Shawnee Wreck +20km to Eduard Bohlen Wreck +36km
Location: 24.29543 S, 14.53756 E
Camping about 200m from the beach, it was a cold, misty morning; our tents were totally soaked (as they are most nights when close to the beach) due to the atmosphere. A huge wave surged and foamy sea water ran through our camp, flooding Elago and John’s tents. Kas and I were fortunate as our wind barrier fence directed water away from our tents.
The sun doesn’t rise until after 7.40am now, so we take the opportunity for a little more sleep rather than try to do everything in the dark and while there is a high tide. I set off at around 8.40am.
After about 8km I reached Conception Bay – away from the shore were old ghostly fishing huts and an old diamond mining settlement. The productive waters filled with kelp were home to all sorts of bird life, frolicking dolphins and even a whale was spotted by the team.
I had a strong headwind all day and the beach in the morning was soft. After 20km we came to what is perhaps the most well-known wreck, the Eduard Bohlen, a huge cargo ship that ran aground in about 1908. The ship, now an imposing sculpture of rusting iron, sits about 500m from shore, such has the coastal plain increased in size over the last century. Has and I spent an hour recording our experiences.
The afternoon session was a very slow affair. As the tide came in, I was forced to cycle on soft sand and the headwind strengthened. We had a problem finding a suitable spot to camp. Sea water at high tide was occasionally spilling over the embankment and running over the plain into a vast soft clay pan. There was only a narrow strip of land to camp on as the vehicles could not go onto the pan. Remembering the events of the previous night, the guys wanted to travel 30km to the end of the pan, but it was early evening and I was spent. They suggested I put my bike on one of the vehicles and drive there, but I cannot miss a kilometre of the journey if I am to cycle the entire way from the Kunene to the Orange river mouths. After much discussion, we agreed to camp on the narrow strip of land knowing that high tide the next day would be at 6.50am – no chance of rogue waves before that.
Eduard Bohlen +36km to Namab tented accommodation
Distance – 55km
Total distance – 1029km
Staying where I finished cycling yesterday turned out to be the right decision – there were no issues with waves surging over the embankment and through our camp.
Today brought perhaps the best weather conditions I have had on this journey. The morning was calm and at 9.10am I felt the warmth of a land breeze. It seemed to keep the nagging south westerly headwinds away. Low tide was at 2pm today, so I was able to enjoy long stints riding along the beach.
After 26km I arrived at Moeb Bay, an old diamond mining settlement. There was even a short railway line (about 70m) to get the goods to the beach for loading on to small boats bound for Walvis Bay. The railway tracks have totally disintegrated to dust, along with most of the railway carts and machinery. There was a replica wooden row boat that would have been used to transfer people and materials to larger ships.
Leaving Moeb Bay, I pedalled past a huge graveyard of whale bones, scattered adjacent to the beach, about 1.5km long. Riding back on the beach, I came across large flocks of cormorants.
This afternoon we were met by Simon, our new specialist guide (from Walvis Bay) to get us from here to Luderitz. Elago will stay with us, but John will return to Swakopmund tomorrow. The next section is going to be the most challenging – the Lange Wand (‘Long Wall’) runs for about 70km, where 100m high dunes drop straight to the narrow beach. Vehicles can’t go far along the zone and only at low tide. The only option will be to divert into the sand dunes. The dunes don’t run parallel to the shoreline, so this is going to be complex to get through. Luderitz is about 300km away from here.
Tonight we are staying at Namab Tented Camp, normally used by fishermen. The owner kindly agreed to support the expedition, which is very much appreciated.