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

Boating NZ - - Boat World -

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.

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