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Already in Egypt!

April 24, 2013

Another tough drive day with lots of hills and in spite of an early start we still only got to our hotel at past midnight.

Arriving at the Ethiopian side we found the customs officials had all just headed off to a nice long lunch!!! So a one and a half hour long wait in searing heat was not what we had planned, but could do nothing to change matters. Then on the Sudanese side the customs official was very confused by our Carnet dui Passage and this delayed us yet another hour!

Well we knew we had no time to waste as we had to get to Khartoum early on Sunday morning to try to get our passage from Wadi Halfa to Aswan organised as our original booking had been well and truly scuppered buy the Kenyan floods.

Geoff had complained a few times on the previous day that he was battling to get First gear. We paid little attention to this as our gear selector is a bit floppy at best and we have had no reverse since leaving Joburg! But on arriving at one of the numerous police checkpoints I realised we had a problem and it had nothing to do with Houston!!! I slowed for the police check point and brought the car to second gear and with full clutch I felt the car still running forward, so I quickly cut the power and beamed a wide smile at the cop and effused a warm greeting to him in Arabic. “Is this the correct road to Khartoum”, I asked him. Well this did get me through but we realised that driving into a busy capital city would not be possible with a gammy clutch. So we pulled off the road to a petrol station and tried to resolve the gear selection hassle and all the time getting expert technical info and guidance from Imp[ Club Roy mc Bride in Cape Town – thanks Roy –

We bled the clutch, still no go, in fact it was now worse!!! Removed the slave cylinder, checked it out, all fine here. Panic had already set in. being stuck out here 220 kilos from Khartoum in scorching temperatures with no contacts we would have been in the soup big time. So we decided there was only one option, crash the gears and hope the box holds together until we get to Khartoum.

This two hundred odd kilos were immense, the stress pressure, the nerves and the deep deep concern of getting stuck where we would have been helpless was almost unbearable. Well someone out there is praying for us because we pulled it off and by the way we realised about half way to Khartoum that in fact it was not a hydraulic problem but a clutch assembly problem.

Arriving at the campsite of the Khartoum Blue Nile Sailing Club Geoff immediately spotted a massive tree giving great shade. “That’s where we will set up the workshop” were his first words when we arrived. So within minutes we had set out our mobile workshop, ripped out the engine and discovered a thrust bearing held in place by one spring – the other one awol – a pressure plate with one finger broken off and the centre pressure ring broken from the fingers and dangling completely loose.

 Well as good fortune has been shining down on us from the commencement of our journey we happened to have had a complete clutch and pressure plate as spare. We even had a few thrust bearings, and guess what??? We had no springs to hold the release bearing n place. .

I proceeded to catch a ride to the industrial side of Khartoum to try to source one of these springs and at the same time Geoff actually manufactured one out of a piece of bull wire he found lying around. Well since managed to find the correct one we kept Geoff’s McGyver one as a spare.

Ok Geoff, it’s up on the trestles, run it through the gears to see if all is ok! Well ok it was NOT! The driver’s side doughnut was in six pieces! How we ever had driven with this was a mystery, again someone was praying for us! So now we tackled replacing the bust doughnut.

So instead of getting out paperwork sorted out for the ferry from Wadi to Aswan we had spent the entire afternoon and early evening mechanicking! A very welcome cold shower and a fresh set of clothes we congratulated ourselves on our achievement and started to cook dinner. Dinner however was very quickly put on the back burner when we realised that neither of us had properly tightened the bolts holding the pressure plate to the flywheel.

Engine out again and cancel dinner, anyway we hadn’t had breakfast or lunch either so what the hell!

So it was after midnight when we completed the repair and had new showers and prepped and eaten dinner. With a 07h00 start next morning we both collapsed on to our sleeping bags and passed out!

Monday morning and a visit to our fixer in his Khartoum office to set our ferry crossing from Wadi Halfa to Aswan in Egypt. Then a 982 kilometre haul to Wadi Halfa which took us until 01h30. What helped us here were the near perfect roads.

So having met our Wadi Halfa fixer we went to his house for a few hours kip and at 07h00 Tuesday morning we went about getting the Imp onto a barge so it could be taken to Aswan in time for our arrival in the event that we would be able to get on to the afternoon passenger ferry. This was not certain as we had no tickets and the ferry for this week and the coming week was overbooked! Firstly we managed after a few dramas to get the Imp on board a barge to Aswan and off it went. Now the rest of the day we spent cooped up in the ferry ticket office in the village waiting, hoping, praying that our fixer would be able to fix our tickets. He came through in the ;eleventh hour and we then had to jump through a series of admin hoops and finally we were last to board the ferry where they pulled up the gangplank in our wake and we then tried to find a spot for us to stretch out our sleeping bags for our night’s sleep. As we were the last to arrive on board a ship that was generously overbooked this task was of course impossible but as we were on the road of miracles we found a group of fellow tourists and we manipulated a space for us to bed down for the journey.

An eventful but nonetheless easy trip culminated in a very interesting finale. About thirty minutes out of port I said to Geoff, ‘hey, that looks like the barge that carried my Imp yesterday” and as I said it I realised what a fool I must have sounded like as the chances of this happening that a barge that departed a full eight hours before the ferry would never be crossing paths with our ferry at this time. Well Geoff humoured me in any event and said that there was in fact something on the barge that could have been a car so I took the field glasses and had a closer look. Well another miracle, the barge was the very same one and the Imp was sitting happily on board.

What happened then surprised us; the barge first crossed in front of the ferry as if to interfere with its progress, then it came right alongside the ferry but the ferry was carrying a bit more speed and soon the barge had fallen behind. This changed again as the ferry slowed to dock; the barge in fact did exactly that, it barged inside the mooring ferry and stole a spot next to the quay so as to deposit the imp. In doing so the captain actually bashed the front of his barge into the quay wall, but in a few minutes the ropes were out and the Imp fired into life and bounced over the rails on board and scampered up the quayside. This we were to find out later saved us at least four days delay as the car would not have been cleared if it had to wait for the ferry passengers to be dealt with and the next few days in Egypt are public holidays. Wow yet another miracle.

 

So tonight we are in a nice hotel in Aswan with our little Imp patiently waiting for us to carry on the journey to London tomorrow.  

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