Mouth of the Kunene River to 17.67785 S, 11.76253 E
We were up early, but it always takes a long time to break camp. From our beautifully sheltered camp, we drove about 10km back to the Kunene River mouth. A manager from the diamond mine at the river mouth was there to greet us. He was keen to get a story for the company’s newspaper. It was great to finally be ready to go after all that had happened in the last few days. After the obligatory photos I was off.
I had hoped we would be able to get there earlier as, all the while we were setting up, the wind was increasing in strength. Still, I managed a reasonable pace, considering the headwind – about 8km per hour. There were flocks of cormorants and terns taking to the air as I disturbed them, several jackals that looked in great condition feeding off seals, birds and whatever they can catch. For much of the day I was able to ride up to seals sleeping on the beach, quite often startling them.
About 8km from the start I met a group of fishermen from the mine. The waters are so plentiful, they barely needed to add bait to their lines. They were hauling a huge catch for the mine community.
As with yesterday, the wind started to pick up as the tide rolled in at around midday and the real struggle began. The higher the tide, the more I was forced to cycle over the softer sand beside the shoreline. I was soon struggling to manage 6km an hour.
This was particularly tough because I had been ill with a throat infection for 10 days, the sore throat just starting to come good in Purros. As a result I have lost fitness, so I was starting behind the eight ball.
This is such a harsh environment as the wind seems to suspend sand and salt in the air – it gets into everything. The ocean is very cold, about 15C as the Benguela current circulates straight from Antarctica. The sea breeze is particularly fresh. I kept three layers on all day, and that wasn’t enough when I stopped.
I was exhausted by the end of the day but I just wanted to ensure I made 50km. I need to average this every day, especially now that I have lost a couple of contingency days. We also don’t know the exact distance of the journey as no one has driven it all the way – we have estimated 1600km.
Elago found the best protected spot he could and we set up about 500m away from the shore, behind a couple of grassy, sandy mounds.
Location: 18.01381 S 11.82435 E
Total distance: 91km
We have started what I think will be the routine; Up at 6am, breakfast at 7am so that I can get going by about 7.30am. It only gets light at around 7.15. The idea is to get as much done as possible before the wind really kicks in.
Today, however, the wind did not die down over night and was still raging by the time I set off. Elago thought it may have something to do with the full moon. The first 10km took 1h50min! This continued all day. Top speed – 7.7km per hour. I decided to break the day down into 5km sections with a short break. That seemed the best way to combat it mentally. Once the tide was fully in, by early afternoon, I was forced to cycle in the soft sand. In the end I only managed 40km.
I knew there would be extreme wind, but I thought I would have an easier time in the mornings, when I planned to make most of the distance. The Skeleton Coast conditions for which it is notorious will change at some point and I will have to be ready to make the most of these and just hang in there on days like today. So far I have done two days of 7.5hours cycling and am feeling pretty sore. I will just have to get through it.