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:


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 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.

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