Sunday, 29 April 2012

An epic, soaking wet journey in the Cobra!

We finally arrived home in the UK last night in our Cobra, soaking wet and bloody cold! We did 1,661 miles, more than half of which was in really bad weather.

The first part of the drive, through Spain, was very good, in hot temperatures under blue skies. Then it all went wrong. Due to a faulty connection on the alternator, the battery wasn’t being charged properly and as the power dropped, the fuel pump cut out, leaving us stranded in the pouring rain, with no roof on the car, on a motorway, just 15 minutes away from getting our ferry back to Portsmouth from Northern Spain. Bugger!

After that, all subsequent ferries were cancelled due to the bad weather, or full, and we ended up having to drive through France in miserable weather to get a ferry from St Malo. Not normally a problem, this was a huge issue in a car with no roof – I don’t mean a convertible, I mean no roof whatsoever, which is no fun in the rain. The bad connection on the alternator turned out to be the alternator had a quickly failing terminal disease and another stop at another garage confirmed it was a specialist alternator and yes, they could get one in 4 or 5 days. We decided to drive on anyway, charging the battery whenever we could, so we could keep driving.

We got into Portsmouth last night in heavy rain and started driving on sidelights only in terrible spray, only turning on the wipers every few minutes in an attempt to preserve what little power was left in the battery. I really didn’t want to break down at the roadside in pouring rain, so headlights were out of the question. At least keeping moving causes most of the rain to get blown over the top of the car (okay it then blows backwards into the cockpit so our backs were pretty wet) and somehow, we made it back in 2.5 hours of hell. People were waving and honking their horns at us in support, but most were probably thinking we were crazy, which of course we were. I was wearing my Harley-Davidson motorcycle waterproofs and Jackie had the car cover over her to keep some of the water off.

Our son Jeremy had put up the gazebo so we could park the car on the drive under cover, but the wind was blowing it away, resulting in us having to tie it down. Anyway, we got home safely and a warming cuppa soon sorted us out, with clothes and gear dripping everywhere in the house. What a journey it had been, driving as we did from near Gibraltar in southern Spain, all the way to near London in the UK, in some of the worse weather I have seen. Madness!

Many thanks to Jackie for once again being a real trooper. She hates the cold and went the whole journey without a single complaint – I am so lucky to have her as a wife! Next time, let’s hope for better weather!


All Over The World said...

Glad to see you made it back, Welcome to Sunny England NOT !!!!!!!!

All the best Tony T

Canajun said...

I think someone deserves a medal!

BeemerGirl said...

I mean, I enjoy playing in the rain...but that is taking it a bit far. ;) Glad you made it home safely. And just think of tha thorough bath the Cobra received!

Trobairitz said...

It is good to have a sense of humor in the face of adversity. It sounds as though you handled it well and your wife was a trooper for just keeping calm and carrying on.

I am glad you two made it back safe. I bet you were glad you were experiencing that weather and charging issues on 4 wheels and not 2.

I am picturing you two wrapped in car cover and riding jacket soaked to the bone. Not fun but at least you can look back at it and laugh.

Geoff James said...

At least as a biker, you were probably used to getting soaked and cold! Had an alternator fail on my Blackbird touring the south island of NZ. Bbought another battery, charging one and swapping them over to let me continue the tour.

Looking on the bright side, it's a great tale to re-live in the coming years!!

bobskoot said...


right now it is memories of a miserable time. Later you will smile and think of the "good old days" when you were young and daring

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

Rex J. Covington said...

Great Story! Stay Dry My Friend!

Charlie6 said...

Your wife is quite the trooper! Good for her!

Hope the rain didn't ruin the car's interior?


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

SonjaM said...

I agree, it will be a tale to tell once you have warmed and dried up again. Kudos to the wife for pulling through!

Meanwhile I had perfect riding weather in New Zealand... ;-)

Gary France said...

Tony – Sunny England it has not been. It’s really crap because we should be out on our bikes!

Canajun – I agree someone deserves a medal – My wife, for putting up with my antics for all these years!

BeemerGirl – Playing in the rain is fun when you are seven years old, but not at my age, sitting in a car. I think the bath didn’t do some of the electrics much good, but they seem to have dried out now. Except one part...... investigations into a stuttering coil pack are in progress!

Trobairitz – A trooper she was! I agree, what’s the point of getting down, when you can smile and enjoy it a bit more? Doing that journey on two wheels would not have been fun. Riding jacket, yes. Plus waterproof rain gear!

Geoff – You are so right about having a tale to tell in years to come. Good for you for buying the spare battery and charging one as you went – there is nearly always a solution to problems! (there goes that engineer speaking again!)

Gary France said...

Bob – LOL, you are absolutely right. Hopefully in 10, 20 30 or even 40 years!

Rex – Thanks. I have dried out but the footwells in the car still resemble small ponds.

Charlie6 / Dom – She really is! The seats in the car are leather and the carpet is a soft nylon, so the interior should be fine.

Sonja – Jackie didn’t complain once. She may not have been having a great time, but didn’t let it show :)

Chris Luhman said...

Glad you eventually made it home! what a journey.