TURTLE SCATTERS SAVIOUR’S ASHES LIFE’S A BEACH
A rescued green sea turtle named Picasso was recently released back into the Gulf of Mexico with a special mission – carrying the ashes of Tony Amos – the self-taught oceanographer who nursed it back to health. British-born Amos died, aged 80, of complica
Regardless of what vehicle you use, beach launching always runs the risk of getting stuck, sometimes with disastrous consequences. But there are ways to launch and retrieve a boat off the beach – and ways not to. As I proceeded to pull my boat out of the water at Hatfields Beach recently, a family attempted to do the same with their new 5.5m fibreglass cabin boat. Things didn’t go well.
As I watched the drama unfold, it was clear the group was inexperienced – certainly they hadn’t done a lot of beach launching. The upshot was that they got their near-new AWD vehicle well and truly buried in the soft sand, the sea having its way with the vehicle every time a wave rolled in. Luckily it was calm and the surf was minimal, but the car received a thorough salt water wash-down.
Getting the vehicle out was a mission, but with the aid of a Good Samaritan in a VW Touareg, after a couple of attempts we finally pulled the car from the sea, after unhitching the trailer and turning the front wheels of the stuck vehicle to follow the tow vehicle. We then put the boat on the semi-submerged trailer and used a line to pull boat and trailer up onto the beach at almost parallel to the shoreline.
Although conditions for beach launching and retrieving were good – reasonably firm sand and very little surf – the driver of this vehicle made several rookie mistakes.
Firstly, he backed his boat trailer into the water with the trailer and vehicle in line rather than at an angle. When the vehicle is at an angle to the trailer, it’s much easier to break the boat trailer out of the sand when attempting to pull the rig up the beach.
Secondly, he backed the trailer – and vehicle – too far into the water. On most beaches there is too little fall to float the boat onto the trailer. Often the best you can hope for is to nudge the bow of the boat up to the first roller and then winch it onto the trailer. Wherever possible avoid submerging your vehicle’s wheels in the water, particularly if waves are sweeping the beach – moving water will scour sand away from the tyres in quick time.
Thirdly, he took too long getting his boat onto the trailer and securing it – see above. The car’s wheels were already deeply mired in soft sand before he even attempted to pull the boat out.
Finally, don’t keep spinning the wheels when you are stuck – you only dig the vehicle deeper and AWDS bury all four wheels!
In this situation it would have been wiser to leave the vehicle on firm sand above the waterline at an angle to the trailer and either drag the boat to the trailer before winching it on (difficult with larger, heavier boats), or better still, unhitch the trailer, walk it into the water on the jockey wheel and winch it under the boat. You can then use a strong line to tow the rig out of the water onto firm sand.
You might get a bit wet, but at least your vehicle stays dry.