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.

If I could have my time over againhow many times do we hear people say that – but if I could, being able to speak many languages would be near the top of the wish list.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Talk the talk ... When humans are together, they love to talk. However, the astonishing number of languages we use for conversation is quite a talking point in itself. Photo by Matt Lamers on Unsplash, with many thanks.
It is strange that our species can't get by with just one common language.

It's amazing, staggering, the number of tongues we use.

Sparrows nor eagles, camels or calves don't seem to tweet or grunt or roar in different ways depending on their locations.

Same breath

In the same breath, one could almost ask if we need a language at all.

For instance, Adam didn't seem to suffer much of a handicap with Eve.

Staying with fantasy for a moment, when I meet up with family Up There, I'll ask my mother why she didn't pass on her excellent French.

It seems that up to the age of about seven, little humans can pick up additional languages really quickly.

The top five languages we use to talk ...
1. Chinese/Mandarin — 37 countries, 13 dialects, 1,284 million speakers
2. Spanish — 31 countries, 437 million
3. English — 106 countries, 372 million
4. Arabic — 57 countries, 19 dialects, 295 million
5. Hindi — 5 countries, 260 million ...
Of course, you only have to listen in Lidl's or Aldi to hear toddlers switching easily between English and their mother's language and even ones that sound as if they have no background in Latin.

I did learn schoolboy French once, and in of all faraway places Central Otago, the heart of the fruit-growing district in southern New Zealand.

I expect the accent would have been decidedly more Kiwi than, well, Calais.

How many, do you think?

If we met over coffee in Caffe Nero, where there are often low-priced specials – at least, so their promotional messages report – and I asked you to number the languages we humans have, what would be your guess?

You might offer German and Polish and Gaelic and English and … But would you be likely to guess the actual number?

If I tried, I'd have been out by a mile. Believe it or not, but as writer Matt Rosenberg reports in Thought Co that there are 6,909 languages.

Nearly 7,000! Isn't that extraordinary? And what a revelation that many of us can speak just one seven-thousandth of human languages.

Schoolboy French

Once I did have an interesting second tongue, Polynesian, but now I can't manage even in the language of our closest neighbour, schoolboy French, cobber.

ThoughtCo doesn't name each of that vast collection of tongues. Interestingly, though, it gives us the top 10.

If I guessed what they might be, I'd have put English first, then German, and perhaps Spanish a little further back.

Surprisingly, German isn't part of the top ten. There's a shock for our tongue, too. Apparently, 372 million of us manage English, but three and three-quarters more speak Chinese.

Here's the top ten human tongues:

1. Chinese/Mandarin — 37 countries, 13 dialects, 1,284 million speakers
2. Spanish — 31 countries, 437 million
3. English — 106 countries, 372 million
4. Arabic — 57 countries, 19 dialects, 295 million
5. Hindi — 5 countries, 260 million
6. Bengali — 4 countries, 242 million
7. Portuguese — 13 countries, 219 million
8. Russian — 19 countries, 154 million
9. Japanese — 2 countries, 128 million
10. Lahnda — 6 countries, 119 million

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