Campbeltown Malts Festival:
Glasgow to Campbeltown, and a walking tour

Getting out of bed the next morning was easier than could be expected, but the motivation was there. The bus for Campbeltown was leaving Buchanan at a quarter past nine, and if we missed that bus we would miss our first event: A walking tour with Kate Watt. So we made haste towards the bus station, stopping at a convenient Sainsbury’s for lunch and drink supplies and made it to Buchanan in good time. But then we decided coffee would be a good idea, and Mats was left to watch our bags while Eva and I got in line at the station cafe. Unfortunately the guy behind the counter turned out to be unable to keep track of orders and money received (and also be eager to chat to regulars, which is understandable, but inconvenient). But we got our coffee eventually, found seats on the bus and (well, speaking for myself) relaxed mentally. With a four hour bus ride ahead of us, there was not much to do except lean back and enjoy the Scottish landscape zooming past.

In Inverary the bus stops for ten minutes and I sprinted over to Loch Fyne Whiskies to see if they had any of their own bottlings available. Since they did, a Bunnahabhain, I made a purchase of that plus a variety pack of three Fyne Ales bottles. When I exited the shop and checked the time I realised I still had seven minutes, enough to obtain a cup of coffe, hopefully, before the bus left. Pretty efficient shopping, even if I do say so myself.

Utsikt fra bussen
View from the bus

After Inverary the bus stopped by Kennacraig ferry terminal, naturally, which is where you’d get the ferry to Islay, and I must admit I was a little tempted to jump off and get on board the ferry, but I resisted, and soon after Campbeltown came into view at last.

Campbeltown is not a big town, so we found Earadale B&B easily enough, and were led from there around the block to No 16 Argyll Street, where the self catering flat we had ooked for the next two night was located. We’d observed a Cooperative branch from the bus, and with no time to lose we set off for it and purchased the neccessary breakfast and snack staples for our two day stay. With about half an hour to spare before our rendevouz down at the harbour, I set off in search of Fish & Chips (I was getting distinctly peckish), and found an open cafe at last, though I had to bring the food and eat it on the move.

No 16 Argyle Street
No 16 Argyle Street

We met Kate Watt and 15-20 other walking (or pubcrawl) tour participants by the Tourist Information by the harbour, all ready and eager for Whisky Impressions’ first guided walk: Liquid History.

Kate Watt, Whisky Impressions
Kate Watt, Whisky Impressions

Kate started the tour by giving us an introduction to the history of Campbeltown. I took plenty of notes for my own benefit, but I’ll skip the history lesson here.

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We visited three pubs as part of the tour (but had many more pointed out to us), The Feathers, Kilbrannan and Burnside, and had a “half and half” at each one, that is half a pint of beer and a half measure of whisky. The whisky was good and the pubs were friendly, but the beer selection was pretty dire. Tenants and Guiness were repeat performers, as well as Heverlee, new to us, but not an aquaintance we were eager to develop further. Nevertheless, we had a very good time, and I will most certainly repeat the experience if I ever get the chance.

We’d have happily hung out with Kate and the rest of the group for a good while longer, but were painfully aware that we had a dinner to attend and that we were rather in need of a brush up before that, so we bid our goodbyes and headed back to base. A report from the dinner, well, the parts I actually participated in, will follow.

More pictures on Flickr:

Campbeltown Del 2

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Campbeltown Malts Festival part 1: Trondheim to Glasgow

Due to a combination of the usual travel-induced insomnia and obsessing over whether I had remembered everything for the 17th of May celebrations (it being my first year as a band mum on top of everything) I started my trip to Campbeltown with all of two hours sleep (and five hours restless dozing). Luckily I was also on an travel-induced adrenaline high, so I managed surprisingly well all things considered.

I met up with my travel companions, Eva and Mats, at Værnes (Trondheim Airport). They’d made a brave effort to get the same airport express as me, but I was even earlier than I’d said I would be. We checked in and got through security without a hitch. We’d had a message from the airline, Norwegian, that because of the ongoing strike there would be no food or drink available on board, and we were also prepared for limited service at the airport. We had hoped for an Untappd check-in at O’Leary’s, but it was not to be.

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The flight to Gardermoen was uneventful, and once through to the international terminal at Gardermoen we could purchase both food and drink. We landed in Edinburgh according to schedule, got our luggage and made for “Bus stops” to find the bus to Glasgow. It was now past nine local time, and we were eager to get to the hotel to check in.

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Interesting signage, we wantet stand C, which is in fact before stand A and B…

While we waited for the bus, a familiar gentleman came strolling towards “Stand C”, Jon Bertelsen had obviously arrived on the same flight and was also staying in Glasgow that evening. After an hour’s bus ride and a quick walk, Eva, Mats and I checked in to Best Western Glasgow City Hotel. Jon sent a message to say he was now at The Pot Still and that they closed at midnight, so we plunged out into the Glagow evening, beauty sleep be damned.

Håndpumper på The Pot Still, bak skimter du en brøkdel av whiskyutvalget.
Handpumps at The Pot Still, a fraction of their whisky collection is visible at the back of the bar.

After a congenial hour or so at The Pot Still we made an attempt at getting another pint at Jon’s hotel (which was close by), but they were only serving guests, not guests of guests, at that time of night, so the three of us bid Jon good night and see-you-soon and made our way back to Best Western and our beds. Just as well, really, because we had a bus we HAD to catch in the morning.

Slik ser det ut når man nerder seg sammen over øl og whisky... Ja, vi var bare fire. Ja, vi hadde bare en liten time.
This is what it looks like when beer and whisky nerds meet..

Talking about Best Western: We booked through Hotels.com with our main criteria being relative nearness to Buchanan Bus Station, wifi and cheapness. At arrival, I got a keycard that didn’t work, but that was resolved in a timely manner an apart from that I had no complaints. The rooms were relatively spacious, my bed was impeccable. And the door had both a physical lock in addition to the electronic one (always more satisfying), and also a security chain, which quite simply does wonders for my stress levels.

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My room at Best Western Glasgow City
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Security chain AND lock!

See, a hotel review as a bonus.

Part 2 to follow.

The Dark Expedition – Hindsight is 20/20 and a giveaway

All entries about The Dark Expedition: Preamble, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

Even though I signed off earlier than planned – to the extent of paying my own way back home to avoid the return trip – sailing with Celeste was a fantastic experience. If I could have had two or three nights’ sleep on Orkney I’d have been ready to sign back on, as it is I can’t really regret leaving when I did. (Even less when I found that they lost contact with the rudder at one point durring the passage back.) I’m afraid I tackle a sleep deficit rather badly, unfortunately combined with insomnia in not ideal conditions. It didn’t help that with one exception (and the three professionals, obviously) the whole “crew” was leaving in Kirkwall, their places to be taken by a new group of people. I’m something of an introvert, even if it’s not always obvious, and one new group of friends for life (it turns out you do actually end up feeling that way about people you’ve crossed the North Sea with) felt like more than enough to be getting on with. I did not feel up to getting to know a whole new group of (undoubtedly lovely) people and I was positively relishing hanging out in Aberdeen all on my own. And as it turns out I’m more of a daytrip sort of sailor, not really all that into crossing oceans. I seem to like reading about storms more than I like sailing through them. That said, I am not averse to joining another expedition in the future, given the chance, though I will come better prepared next time.

One of the things I’d have done differently with hindsight is that I would have insisted on flying in to Gothenburg on Sunday evening, so I could get a proper night’s sleep in a hotel and not start the trip with a sleep deficit due to the early flight from Trondheim.

I’d also pack wiser. We were told to bring “warm clothes to wear under the offshore gear”. You might think that grown men and women would be able to pack appropriately, but I wasn’t the only one who missed the mark due to misguided optimism (Warm clothes? It’s still summer!). I even managed to leave behind the woollen socks I meant to pack, and consequently my toes were freezing cold for most of the trip in uninsulated wellies. Amateurish of me, it has to be said. It didn’t help, incidentally, that the aforementioned offshore gear was not 100% waterproof.

If I’d been in charge, I’d have allowed for better margins in the schedule (or a more flexible return time) to ensure that all participants a little more time at Orkney. Yes, I do realise that this would have added to the expense, but even so. We were perhaps especially unlucky with the wind, the captain, Bengt, tells me that because of a constant westerly wind we sailed 200 nautical miles more than we would have if we could have aimed straight for the target – almost 50 % further than the ideal course.

Despite all that, it was an amazing experience. I’ll probably still be rambling on about it when I’m ninety and my children have moved me to a nursing home. And I took pictures galore. Here’s another gallery, feel free to ignore it:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”5″ gal_title=”The Dark Expedition”]

And now for some commercial content. No, I’m not going to promote Highland Park, I assume the readers of this blog have the wherewithall to make up their own mind about the whisky. No, I thought I’d mention a couple of things regarding the good ship Celeste (sorry, boat, she may be big, but ship she ain’t). She sails to Scotland regularly, and you can join her! This summer (2015) she will sail Shetland – Fair Isle – Orkney, a two week trip which is bound to offer both sailing, nature and pub experiences. Next year you can choose to cross the North Sea or just stick to the coastal sailing with rather a lot of whisky on the program if you join The Single Malt Race, as that is divided into several stretches and you can join for one or more as you wish. I may mention that I’m rather tempted by the latter trip myself.

I’m almost done, the next post will be a bog standard tasting note, I promise. But first:

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Giveaway!

I grabbed the chance while on Orkney to do a little shopping in the Highland Park distillery shop. They had these magnificent little funnels that are gold when you do a bit of sample pouring (we already had one that I bought at Glen Ord back in the day, but I stocked up now). They also had these nice little notebooks for tasting notes. I’m a sucker for stationary. And glassware, naturally. Three sets are up for grabs.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to comment on this entry. Extra points rewarded for liking drikkelig.no on Facebook and for sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

I draw on the 22nd of January (and will of course post worldwide).

The book has the Highland Park logo impressed on the front.
The book has the Highland Park logo impressed on the front.
The format of the tasting note pages.
The format of the tasting note pages.

Disclaimer, just to make it clear: The trip was arranged and paid for by Highland Park (Edrington Group), except the return trip from Kirkwall which I paid for myself as mentioned. Writing about the trip or the whisky was never given as a condition. The prizes in the giveaway I paid for myself.

The Dark Expedition – Part 7

Part 6.

Friday evening there was a celebratory dinner with all the expedition members, both those just arrived on Celeste and those taking her back the morning. I retired as early as possible and collapsed into bed. I awoke at some point in the middle of the night with no idea where I was. The bed was swaying, but I was obviously not still on the boat. I met Martin at breakfast next morning and he said he’d found himself clinging to the wall in order to get to the toilet during the night, not trusting the floor to stay still, so I wasn’t the only one having problems with sea legs syndrome.

Now, what with all this talk of no sleep and longing for a stationary bed, you might think I’d have a leisurable morning? Bah. There was a whole island to discover (and anyway, with 8 hours of sleep I felt much, much better). The day before I’d asked Martin how far it was to Scapa, whether one could walk there? “No, it’s too far” was the answer. But we’d seen Scapa Bay from the Highland Park rooftops, so I didn’t trust that answer, and Google was on my side, so after a hearty breakfast I set out.

This seems promising.
This seems promising.

The weather was perfect for a ramble, and there was plenty to see along the way. It was also quite pleasurable to be able to really step out after spending the week on a boat that, no matter how big, didn’t really allow for walking much. It took me a little under an hour to reach Scapa Bay.

The other distillery
The other distillery

The easiest viewpoint from which to see Scapa, and take pictures, is from the bay, or even the water (though I had no boat, so I couldn’t verify that). Once there I obviously had to walk around to see what it looked like from the entrance side, but that had little to offer (as expected). I seem to have heard a rumour that there are plans afoot for a visitor centre at Scapa, so perhaps I will have more luck when I next make it to Orkney. (I can’t remember WHERE I heard the rumour, so don’t jump for joy just yet.)

Sorry no visitors.
Sorry no visitors.

Well, I had a plane to catch anyway, so I headed back to Kirkwall, choosing a different route, packed my bag and joined a couple of the others in a taxi to the airport.

In Aberdeen I found that there was a Kaffe Fasset exhibition on at the art museum, much joy. I stopped by Casc Bar and Brewdog (I will write specifically about them later), and on Sunday I flew back home. Thursday, almost a week after landfall at Kirkwall, I finally felt the fog of sleep deficiency lift. I think perhaps I should rethink this idea of becoming a sailor.

Some more pictures from my trek over to Scapa Bay:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”Kirkwall til Scapa Bay og tilbake igjen”]

Hindsight is 20/20.

The Dark Expedition – Part 6

Part 5: Highland Park.

After our visit to Highland Park we were loaded on to a coach and transported to Yesnaby, which is on the west coast of Orkney Mainland, south of Skara Brae. The area is first and foremost known for its spectacular cliffs in old red sandstone, and this was what we had come to see. Even with the short time available the organisers obviously wanted us to get a taste of what Orkney has to offer, and other than the whisky, nature is Orkney’s main tourist attraction. I guess you could consider the PR successful, since several of us came to the conclusion that we’d need to come back to Orkney and do a bit of hiking, for example along the Yesnaby Coastal Path. Well, see for yourselves:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”3″ gal_title=”Yesnaby, Orkenøyene”]

Part 7.

Highland Park (The Dark Expedition – Part 5)

Part 4.

We were shuttled to the distillery by the Highland Park minibus. Once there we were first treated to a short film showcasing the history of the distillery (I hazard a guess that this is part of the standard tour as well). We were then split into two groups, Martin showing one around, Patricia the other.

Waiting for the film to start.
Waiting for the film to start.

The tour started in the maltings, naturally. 15000 tonnes of barley are malted at the distillery each year, which is around 20% of the barley they use overall. The barley variety is Concerto, and it is all “imported”, that is from mainland Scotland, which adds to the expenses, obviously.

The malt must be turned.
The malt must be turned.

When the malt is carried from the malt floor to the kiln it has around 40% water content. It is then dried with peat for 22 hours, and then hot air until done. While the malt has 35-50 ppm after kilning, there is only about 2 ppm in the newmake.

Patricia explains kilning.
Patricia explains kilning.

Highland Park have 12 washbacks, some Oregon Pine, some Douglas Fir and some Siberian Larch. The wash is left to ferment for a minimum of 56 hours, and the resulting alchohol strength is 7-8% ABV. The wash is fruity, sweet, nutty and smokey.

Wash being extracted for our tasting pleasure.
Wash being extracted for our tasting pleasure.

2 wash stills produce a low wine of 25% ABV, 60% of the volume is lost in the process. “Smells like mushroom soup in the stillhouse”, according to Patricia. We had to take her words for it, because we were not allowed into the stillhouse (they were working in there, you know), we had to content ourselves with standing at the door looking in.

Ah, well. They cut from head to heart at 75% and again at 63%, which gives around 4500 liters of newmake from 30,000 liters of wash.

Lovely stills, all in a row.
Lovely stills, all in a row.

To make up for not getting into the stillhouse, we got to climb onto the roof and admire the view.

On top of the world!
On top of the world!

We also got to see the inside of the kiln, the floor where the malt is dried. And we got a peek into the kiln they had lit for our benefit (so we could see the fire and practice adding peat). It was empty, but the smell was rather lovely.

Get in here to be marinated in peat smoke.
Get in here to be marinated in peat smoke.

Then it was time to climb back down to the ground to enter the hallowed halls of the warehouses.

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The tour was naturally concluded with a tasting, led by Martin. He had selected two Viking-related bottlings; Leif Eriksson and Drakkar, followed by Dark Origins, the raison d’etre for the trip, and then we were treated to Highland Park 21 years old. Follow the links for tasting notes for the others, I’ve published notes for Dark Origins before, but on this occasion I noted sherry, burnt rubber, singed popcorn and orange peel on the nose, singed casks, dried fruits and vanilla on the palate. And I still like it.

Martin and the HP 21 years old.
Martin and the HP 21 years old

Contented (and exhausted, we had only arrived the same morning after all) we ended our tour with a visit to the distillery shop.

More pictures:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”2″ gal_title=”Highland Park”]

Part 6.

The Dark Expedition – Part 4

Part 3.

Kirkwall, 22 August 2014

We were welcomed by a boat carrying a filmcrew in the approach to Kirkwall and showed off some of our newly aquired skills, like furling the sails and climbing on to the boom. Some of this footage can be seen in the video I linked to earlier in The Dark Expedition – Preamble.

I sneaked a few pictures myself. Here: Masterly furling og the jib.
I sneaked a few pictures myself. Here: Masterly furling og the jib.

Once we were tied up to the quay Martin and Karl made two bottles of HP 18 and enough glasses to og around appear, and we toasted ourselves. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that a dram was more deserved, or tasted better.

Slainte, Kirkwall!
Slainte, Kirkwall!

Then it was time to say farewell to Celeste and check into the hotel, where most of us hit the showers. We had arranged to meet for lunsj, and I spent a few minutes prior to that booking flights home via Aberdeen and a hotel in Aberdeen since the flights didn’t really correspond (not that I mind an overnight stay in Aberdeen).

Sharing pictures during lunch at Skipper's.
Sharing pictures during lunch at Skipper’s.

Lunch was had at Skipper’s, an excellent plate of Fish & Chips for my part. After lunch we had a stroll around Kirkwall town centre before meeting the Highland Park minibus for shuttling to the disitillery.

Kirkwall Cathedral
Kirkwall Cathedral
Memento mori. The cathedral was teeming with these symbols, frequently in company with maritime images, a reminder of innumerable lives lost at sea.
Memento mori. The cathedral was teeming with these symbols, frequently in company with maritime images, a reminder of innumerable lives lost at sea.

Finally the time had come to see Highland Park. The distillery deserves its own entry, so: To be continued.

Part 5: Highland Park.

The Dark Expedition – Part 3

Part 2.

On board Celeste, with the Orkneys in sight, 22 August 2014

During the watch before ours (between six and nine pm Thursday, that is) the wind picked up sufficiently, so we could turn off the engine and hoist the sails. According to Åsa they had managed 10 knots, with the number 2 jib and the mainsail.

Thursday evening
Thursday evening

We held 7-8 knots for a long time (nine to midnigh watch), but we were headed straight into an area of clouds and once in it the wind went slightly mad and our speed varied between 3 and 7 knots. At some point it stayed at 3 for a long time, so we started the engine, but then the wind naturally picked up again, so we resigned ourselves to trying to make the most of it.

When we came off watch at midnight, the speed had settled at a steady 7-8 knots, so we were doing ok as far as concerns the schedule. I was nowhere ready to get out of my bunk when I was awakened at twenty to six (yet again it had taken me hours to fall asleep), but once on deck I could see it was a promising morning.

A promising morning
A promising morning

Suddenly, five or more dolphins were playing around the bow and I saw a puffin in flight (gotta love puffins! And dolphins!).

Dolphins!
Dolphins!

And before half an hour had passed we sighted land!

Land ohoi!
Land ohoi!

And suddenly sailing was again the best thing ever (but I’m still looking forward to sleeping in a normal bed).

The Dark Expedition – Part 2

Part 1.

On board Celeste, some place north-east of Scotland, south-east of Orkney, 21 August 2014.

The prognosis was for very little wind until we passed Lindesnes and then quite a lot of it because of a low pressure area over Skagerrak. We had passed one front on our way up from Gothenburg, but to reach the Orkneys we had to pass through the other side (Ill. 1 – amateurishly done by me).

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Ill. 1: The red is supposed to indicate the weather fronts around the low pressure area. We passed through from Gothenburg and entered the fairly calm middle, but to get to the Orkneys we would have to pass through again, and the front on that side was probably wider than the figure shows.

We were expected to hit the rough weather around midnight and that it would last for approximately 24 hours, with more wind and significantly taller waves than we’d had in Kattegat. But towards the end of our watch from 3 to 6 pm (Tuesday the 19th) the wind picked up and the waves turned choppy. Shortly after (I was just headed for bed, since we were going on watch again at midnight) Karin went round checking with each of us that we were ok with continuing – the forecast at this point was “rough for 48 hours”.

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(Relatively) calm before the storm

I said ok, as long as I don’t have to take the helm (I’d been at the helm earlier, while it was calm, but did not particularly want that responsibility in rougher conditions). A part of me wanted to say “I want my mummy, let me off at the nearest islet!”, but I’d signed up to sail, after all, and I assumed that the crew knew what they were about and what Celeste was capable of and weren’t about to risk the boat or their own lives. I suspect a couple of my shipmates also had an internal discussion, but everyone said to og ahead, so we continued on our course straight into the storm. I didn’t really sleep, what with the commotion and all, and when I clambered up on deck at midnight, both Bengt, Jens and Karin were there, taking turns at the helm. The rest of us wedged ourselves in the most comfortable positions we could. I think I must have nodded off now and again, for suddenly the watch was over and I could creep back to the bunk. Perhaps I should have stayed on deck, because now I found sleep escaped me, my back and hips were far from happy (the bunks were rather hard) and Celeste would crest the choppy waves and then land in the trough with a bang, with everything, including us, being thrown foreward.

Above deck there was action enough. At some point it was discovered that the IPIRB which was supposed to hang aft ready for use was missing. IPIRB stands for Individual Position Indicating Rescue Beacon and is activated when thrown (or lost) into the sea. The point is that it sends a distress signal if the boat is actually in trouble, but at the receiving end it’s obviously impossible to tell an accidentally lost IPIRB from a real distress signal. Attempts had been made to reach us via radio, but there had not been any response (since everyone who had any knowledge of the radio were busy on deck). I overheard Karin’s somewhat frantic call to someone on land that, no, we were fine, the boat was fine, we had just lost the transmitter. At that point a rescue operation was already in progress, a boat had left shore and a helicopter had been requested. To everyone’s relief, no doubt, the rescue operation could be called off and we continued our sailing into the wind, which showed no sign of lessening.

Sea spray
Sea spray

After our nine-to-twelve-watch on Wednesday the only real options were to stay on deck or lie on a bunk, so I did a bit of both. Celeste was leaning and bucking about too much for anything else.

By the time we came on watch again at six the wind had dropped and the waves, though still rather tall, were less choppy.

Calmer evening
Calmer evening
And a spectacular sunset, in its way.
And a spectacular sunset, in its way.

Our night watch, 3 to 6 am Thursday morning, was quite calm. The wind was still from the west, giving us a speed of between 5 to 7 knots and variously cloudy and clear, so we could se the stars (there are a lot of them when you’re in the middle of the sea, with little to no light pollution around). The waves that regularly submerged the rails were teeming with phosphorescence. Karin was at the helm for most of the watch, but asked if I could take over so she could have a break, and in these conditions I was fine with it, so I spelled her for a while.

Just before we went off watch we took the reef out of the mainsail with the help of Bengt’s watch who were on after us.

I went to bed and actually slept this time, from six to about eleven, and when I got up we had gone about and also started the engine again, because even with the reef out of the mainsail we were only doing 2 to 4 knots, and we’ve got a date in Kirkwall on Friday.

The North Sea is full of oil rigs. They look really cool at night, all lit up, but are easier to photograph in daylight.
The North Sea is full of oil rigs. They look really cool at night, all lit up, but are easier to photograph in daylight.

All of Thursday passed on a steady course towards Kirkwall with the engine going off and on depending on the strength of the wind. At some point we tried setting the gennaker (similar to a spinnaker, but uses the same mast as the jib), but by the time it was up the wind had dropped, so there was nothing to do but take it down again.

The gennaker
The gennaker

It’s now just gone half past six in the evening, and about an hour ago we hauled down the mainsail as it was not being filled (and then it slows the boat) and we’re running on engine at about 6 knots. I’m on watch again at nine and I don’t think I can be bothered to try to sleep before that. We’re heading for a calm night, but expecting more wind in the morning. It would be nice to arrive in Kirkwall with the sails up, bare masts look rather sad.

There is no chance of making landfall Thursday at this point, but we’re hoping to make the planned tour of Highland Park at two pm Friday. It helps that that is GMT while we’re still on CET, but it might still be a close call.

I can’t even begin to describe how nice it will be to sleep in a bed that is stationary and horisontal again.

Jens and Åsa in the galley, cooking supper.
Jens and Åsa in the galley, cooking supper.

Part 3.

The Dark Expedition – Part 1

Preamble.

On board Celeste, south of Arendal, 19th August 2014

The trip from Trondheim to Gothenburg via Oslo yesterday morning went without a hitch, apart from having to get up way too early at 4.30 am. Finding a taxi presented no problem, and the driver seemed to know where he was going until we got to the marina, when he missed Långedrag and ended up in the neighbouring marina at first. But the mistake was easily corrected and as soon as I got out of the taxi I met Åsa, who was also wearing the fetching expedition jacket, and to see Celeste of Solent (or Farr65r as she is also known) for the first time.

Celeste
Celeste

There were quite a few things to be done before we could set off. A photographer from the Swedish event agency was there to capture the whole thing, and several of us also made the best of the brief sunny spells. We also had a round of presentations and were briefed on the schedule and on the safety procedures on board. As I had expected alchohol is prohibited while we’re sailing. The event management had been a bit hazy on this and suggested that a dram or two would surely be poured, but I was not surprised to find they were wrong. We’re supposed to act as crew, after all, and have three hour watches (so six hours off between them). And the captain was adamant: No alchohol until we dock in Kirkwall.

One of the other participants – Jalle – organized anti-sea sickness patches for anyone who wanted one, so I now have one behind my right ear. I feel no sign of sea sickness yet, and am grateful for that.

We left Långedrag running the engine and set sail before we got out of the coastal archipelago (the number 4 jib and the mainsail, for those of you who are technically minded), and set a course northwest towards Norway, close hauled to the wind which was coming from the west.

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Hauling the mainsail

Celeste was soon at a good angle, and the speed varied between 7 and 10 knots.

We’ve been divided into three watches, with one person from Sjösport (Celeste’s owners) in charge of each watch; Bengt (the captain), Jens and Karin. In in Karin’s watch, with Jörgen (who has sailed quite a bit) and Jalle and Richard who are both less experienced than me (which is to say complete beginners, more or less). We had our first watch from nine pm to midnight last night, and Jalle got to start at the helm while there was still daylight, and there he remained, which I was quite happy with. I’m frankly a bit terrified at the angle of the boat, which feels like 45°, but is probably more like 30°, with moderate waves, but with a rather unsteady wind which had to be compensated for. Rationally I know that overturning is not actually very likely (like Karin said: The mast or sail will give way first), but my instincts (fed by a number of shipwrecks in fiction – blame Patrick O’Brian) would not listen to reason. Hopefully it’s partly habit and I’ll be fine with it after today’s two day watches (as tonight promises to be rough).

After the change of watch at midnight it was time to hit the sack, as we were going on watch again at six. I sort of slept, though hardly soundly (or continously). Down below it basically sounds like the boat is about to sink any moment. Well, hopefully that’s also something I’ll get used to. A Ragnhild with insufficient sleep is not a functioning entity.

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When I emerged on deck at six the next morning I had realised that the sea was calmer, but had failed to notice that we were running the engine. The sails are still being filled, but the wind has fallen to seven knots (compared with 20-30 yesterday). So today we head along the Norwegian coast towards Lindesnes.

Part 2.