With our recovery skills at times being more talk than practise we headed to Lancelin to hone our sand game.
First up we wanted to get the Prado properly stuck. We found a nice bowl with no easy outs and followed the text book 'what not to do' to dig in deep. A quick check confirmed there was no easy driving out of this one.
We wanted to setup a solid challenge for our MAXTRAX, but we also wanted to use them as intended to give them every chance of success. We set to work. Using our long-handled shovel and the MAXTRAX as shovels themselves we cleared sand. We made sure we could get the ramps under the tires for good traction and that they were angled upwards. Our theory was that we wanted the vehicle to move both forwards and upwards. Upwards meaning that the belly we were caught on would be quickly freed.
With the long-handled shovel, we also cleared a few key areas. This extra step didn’t take long, and we were keen to see how much progress we could make on the first attempt.
With four MAXTRAX carefully positioned, extra sand cleared and low range selected Luke was ready to roll. This was June, but summer hot – the thought of extra time on the shovels was not appealing.
Just as we hoped - the MAXTRAX were drawn down as the tyres bit in. The Prado lunged forwards, upwards and almost out. It wasn’t a hole in one, but we’d gained 2 metres uphill, in soft sand and from a purposefully sticky spot. We we’re almost out and a quick reset and second effort was all that was required to finish the job.
Next up we wanted to test using the ramps to aid a snatch recovery. We’d been discussing the forces involved in snatches, the danger of failures, but also the pressure on the running gear of the wedged vehicle.
For sand, there are plenty of scenarios where snatching alone is effective, but we discussed the benefits of taking the time to place the MAXTRAX and recover in combination. We hoped a gentler snatch would work in many instances, and that this would be both safer and lead to less vehicle damage.
So, we repositioned the Prado back in the sand bowl, placed the four MAXTRAX, connected the bridle, snatch strap and dampener.
Luke, now back in his 4WD, came over the radio "snatching" and the ’76 rolled forward. As the snatch strap became taught I tapped the Prado’s throttle to assist. The Prado gently popped up, forward and was free.
There are certainly times where much more pull is required, but to look after our crew and machines we’ll certainly be opting for this gentler option where possible.
A beach run finished our day and after the hard section was this easy bit… We both scraped through, just, and were glad it was sunset beers and not sunset shovels.
Practice makes perfect and for us it had been far too long since our last skills session - we're looking forward to our next one.
Words Mike Collister. Photographs Mike Collister and Luke Harben.