What would you like to learn today, or perhaps being a little more optimistic, what are you learning today? Or even more realistically, what would you like to be learning, if you could only find the time?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Noteworthy ... Even up on a mountain slope, notes can be taken qwuickly with shorthand. It's a skill that's not just very handy for sailing ... Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash - many thanks to Tyler and model and Unsplash.
Then, just when you’re thinking of the perfect reason for putting the idea off till tomorrow - which is so much wiser than rushing into things - you remember some of the subjects friends claim to be learning.

Very quickly you realise they are doing it - obviously - to shame you.

Really discouraging

Dwelling on the determination and eagerness of friends can be really discouraging.

Let me tell you about the learning projects of one or two of them in my life. It's infuriating.

One’s studying yoga, another is doing some senior study at university in grief counselling - good grief.

One boasts of spending an age perfecting handstands, or is it headstands, and another high finance, which I gather means investing lumps of your savings online, rather like a real-life game of Monopoly.

Inspired by my first sail in twenty years last month, imagination is prompting me towards a marathon voyage, and for that I need to refresh many skills.

Wads of info

So, yes, I am obliging me to learn, or relearn. Or to think about it.

If you were to see me at the gym these mornings, you would find wads of information propped up before me as if I were back playing in a band again.

You might think that a number of diagrams of sailing shapes should be there, must be there.

However, basics like sail curvature and positions from my singlehanded circumnavigation, and during those many, many years as a professional seafarer, have been tattooed indelibly into the senses.

No, what you’d see is Morse – dah dit dah dit, dit dah dah - CW (Continuous Wave) in the lingo, necessary for amateur radio and very much for emergencies.

Not exactly essential

You might be surprised to see quite a wad of typed verses, The Sea and the Hills, by Kipling, naturally, but plenty, too, of Shakespeare.

Such things are not exactly essential for making long voyages, but very nearly so, especially for long spells at the tiller. And the memorising is very good for the grey matter, something mature people need to exercise we're told, and really pleasant on shore for reciting on long walks.

You could be wondering about that page of squiggles. That’s to help me decipher my shorthand diary from that ghastly time of unjust captivity - eight years and fourteen days of horror. The purpose of relearning Teeline for the great mound of notes is for an appeal, and maybe for a story or two from that inhuman nightmare.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

The magic of Morse

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