Been another Epic day. We left JHB @ 4:30am and we are now 90km from home having travelled 1500km at an average max speed of 90km/hour!
Both feeling a bit jaded to say the least but super excited to see our families 😀
Total distance covered by boat and road +- 10000km. Many stories to be told so we plan to meet up at The Harbor Rock Restaurant tomorrow for sushi and a debrief session with our wives to compare notes and drink wine.
At the moment we can only focus on getting home in one piece under the amazing power of our Toyota Landcruiser with Flash Dancer following obediently behind us 😜
We are in Jo’burg having dropped Ian off in Lusaka. He is already back in the UK, apparently.
We overnighted at Elephant Sands Tuesday night, 50km north of Nata in Bots. No problems crossing the Zambezi into Bots other than being fleeced by the Zambian agents, as usual.
Elephants and warthogs are wandering free around the Bots border post and the drive to Elephant Sands was in the dark so driving care was needed to avoid kudu and elephant night crossings. Mat was intrigued there was so much wildlife around – giraffe and buck as well as elephant. Elephant Hill is built around around a watering hole so more elephants over dinner.
Our 4:30 start Wednesday began well until a pre-dawn puncture. A bit hectic changing wheels on a narrow steep shoulder with big trucks roaring past. Then I got a speeding fine – with this slow rig!
Crossing into SA was straight-forward then to Mat’s brother Graham and Marilyn in Jo’burg. Arriving in SA is obvious with organised farms and infrastructure, however Potgietersrus, now Mokopane, is a worse shambles than the worst of the Zambian settlements.
It is 4:20 Thursday now and we are about to head south… and home!
We were in Mpulungu last night.
We got in, under motor, from Oscar’s place near Kasanga after a day of very heavy wind, a hike up to the Kalambo Falls – worth the while.
Then slack wind and loading FD onto her trailer pretty much in the dark. Big steak for a meal with beers and asleep by 8pm. Up early this morning to wait for immigration to clear into Zambia then a 800km drive up to the escarpment and south towards Lusaka.
Currently at Forest Inn, about 270km north of Lusaka.
Tomorrow plan to leave before sparrows, drop Ian off in Lusaka and make for the Bots border
The wind’s up here unfortunately. Mat and I have just come back from snorkelling. We head south into the weather in 3,5 hours.
Snorkelling is good if you like watching tiny fish called cichlids. The water is clear, apparently because the fish eat all the algae and so the rocks are bare and uninteresting – to my mind.
We’re waiting for the wind to die down which it usually does in the late afternoon – but not always.
If it doesn’t we can look forward to bashing and crashing until nightfall to reach a sheltered little cove we used on the way up. Four days ago Ian was as seasick as a dog and I was gagging. Mat got headaches and dizziness from the petrol fumes. It is very testing. I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when we reach Mpulungu.
We need to clear Tz immigration at Kasanga in 2 or 3 days and will spend a day there hiking to Kalambo Falls – the second highest in Africa.
We want to be in Mpulungu on Tuesday to enter Zambia to pull out and trailer FD.
The long haul home should start Wednesday starting with an 800m vertical road out of the lake to the escarpment and head south for SA.
The plan is Lusaka on Thursday to drop off Ian, cross the Zambezi and enter Bots on Friday. Overnight at Mat’s brother’s place Saturday then two days to drive to Hermanus, arrive Monday.
Great plan – but looking out onto the lake now, the wind is pumping.
We are back in Lakeshore Lodge (this is Thursday at 2.47pm) heading south to the vehicle at Mpulungu and home. Can’t wait!
We sailed as far north as Mahale National Park to see the chimps, which was interesting as expected. Not quite gorilla watching, but close.
Two days heavy sailing to get up. Good southerly winds and broiling seas. Twelve and 18-hour days.
Had two nights in the park and we left 3am yesterday to motor back against wind and seas. What a mission.
We anchored at Sibwesa in the lee to wait for the midday wind to subside. An arrogant young official came down to the beach and demanded we come ashore to explain our presence.
We ignored him, but when his army mate with an AK47 said, “Come here!” I rowed over.
For the first time I was subjected to open hostility so I reacted by giving them a dressing down about being rude to tourists flying Mr Mandela’s flag. It was toe to toe for a while with the beach filling with onlookers. They didn’t back off exactly but we made friends, sort of.
While they were thumbing through our passports I found out the army chap”s name was Frank, which I disbelieved, though he said his mother calls him that – and he likes wearing a blue Chelsea Football Club beanie but doesn’t know much about the British football league and his weapon is over 30 years old and looks it.
I said they should pull up my dinghy which one did with surliness while I grinned. A couple of bits of rubbish.
We weighed anchor at 3pm as the wind slackened and motored around the point into the lake proper with a gentle breeze and manageable waves.
As darkness came the wind piled up on the nose and the water became a washing machine with short steep and high chop. FD was pounded and hammered all night with us trapped inside. We rotated the helm every two hours because it was so tiring holding her on course and navigating by the stars while being tossed around. We were the only vessel on the water, that we know of.
Wherever we go, people gawk at us, never having seen such a boat before. The locals are experienced boatmen, either paddling their mokoros, motoring their long narrow fishing boats or sailing their funny dhow type skiffs with the lateen sail of stitched-together plastic sacks. All very rustic and colourful and they can be found 20km off shore.
We anchored finally at Lakeshore at 9am this morning. Thirty one hours on the go with no sleep, a few Provitas and bladders that could not be emptied because the rolling means one can’t brace oneself sufficiently to open the sphincter – a painful situation.
But now all is well and fine. Chris and Louise gave us a rousing welcome. I’ve had a large breakfast, a shower and am working on a beer.
We are working on our return logistics: the balance of the upwind crawl back to Mpulungu, the long drive to Hermanus and Ian’s flight details.
Mathew and I should be home by 19 or 20 July if nothing breaks.
We have been on Lake Tanganyika for three days now and experienced no sailing wind of any significant strength thus far having to use the motor most of the time to chug north!
First night onboard was a bit hair-raising as the wind picked up unexpectedly and pushed us towards land and into local fishermen’s boats which wasn’t very pleasant. We frantically had to tie our boat to theirs to avoid being washed ashore!
After surviving the night wind, we left harbour early in the early hours and provided much unintended entertainment to locals as we had left our untethered dingy in the little harbour and had to return to retrieve it. Embarrassingly, in the process we got very tangled up in their ropes again. What a comedy of errors and quite hilarious for the locals and, later, to us too!
Next two days were less frantic and we had more pleasant evenings. On Day 2, we were preparing for a relaxed night stopover in a little bay until we were halted by Tanzanian military police demanding that we produce our passports.
It got rather tense as a young soldier called Nelson came aboard to inspect our boat looking for drugs and weapons. Fortunately, the intrusion ended quite civilly and peacefully with them recommending an alternative overnight stop for us. We ended up in a delightful and peaceful little fishing village harbour.
Day 3 was another motor slog north and a determination this time to start earlier to seek an overnight stop which we achieved in a remote bay behind a bluff. We anchored easily but then Richmond took an unplanned plunge into lake first to grab his cell phone then another dive after his glasses!
The incident naturally provided considerable amusement for Mat and Ian. They joined him for a swim. Refreshed, we drank our last two Mozi beers, had an early pasta and tuna meal followed by a good calm night’s sleep.
Up early, we motored (again) to Lake Shore Lodge owned by a charming and highly motivated young couple Chris & Louise (RM note: Chris & Louise Horsfall – Brian & Eva James daughter) whose resort is everything paradise and tropical and super!
All is good right now… we are relaxed and enjoying seeing guests on jetskis and fishing in paradise. Ian is taking plenty of photos. We cannot send them now because we’re on mobile data, no wifi here.
We have all showered, eaten great food and are hoping to set sail (vs motor) in the morning to the chimpanzees at Mahale Reserve approximately 200km further north. We expect to take three days to get there. That must be our turnaround point to get back to the vehicle in time for Ian’s flight from Nairobi.
Mpululngu, 14.30 Wednesday
FD is in the water at last. No petrol here for the outboard so had to drive 100km to Mbala for it.
We should leave under sail by 5pm. Hot and dusty and no one really does anything, but there are lots of males lying around and women working.
We’ll be home 21 July. Maybe 20th.
The vehicle is now staying in Mpulungu so we have to sail both ways; north and south so we won’t save time overall by not going to Mwanza.
Delayed receipt of news…
Robbie and Di have just arrived at Hakuna Matata.
Mat and I picked up Ian on time and drove five and a half hours to be here by 4.30 R and D just arrived at 6.30.
Willie and Meggie greeted us on arrival. When I climbed out of the Cruiser he said, “ I remember you. You’re Rich MacIntyre. You’re the sailors. I didn’t think you would come back after last year. You’re the one with guts.”
The fire is now started and the meal is being prepared.
Lilongwe to Hakuna Matata and then to Karonga to get Flash Dancer
We got up early to head to where the boat is stored in Karonga at the Carlsberg Coke depot. We immediately set to work deck scrubbing it and meticulously unpacked every item – after a long busy day we eventually left the depot, boat proudly in tow.
We are sitting in a bar having a beer together and planning our trip tomorrow to Lake Tanganyika. Destination Mpulungu about 400km. Feeling happy that we are still on schedule. Long hard day today, but very productive. We are loaded to leave for Lake Tanganyika at 5am tomorrow.
We have been having trouble with the starter motor which wouldn’t disengage and Avis contacted the Auto Electrician who had serviced the Beast for a prognosis. It was long and involved – but instead, this is what we did –
We hit the solenoid with a hammer and problem sorted! The bigger the problem the bigger the hammer…We met up with two RSA bikers travelling to Mozambique – they helped us sort out our starter motor problem.
All are happy and well.
I’ve decided to bring Flashdancer back this trip. Lake Victoria I’ll do by chartering someone else’s yacht – this long-haul and long-distance-logistics is maddening.
No word from the guys since they got to Lilongwe on their way to pick up Ian.
It’s likely they have no access to data or wifi.