Africa trips

Mozambique 2003 - Harold Churchill

Overlanding Trips

The next time we met is 125 kilometers further on at a village called Quissico.
We spot the group at a broken down service station and turn in.
Bad news, the Landrover will not start. Struan, lips tight with anger, is on his cell phone to the garage that sold him the Landrover who in turn gives Struan the name of a Landrover technician in Nelspruit. Although a diesel engine the problem appears to be electrical and linked to the immobiliser system. The technician suggests that the driver’s seat be removed and check fuses and relays fitted under the seat. He feels that the wet conditions could have something to do with the problem. However Struan has no spanners, or any other tools with him. Just as well I have a toolbox together with a can of water repellent spray, but the Landrover refuses to start. Then Struan gets directions as to how to reprogram the alarm system. No joy – “the Landrover she is going nowhere”.

Meanwhile Libby has produced a cold chicken, which the rest of the group, who have had nothing to eat all day, rip to shreds and devour like a pack of wolves. A packet of rusks suffers the same fate. Meanwhile the rain pours down and driven almost horizontally in the ferocious wind and most of us are wet through.

Finally it is decided that the others will carry onto Paindane and I will stay with Struan, and if he cannot get the Landy started within a short while then I’d tow him to Inhambane. Grant takes over the boat Struan was pulling and they leave.

As we still had 132 kilometres to go Inhambane, which would take close on two hours, we decide to proceed with the tow so as to get there before dark. Before we left I had said to Struan, “Remember the secret of a smooth tow is that I am the engine and you are the brake. On a downhill you change to 4th gear so that I have to pull else you could catch up to me. On an uphill you go to neutral. If we are too slow down I’ll signal and you do the slowing and braking. I should not have to touch my brakes – that is your job.”
So with Landrover in tow we set off. I must say Struan learnt fast and proved to be the best I have ever had to tow.

We had gone about 20 kilometres when I see the rest of the group in the two Toyotas parked off the road. What now??
Disaster! The trailer carrying the large boat had a blow out and they cannot get their bottle jack underneath the trailer chassis to jack it up with. They also do not have a spanner to fit the trailer wheel nuts. In fact they had sweet bugger all.

Off comes my hi-lift jack, out come my spanners and the job is in progress.
But wait a moment – something is not right, in fact something is very wrong.

The axle of the boat trailer had moved sideways resulting in the tyre rubbing against the trailer chassis, - hence the blowout. I remain convinced that speed and potholes was a contributory factor to the problem.

To remedy the matter we now had to remove the boat from the trailer and then try to move the axle. It is still pouring with rain and it is beginning to get dark.
Anybody have a torch? Oops, sorry no! Lucky I have a decent torch.

At last we get the boat off and manage to reposition the axle and in the process they loose two of the U-bolt nuts. Lucky I have a few spare lock nuts in my toolbox that fit. Repairs made we now have to get the boat back onto the trailer. After much swearing and cursing, pushing and shoving the boat is firmly back in place and secured.

I left first with the Landrover in tow and the rest follow timidly behind.
It is pitch dark and the rain is coming down in buckets. It was nerve wracking and the road seemed to be endless. Visibility was poor and I had a Landrover with ‘giant slaying bull-bar’ not three-and-a-half meters off my tail. If I suddenly had to hit the brakes, for whatever reason, there is no way that Struan could stop in time. For him it must have been a nightmare. With my canopy, rack and roof top tent he could not see past me. He had limited vision by driving off centre and trying to see past my right hand side. As hand signals were now out I had told him I’d signal him to slow by activating my hazard lights. To make matters worse his windscreen wipers did not work, at times he must have thought he was a submarine especially when I hit a deep pool of water.

A few kilometres before Inhambane the others turn off to Paindane and we proceed onto the town. So for all their speed during the day compared to my sluggish ‘ol Hi-Lux we arrive at Inhambane with me in first place. Admittedly the Landrover was a close second, about 3,5 meters behind, on the end of a towrope!!!

“Wat se mens?” “Skilpad wen weer!” (Tortoise wins again)

We passed a noisy disco and stop to ask for directions to the ‘Backpackers lodge’. One of the blacks at the bar can speak English and he explains to us how to get there. Fortunately it was in the same road about a kilometre further on. The lady that runs the establishment takes us through the lounge up some stairs to show us our rooms. In the lounge were a few young girls and two guys. Now Struan and Clive are big men who stand head and shoulders above a crowd. I’m not exactly small myself but a midget compared to Struan and Clive. As we walk through the lounge I hear the one girl say in awe, “My god – they’re huge.” On hearing this I fluff out my chest and try to look as big and as fierce as possible. I don’t think they even noticed me.

By this time we are famished and we set about making supper in a small kitchenette out the back of the building. Again from the magical interior of my canopy we produce a tin of ham, a packet of pasta, a packet of ‘Mushroom a la crème’ sauce, a tin of peas, a packet of olives and all the necessary condiments. We also have cold beer in my Engel, whisky and a bottle of red wine – suddenly, in spite of the rain, life looks a lot better.



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