Shaun and I bid the rest of the team goodby and headed back out to the beach for the run North. The last fuel stop was on the outskirts of town so this is where we’d fill the tanks and the 200 liter drum of fuel jammed inside the back of the Land Rover. It was during the filling process as the fuel pump numbers rolled past 200 litres that the attendant came out waving, yelling and fuming at us. I looked at him and smiled which is what you do when you have no idea what another person is saying. Shaun seemed to work out that he thought we were about to do a runner or not be able to pay for the fuel. Being Westerners we could have afforded to buy him out but he’d obviously been burnt a few times in the past.
Driving up the beach in the afternoon was actually a rest from the hectic week we had had getting all the parts together. Shaun and I just chilled out and let the Ks roll on by. The sea was rising towards a high tide as we again approached the National Park check point but this time we were prepared and with a left turn we headed of into the Sahara desert once again. For me this has to be some of the most fun in a 4wd. Ducking weaving searching out a trail where it’s non exist. Once we were a few kilometres inland we ran parallel the the beach for another few kilometres. Then we headed back out the the beach to continue our way north having bypassed the check point. As far as I know there is some fella still sitting there waiting for those white suckers to come back and pay him.
With night just about on us we pulled up behind a dune with the sound of the ocean in the distance we crashed for the night. I chose to sleep under the stars on the roof rack. I know where the term “chandelier of stars” comes from.
The next morning it took us till lunch time to find our abandoned team. As the GPS way point got closer the tension for Shaun and I increased with the fear of what we might find. Would they still be there? Would they be dead? When we came around a small dune to see the Land Rover and two people sitting in the shade of it we let out a cheer and hugs all around.
After we had some lunch and shared all the stories about the preceding week we got stuck into the engine rebuilding. Because Peter had prepared a lot of the motor it only took around 2 hours to have the girl running like a Swiss watch. No one was interested in playing in this sandpit any longer so we turned tail to do the drive to Nouakchott. I drove the repaired 4wd so I could keep an eye on how she was running. Early on she was running perfectly but problems were on their way.
We had decided we would just drive all the way to Nouakchott without a camp over. We made our way back around the the check point without incident. It was during this process where I needed full power to get up some of the dunes I started to feel I was down on power. To be honest at this point in time I really didn’t care to much as long as I could keep driving I wasn’t stopping to investigate. As the long night wore on I was slowly loosing power to the point I was selecting lower gears and revving the engine harder to try and make enough power to get the job done.
By the time the lights of Nouakchott were on the horizon I was really having a tough time keeping the old girl running. She was back firing and had so little power, I was in 1st gear at times. I finally managed to crawl of the beach and onto the road into town. I think the motor died as we rolled to a stop out front of the accomodation. The rest of the crew were sitting out front when we pulled up and we all excitedly reconnected.
To round the story out the next morning upon investigation I found that despite our best efforts sand dust had built up on the pushrods and cam shaft lobes so that when I adjusted the valves, the sand gave me incorrect adjustments. This meant that once the sand got filtered out in the oil filter and the motor settled down the valve gear wasn’t opening the valves enough to let the motor run. I readjusted the vales and she ran sweet again.
In part 6 we head to Senegal for more of this crazy African adventure.
I’m MadMatt stay safe on the trails.