And now long trick is finally over

Day 83 Scoresby Sund Expedition

Rotherhithe, London

Collecting Tilman from the Dog Sitters

Last Thursday we collected our Parson Russell Terrier from the Dog Sitters. My fear that Tilman would no longer recognise me was soon dispelled! It was so nice to see him again. I now can officially declare the failed Scoresby Sund Expedition is over.

Our Tilman awaits his ball to be thrown
The other Tilman maybe awaits for a ball to be thrown?

It is the first time I have failed to get to my planned destination so I have been pondering why I didn’t achieve the clear objective. It was definitely a bad summer, with the local Icelanders saying it was the worst summer in living memory. The news programs were warning hikers not to venture out due to low temperatures, high wind and heavy rainfall. Maybe climate change is taking its toll, and what was once possible in little boats will become increasingly more dangerous. So maybe it was just bad luck that I chose this year.

Roald Amundsen

Victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck some people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” Roald Amundsen.

I feel that I had planned the trip pretty well and taken as many precautions as necessary. So I don’t think I can blame myself for a lack of planning. However, I think it is a great quote and often so true.

Fridtof Nansen

“Never stop because you are afraid – you are never so likely to be wrong. Never keep a line of retreat: it is a wretched invention. The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.” Fridtjof Nansen

Perhaps I am losing my nerve and just lacked the courage to push on against all the odds. No doubt we would have survived with tales to tell of daring-do. Maybe you tend to grow more sensible as you grow older. Thinking back on some of my old voyages, I wonder whether I would dare plan such voyages today:

Sailing direct non-stop from Rotherhithe on the Thames to Reine in the Lofoten Islands – over 1,000 nautical miles up the North Sea, single handed across the Atlantic, non-stop from Spitsbergen to the Faroes – over 1,000 nautical miles and more recently Faroes to Jan Mayen – over 500 nautical miles, to name just a few.

Apart from the actual weather there is another thing that has recently changed – that is the weather forecasting. Gone are the days when the midnight shipping forecast was adequate to head of across the Biscay with no more data until you arrived in La Coruna beaten up by a passing storm.

Gone are the days of slightly unreliable black and white grib files providing wind predictions for a few days ahead.

The old grib files

Now everything is in glorious Techni-colour including “Certain-Death-Purple”, and “Journey-from-Hell-Orange”.

A random Windy screenshot

And don’t worry if you can’t find any “Certain-Death-Purple”, just scroll along a few days and its sure to turn up. The morning routine whilst we were moored in Husavik was to fire up the Eberspacher heater and put on a big pot of coffee whilst still snugged up in our sleeping bags. We might be feeling cheerful because the wind had eased slightly and we were hoping to set sail in a day or two. Then you search for your mobile phone to check the dreaded “Windy” app. At this point you exclaim out loud “Oh No!” or normally worse utterances, when you realise that the weather break you were hoping for in a couple of days has morphed from “Pleasant-Fast-Sail-Green” to “Certain-Death-Purple”. And so it goes on, until you eventually give up and go home.

I just wonder whether without this technology we would have simply set off once the wind had eased and made it to the destination, perhaps and bit shaken up, but still alive and ready to tell the tale.

Will I try again? I promised myself never again when we were hunkered up in those Northern Icelandic harbours but now I wonder. Perhaps with a single very experienced crew member egging me on and willing to go the whole way, and back, I might give it another bash.

Right now, I need to walk that dog.

2 responses to “And now long trick is finally over”

  1. I would definitely not call it a failure, Alasdair.
    Sailing is not going from A to B, for that we have planes, ferries and other stuff…
    And what would have been the point to arrive there and then head back immediately, planting a flag?
    Or worse, being stuck there forever…
    I really think we should not announce our destination, when setting sail.
    Perhaps not even have one.
    You, your crew and your boat went far, physically and even more mentally, and came back unharmed. That means stronger, not weaker, and I would call it a success. Or perhaps not call it at all.
    I am looking forward to seeing you at the Butt & Oyster…!

    1. Thanks Matteo, Indeed one of my best holidays on Sumara had no objective, we just went where the wind took us. It was very relaxing! That was pre-Brexit of course, now things are a bit more complex. As for the Butt and Oyster, I seem to be pretty busy until 6th November, but any weekend after that would be great and the meal is on me!

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