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Thread: In search of Father Jack.

  1. #1
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    In search of Father Jack.

    Some of you will remember that I flew down to Congo in January, purchased a local bike and rode south with Simon, into Angola, Namibia and Botswana, finally returning the bikes to store to Windhoek in Namibia in late February. All this is documented in the thread below which Simon and I shared. I'm known as Drumacoon Lad on this site. There is no need to sign in to read the text, just click on the link, but if you wish to comment, and please do, then it's necessary to register on the site which is free.

    Simon and I are flying down together again soon to pick up the bikes. Simon will head north and I will head south. My initial ride will be to visit South Namibia and tour South Africa, ending up in Johannesburg. I'll return next year, pick up the bike in Joburg and travel north in either one or two further trips to reach a village in Tanzania near Arusha, close to Kilimanjaro



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    The title may intrigue some and I'll admit it's an unusual title for a description of a motorcycle adventure, but it is relevant to the ultimate destination, so let me explain. I'll take you back to a small farm in Ireland in the 1960s, in fact to Drumacoon, County Monaghan. Every few years this priest would appear for some months, spend a lot of time around our house and then disappear again for a few years. He was a missionary priest and when he left us, he would return to Africa, Tanganyika(now Tanzania). He worked in a village the near Arusha and while there there, a school, clinic and church was built under his guidance. He was very different to the priests I was used to, not nearly as pius or obviously religious as the local priests. He was also a biker all his life and handy with tools.

    His first priority on arrival back in the Drumacoon area was to get the clock in the parish working again. The locals would hear the clock striking and know that "Fr Jack must be back". I'm not writing this as a justification of Christian missionary work in Africa, for which I have mixed feelings. In Fr Jack's case I believed he cared about the physical wellbeing of his parishioners and their opportunity to get education as well as their spiritual health.

    Fr Jack on his BSA

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    He was my fathers cousin and had been born in Glasgow and had a fascinating past which was romantic to me as a young boy. After he was ordained as a priest he joined the RAF in 1936 as a chaplain. He trained as a pilot spent most of WWII in North Africa, riding around on his army motorbike. As a chaplain he carried the rank of Squadron Leader but if you wanted to find him on the base, you didn't go to the officers mess but to the hanger, where you'd likely find him with the engineers, head stuck in an engine, spanner in hand. He was in Tubruk in Libya as the base was becoming encircled and the order came for the chaplains to leave. Fr Jack declined and was the only chaplain to remain during the siege. He was mentioned in dispatches and commended for rescuing and injured airmen under fire. He was asked once if he had ever picked up a weapon during the siege when things got desperate, he said not but if the gunner needed more ammunition he was happy to supply him.


    You may wonder what all this discussion about Fr Jack has to do with my ride to SA, or you may be well be ahead of me. However for many years my family and I have been curious about the place where he worked in current Tanzania. We all thought it was unlikely we'd have a chance to go there. However, when I was looking at a map of Africa, before travelling to Congo, I realised that Tanzania was not SO far away and as I now had a bike in southern Africa a plan began to hatch. So having finished the tour earlier this year, I felt it may be possible in the future to ride from SA to the Arusha area of Tanzania and see what I could find about the unconventional priest. It is very tempting to go north immediately with Simon and go straight to Tanzania but I think I'll be sorry if I give up this chance to tour SA. So my plan for September, October and some of November is to tour SA, finishing around Johannesburg and leaving the bike there. I'll then return next year to head north towards Tanzania, but that is for another time...

    My EN125 Suzuki in Botswana(note the lay-by sign behind)

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    Over the last few weeks I've been planning the SA trip. My wonderful EN125 Suzuki, is next to Simon's in a secure storage in Windhoek and we hope that the battery charger we left has been shared between the 2 bikes, keeping the batteries topped up. We've also booked both bikes in for a service in Windhoek the day after we arrive. I also left some equipment with the bike, a helmet, boots and tools etc. However I don't have an accurate inventory of what is with the bike, so I'm having to guess what needs to come with me, but I'm sure it will work out. I can of course take everything I need, but if I duplicate then I have to take the extra gear on the bike or discard it. One difference this time is I will take camping equipment so it will be interesting to see how that works. I also have a reputation for taking more tools etc than I need but there have been occasions where the spare part or extra tool have saved the day.


    Of course it has been said that the EN125 Suzuki is not an ideal African adventure bike, but that is part of the challenge. It's not fast but luckily I've not had to outrun a cheetah so far, only a grumpy elephant. I was amused by a German tourist we met in Namibia who admired my friends big R1150R but poured scorn on mine, saying it was not an adventure bike. He said he had an adventure bike. I asked where it was and he said it was in his garage in Germany. He didn't see the irony of claiming his bike in his garage was an adventure bike, but my bike, clearly on an African adventure, did not qualify. Theres a lot of macho rubbish talked about size of bike which I'm happy to dispel. I rode 5,000 miles on a mixture of roads in January/February and it served me well and remained upright, so if it continues in that vein I'll be very pleased.

    Below:

    The route of my trip from Congo, Angola Namibia Botswana and back to Namibia.

    The grumpy Elephant.

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    As I will be away for my birthday I seem to have acquired some additional luggage.

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    The link to the thread Simon and I shared, at the point when I joined him in Congo.

    https://www.ukgser.com/forums/showth...e-Congo/page11

  7. #7
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    Brilliant. Loved the African threads.
    I’m in
    Brian




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    Great start, Jim. (And for other readers’ information, I am the non-mechanical muppet who has benefitted from Jim’s generous approach to tool provision, whether it be a soldering iron in Mauritania or a Motronic unit removal and replacement in Angola )


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    Simon, a gentleman could not comment I'll be with you in spirit all the way.

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    Just love this place. Great intro

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    Good luck, Jim....looking forward to this - great intro.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barak666 View Post
    Good luck, Jim....looking forward to this - great intro.
    �� and not an angry or swear word yet that I recall ...

  13. #13
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    Excellent. Looking forward to the new posts.
    2005 1150 Adventure SE. 17,000 Miles.

  14. #14
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    Well its been an eventful first 48 hours of the trip. Our drive to Heathrow was plesant but after that the fun started. When we tried to check in for our one-way flight to Namibia we were asked for our return ticket. By definition one-way does not have a return but after a lot of discussion we were told we needed one to be checked in. So we had to get our phones, book a flight exiting Namibia, and in my case to Johannesburg and pay about £500. This I did, hoping it could be cancelled later and with this new ticket we were able to check in.

    Then we relaxed in the lounge keeping an eye on the flight. When it came time to show the gate a notice "please wait" appeared, this was the first indication there may be delays. This became a creeping delay and we left around 2 hours late. As we had less than 2 hours to make our connection in Addis Abba to Windhoek, things were not looking good.

    We arrived in Addis in pouring rain and a lot of confusion. We joined a bus which took us directly to a plane awaiting to leave, we were hastly handed prepared boarding cards and told to get on this flight to Johannesburg, which we did. The detailed itinerary told us we'd be in Joburg till 19:30 and arrive in Windhoek at 21:30 not the original 13:20, most of a day lost. First world problems, I hear you say and Simon and were pretty chilled about it all.

    For me, arriving to hear Ireland had played well to beat Scotland in the Rugby World Cup was a boost, and a relief as I'd arrived wearing a green rugby shirt which got some comment. At that stage I didn't realise I'd be wearing it for a lot longer, but more later. We passed the time usefully in Joburg, browsing shops, eating, sending cards and watching Liverpool maintain an unbeaten start in the Premier League.

    The food on the flight to Windhoek was the best so far, but we'd been sitting and eating too long. Finally arriving at Windhoek we rushed, more in hope than expectation, to the small baggage hall. There was nothing there recognisable as our luggage, it had not made it. We reported it missing and left for our lodgings at the farm, where also the bikes were stored. The cold beer on the terrace, looking up at a spectacular African starry sky, helped us unwind and we slept quite well.

    Next morning we were shown the bikes which looked like a couple of barn finds, covered in a layer of dust. Simon's bike, which had suffered problems on the last trip, started immediatly. My bike which had been flawless, failed to start. This was a surprise but then became the next problem to solve. We cleaned plugs, siphoned fuel from Simons bike to top up the tank, cleaned the plug. We kick started it, used the electric starter, boosted it all with a jumpstart from a car, but it would not fire. I then decided I'd reluctantly take the carburettor apart, even in this dusty, sandy farmyard. Then Simon remembered he had some fuel additive which cleaded injectors, from earlier problems on his bike. My bike didn't have any injectors but I hoped it may clean the carburettor without removing it. We added the cleaner to the fuel and almost immediatly the engine burst into life.

    This meant we could leave the farm, travel into town and contact our respective bike dealers who were to work on the bikes before we headed off. The ride into Windhoek was great, wonderful to be riding in Africa again. The wildlife helped us reconnect with Africa, the warthogs on the side of the road and the troop of baboons crossing the road. I also enjoyed seeing the weaver bird nests which were a feature of the last trip.

    The missing luggage was a bind as we had spare parts and accessories in the luggage, in Simons case a set of tyres and for me a top box and oil filters. We decided we'd put the bikes in with the dealers and get them to do what they can, while waiting for the luggage. So my bike has now been serviced, had a new rear tyre and chain fitted and its been cleaned. Simons bike goes in to the garage tomorrow and we are hoping the tyres and topbox will be here soon.

    Returning to our B&B this evening we found that one bag had been delivered, mine, so I'm able to remove the rugby shirt and other items of clothing.

    Some photos below:

    The last view we had of our lbggage, an unexpected view of Joburg airport and the hapoy rugby supporter. Then the view from the farm this morning and an African coffee table. Siphoning fuel and my bike ready to leave the farm. New rear tyre on my bike and the view over Windhoek tonight.

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    Looking forward to this!

  16. #16
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    Well for those if you holding your breath, waiting for our luggage to arrive, breath easy, it came today. Three days after we arrived. We've lost a couple of days of our travelling but can leave tomorrow. I'll head south towards South Africa and Simon will go north. We are riding in Africa tomorrow, yippee!

    Photos below:

    1 The delayed top-box and panniers with the black "Rush" sticker.

    2 Normal packing preparation for an overland traveller.

    3 The top-box and panniers installed on the trusty Suzuki EN125 adventure bike, flying the Irish flag during the Rugby World Cup.



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