Thursday, May 26, 2011

And so the voyage started!

And so the voyage started. Hans left Belfast for Cape Town, while we were still fixing, wiring, assembling things. Then, by 10 pm on the 17th of May we were ready, packed, tired. I did not sleep well, and at six we were up. Having assured the dogs that they would be cared for, we drove out to the primary school to vote in the municipal elections, and by eight we had done our civic duty, and we hit the road.

A first stop in Meyerton to have coffee with my daughter and her fiancee brought a first surprise: A nasty clang from under the car as we reversed out of their driveway. One of the front shock absorbers seemed to have almost no rubber in the mounting, but at the back all seemed to be as it should.

Lawrence proposed the assistance of mechanics all the way to Bloemfontein, but we were reluctant to start the trip like that, and to bother people on a holiday. Fortunately the smooth road provided no repetition of the noise, and we breezed into Colesberg, tired, by sunset, having dodged around the road works with some advice from Hans.

However, leaving the parking lot of the Plattelander restaurant produced the same noise, and I spent the night dreaming of hunting through the streets of Colesberg for someone to fix shock absorbers, broken axles, cracked chassis, and what not!

Day two of our voyage started early. At 05h30 I was crawling under the car, trying to spot something wrong in the feeble light of the head torch. Nothing, even the shock absorber seemed solid. So we headed out again. A splendid sunrise over the Karoo greeted us, and by early afternoon we started looking for the Malherbe residence at Wonderfontein.

At that stage we were still trying to do something to get the Swarts' visas issued, while Stephanus had heard that theirs were OK. We had also heard that we did not need to put the car into the container the next morning, but that we had time till Monday.

We spent a pleasant time with Lizette in Fish hoek (

This gave us a base while doing what had to be done in the Cape.

On Friday 20 May I was able to get to Stikland in Bellville to have Johan Tyre look at the shock absorbers, and he not only condemned them out of hand, showing me that two were leaking oil, but also pointed out two other problems: The guys in Pretoria had mounted the air helper springs so that the exhaust touched the bracket, and the front spring bushes were badly worn. Now, may I wonder why the guy I asked to look the car over before the trip had not noticed this?

The day passed in waiting for parts, having the wrong parts delivered, and waiting again, but by late afternoon I headed back to Vishoek with a more solid, stable vehicle.

Monday morning we navigated into Cape Town centre, and soon after, sucking the fumes out of the tank, the Cruiser joined the other two vehicles at the Container Depot. The first leg is over, now we wait, do paperwork, and plan, until 15 June, when we leave for Doha and Casablanca!

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