Cabinda delivers the best equatorial storm yet.....

"Into Africa" More than a Motorcycle Adventure
Howard Fairbank
Tue 4 Mar 2014 12:40

05:33.511S 12:11.145E


2 March, 2014 


Well, as expected it was another big adventure…..!!


We left Soyo, at 19h45, in the last light, and arrived on Cabinda ‘beach’ at 09h45 the next day.

       Picture of the new LNG Plant, flaring as we left Soyo


So much for the three hours….. We did have engine problems, and then also a 3 hour wait at departing emigration, on one of the last islands before the sea, but the truth is the boat wasn’t fast, and it was a slog! I managed to sleep in the bilge, next to my bike, and was very surprised that we didn’t have any rain in the night. I woke quite a few times, and sat on the gunwale really enjoying being out at sea again…Just a pity there was the sound of the engine, and not a drone type engine sound: The propeller wasn’t deep enough in the water, so each time the swell lifted it further out the guy steering had to gut back the revs, then as soon as it was back deep, he wound the revs back to maximum. I looked at the Yamaha 40 engine, and thought, these are one helluva tough engines, to put up with this every day….



The break of day, and sunrise at sea is always special for me, and this trip had its own unique specialness. While not many words were exchanged along the way, I did feel a bond develop between me and the two watch captains, as they shared duties. I sensed we all knew we were at sea, at one with it, and in its horizon less enormity there was a strange mix of vulnerability, and yet peace.



I have become used to the presence of VERY threatening dark clouds around, These are very unique clouds, I have seen threatening clouds, but these equatorial ones, are something else… The nice thing is, that they are often very focused, localised as they  move across the terrain, and one can often see it pouring with rain 500 metres off, but where I am is spared. It’s a game of luck, but the sight of the clouds, and the size of them, would seem to mean the odds are stacked against one. I’m not sure why, but I beat the odds, on this sea trip, with many sights like the one below, yet we were never rained on…..



It’s hard to continue winning when the odds are so poor, and on arrival in Cabinda, I was given the lesson:



The picture above was taken about half an hour before the heaven broke loose, and the roads to the port became a series of torrent flowing rivers, turning the whole place into a flooded mud patch. I was ‘fortunate’ that the Immigration people had ‘caught’ me and I had to wait for document photocopies etc… They were very friendly and allowed me to shelter in their corrugated iron roof shack. This a lifesaver, as the rain paltered down, like I’d only one other time seen before: Lake Victoria, and almost the same latitude!


All boat work was forced to stop, and we just stood imprisoned for an hour. Impatient to get their boat empty of its load, when the rain eased a bit, the guys started off loading my bike, onto the beach. I was forced out of my shelter to assist in the process. Paying them their fee, I then proceeded to fit the panniers, when the torrential rain returned again…. No time to cry, I just continued on, loading up the bike, getting and to the absolute amazement of the locals, I said goodbye and headed up one of the teeming ‘rivers’ into oblivion, and hopefully to find a place to stay…. The road was horrendous, and being unsealed it was unpredictable underneath the river surface, catching me off guard a few times, and once I very nearly dropped the bike. As I hit the tar road, things were only better in that the underwater surface was more predictable, but the water level in the town was much worse. Cars were brought to a standstill, roads closed off, not with barriers, just with the flow of water coming down from higher areas.


Well, like often happens, I accepted my situation, and decided I would just ride around until I found ‘the right’ place rather than succumb to paying a huge price, for the first place I find, just because I’m struggling! I rode around for at least an hour, the only place I saw, was what looked like an upmarket one, and hmmmm, I did nearly weaken, but no! There was a town carnival on for the day, so part of the centre roads were barricaded off, and hundreds of youngsters were parading on the streets, not letting the floods affecting them, in fact seeming to revel in the special offering. I received lots of stares as I defied the barriers, sometimes going down down one way streets the wrong way, but I sensed the police who saw this all happen knew, I was in survival mode. Their town was not working the way it should either…


Finally, with my eagle eye engaged, I saw a tiny hospedario sign out the side of my helmut visor, and I was elated. It pointed to a ‘road’ off to the left, and said 80m! Gee, this road was literally a river, and when not flooded was deep mud…. Only 80 metres, I can do that…. Well it was probably 150 metres, but I made it, and was soon a fully ‘registered’ guest, the only one, and taking a shower, with next stop some food and a well deserve beer!


The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading….. I bought the Economist views of the World to 2050! Nice to be snug, reading something thoughtful, and listening to the rain still pouring down outside!


Tomorrow, I enter Congo, and ordeals are every day part of adventures, I’m sure there will be one, just not sure what it will be…!  


Basilio enjoying our First and Last supper at the Portuguese owned resort. He will be in London in May, and we have committed to another meal together!