hard-headedness. He still swims at least one or two kilometres per day all year round, travels, practises martial arts and fervently believes that the Lord leads him by the hand. After leaving hospital he spent some time in Tangiers, hairless, gaunt and on crutches, but enjoying the warmth and affection of many new friends there. Then off to Prague to study filmmaking, made several shorts but finally decided that he would first write and then make movies when the time came.

The Boy who sailed to Spain is Paul O´Garra´s first published work and will be followed in the new year with a collection of short stories and a second book, making the boy who sailed to Spain the first in a series.

Extracts from the boy who sailed to spain

Chasing the waves

Then a big one came right where we were and I paddled vigorously to stay with her till I got to just beyond her crest so that I was no longer powering, it was the wave that was carrying me forward. I got the feel of it at once, it was all a question of riding in just the exact spot, not too far forward nor too far back. I could feel the need for maintaining the right balance as the wave was holding me up and driving me forward; adrenaline rushed through me and I felt incredible. So with my instant confidence, I tried gingerly getting to my feet, kneeling first, then falteringly standing on wobbling legs. Suddenly, whoomph! The whole thing went and I was caught up in the wave, my board was wrenched from me. I was tumbling, seawater going up my nostrils; the sea was holding me under. I felt a spasm of panic; I just couldn’t get to the surface and breathe, then just as suddenly, my unexpected ride was over. I found my feet, stood, and drank in the fresh delicious air. I looked around for my board and saw a bearded guy smiling my way. A guy with a face like, well, the archangel Gabriel. I mean, he just looked sort of ultra-biblical. He wasn’t that big, but his shoulders were wide and his face sort of radiated goodness, so I smiled back

extracts from the boy who sailed to spain


“Masuhun!’ He says my name loudly, ‘Masuhun! I never told you. Your name, the name your mother and I and your grandfather chose for you.’ He still held me, pinning me ferociously by my arms as he looked into my eyes. I felt his strength. Many times, he had had to defend our shop against intruders I never understood, and here he was now, holding me and loving me, his eldest son. ‘Your name means, “He who has been anointed.”’

I felt the hairs bristle on the back of my head; why I don’t know. It was as if all my daydreams about my destiny, the kind all boys have, were suddenly about to become true.

‘Papa, does a name truly mean anything? After all, it is normally just a random choice or taken from other relatives of the same name.’

His mask had fallen back into place, and he again became the man of easy demeanour, gentle and patient; the man we all knew and held dear.

‘What do we know, boy? What do we know? Only what is revealed to us. How many parents, upon discovering the meaning of the given name of their child, wonder how it is possible that the child bears most of the characteristics attributed to the name, to its meaning? I believe that in many cases the child already bore the name long before birth.


That night, late, they came again, many of them. When I heard voices raised in argument, I pulled on my robe and ran to the front of the house. As I peered from the balcony, I saw them around my father, striking him, and he was punching and knocking them down. There were so many, it was like a pack of hungry wolves worrying a buffalo. Screaming, I leapt from the house and threw myself at one and then another, flailing wildly with my fists, striking flesh and bone, but there was a blinding flash. Later my mother woke me with wails and kisses, followed by exclamations of relief when she saw I was alive. They told me he had fought like a tiger, but they’d left him for dead. The house was filled with men, cousins, uncles, and brothers. When I awoke, I screamed at them, ‘Cowards, bastards, where were you when the killers came?’

They said he was dying. They had come, the Amazigh, our people, but they were too late. I ran crazily through the house, saying he was not dying; they wanted him dead, but he was not dying. I reached the bedroom where he lay, and they took me in to him. He spoke to me as I kissed him, asking him not to go.

‘Masuhun, find the place on the stone where the blessed mother comes.’

I fought against the tears. I didn’t want him to die; I wanted to walk with him, fish together, ride, sail; I just wanted to be with my father. I swiped angrily at my face—at the tears—but they were flowing fast and free now, blinding me.

‘No papa, don’t go; please, papa, papa, papa.’

‘Masuhun, ask her to protect us again as before. She will listen to you, you are named for her son.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -----------------------------------------------------------------------

She was pulling to one side; I pushed the tiller over to right her, but nothing happened. Maybe the tiller was fouled. Then I saw him hanging onto the rear, his fists were big and closed on the bar and he just dragged out behind. It looked like one of those African fellows off the beach. The boat was pulled down at the back by the extra weight pulling on us, and the waves were starting to buffet us side on. She was just a tiny cat and the waves we had to climb to get out of the shore area were big. If I couldn’t get her nose down and straighten her out so that she met the waves head on, we would be overturned. So I leapt forward, having fastened the sail, and jumped out onto the starboard hull as a counterbalance—like with a patin catalan, a sailing boat whose only steering mechanism is the sailor using his body weight. Well it worked; we rode the breakers, albeit more sluggishly than usual. Out beyond the waves, where the swell diminished and the waves were wide, I relaxed the tension of the sail. The boat slowed down and the man clambered aboard. He seemed quite sheepish about things and didn’t look me in the eye.

I shouted at him, ‘Qu’est ce que tu veux? Es tu fou? Qu’est ce que tu fais?’ (What are you doing? Are you crazy? What do you want?)

‘I don’t spik da lingo. I spik English.’

Thanks to my father, who always insisted we speak English at home and that we studied and read English classics and newspapers, English was as much my mother tongue as were Arabic and French.

‘What do you want? Why have you come onto my boat?’

‘My name is William. I have come all the way from Ivory Coast to get to da Europe, and here at da last step, I am held back by this beet of wata. And so I saw you and your bag, and I knew at once you are going to cross to da Europe.’

‘Sorry, friend, better you return to the beach. I am going on a mission, a quest, from which perhaps I will not return.’ Even as it came into my mind that I was being pompous, I knew I was speaking as much to myself as to him, and for the first time, I realised as I spoke that following my normal impetuosity, I had embarked on a voyage to cross one of the most treacherous stretches of ocean in the world. ‘Jesus, be my light, help me,’ I silently uttered, but it mustn’t have been that silent, as William burst out.

‘Then we are braadas, you and me. We are braadas. I also am a Christian. I will come with you. Together, we will be OK.’

‘Are you a strong swimmer?’ I asked him.

‘Da best. I can swim like a shak, don you worry none abbaht William. I can swim foreber even in da heavy seas.’

I liked him; he was so natural. Pictures flashed before my eyes of William out at sea hanging onto a piece of wood, so I pulled the sail tight and laid her side on to the increasing wind. The cat suddenly went up onto one fin; a trick I had learnt and perfected with constant practise. In fact, I could actually sail on one fin for as long as five minutes. William slid off the wet canvas and into the sea as the boat forged ahead.

‘Why, my braada?’ he wailed. ‘Why you do dat?’

‘Because you seem a nice man and I don’t want you on my conscience. I will come to find you when I return,’ I shouted, and whether he heard me or not I don’t know. I did know, however, that he could easily regain the shore in just a matter of minutes. He was, after all, a swimmer as strong as a shak.