Numerous ships lie scattered along her rugged coastline, taken hostage by fog and storms. Mining towns have been left abandoned, and remain scattered over the eerie and desolate landscapes. The Skeleton Coast can be unforgiving and cruel and little did we know that we would also lie victim to her grips.
On a cold winter evening, a chilling ring from the Satphone prompted an extremely urgent recovery mission. I write down coordinates, acquire the necessary permission, and interrupt Trevor mid-beer to assist, adrenaline pumping. The route down south is tricky, especially at high tide and particularly at night. The winter fog hangs thick and relentless over the coast, but the matter is pressing..
Instructed to bring only fuel and rope, we hit the road down South. We meander passed the salt mine, and as we reach Paaltjies deflate our tyres and head-on, direction Sandwich Harbour. We do countless day trips to Sandwich Harbour and know the area well but as soon as you cross the border into the Sperrgebiet and Concession Area the sand dunes lie stretched out, shifting and unpredictable.
We arrived at the coordinates only to find the icy grip of the Atlantic Ocean growing tighter around both our recovery truck and our Hilux. Regardless we tied our ropes and yanked with no avail. At one point it the only way to get the shackles tied down to the vehicles was to swim in and still, countless tugs later, no luck. We had to wait it out until low tide, with one dry Hilux, no supplies and 6 of us fighting for some time with the heater.
At dawn, we started digging, all hands on deck at all wheels with only a few hours to high tide. Finally, we got Dasha out, the car that got Travel Uncharted on its feet. She started! She could drive! We tied ropes on both Hilux bakkies to the truck and finally, the truck made it too. What a relief!
With no time to spare and 24 hours to get to our next tour, we ventured North. Tired but grateful.
Dasha – dubbed so by our Russian clients, sadly did not make it. The rate of corrosion on our coastline is astonishing. It consumed her and she had to be written off…
To the ultra-tough dune bashing, truck towing, load carrying ambassador of Travel Uncharted, may you rest in peace!
PS: Our 4×4 Mitsubishi Fuso still runs to this day!