4x4 Mega World camp­fire story

You’ve been plan­ning that first trip to the sand dunes for a long time. You’ve done all the re­search but you still need some re­cov­ery gear. So you head to your lo­cal out­door and camp­ing store, and they sell you a mir­a­cle sand ex­trac­tion de­vice, for a pret

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Stuck in the sand

There we were, next to the At­lantic Ocean, on South Africa’s beau­ti­ful West Coast. Ahead of us lay some sandy tracks, lead­ing to the Hon­dek­lip Bay light­house. There are two routes to reach the light­house.

The first – and most pop­u­lar op­tion – is an easy sand road, ac­ces­si­ble by most ve­hi­cles if the driver em­ploys some logic and sand driv­ing acu­men.

Sec­ondly, a much more in­tri­cate, dif­fi­cult route that runs up and over some sand dunes. These tracks are not suited to nor­mal sedans. In fact, we had to use a fair dol­lop of mo­men­tum to get our low-slung Subaru Out­back 4WD through some sec­tions. With even more dif­fi­cult dunes loom­ing ahead, we de­cided to rather park the Scooby and go and en­joy the rock pools with the kids.

En­ter our pal Frikkie*. He has been look­ing for­ward to this mo­ment for months. You see, he drives a Jeep Grand Chero­kee 3.6 V6, and he’d been plan­ning to test its sand driv­ing abil­i­ties since the day he drove it off the Jeep deal­er­ship’s floor.

Be­ing a man of care­ful and cal­cu­lated ap­proach, Frikkie had gone shop­ping be­fore this trip, ac­quir­ing an ex­pen­sive ‘sand re­cov­ery sys­tem’ con­sist­ing of bags, made from a heavy-duty plas­tic (which one is sup­posed to fill with sand).

Well, this was ex­actly the mo­ment Frikkie was wait­ing for, never mind if the Subaru was parked, or not.

He had those amaz­ing sand re­cov­ery bags in the boot if the un­think­able hap­pened and he got the Grand stuck. So off went Frikkie, the 209kW Jeep Grand Chero­kee blast­ing up and down the sand tracks. This went on for a while, as Frikkie’s de­meanour pro­gressed from trepid to brave to un­stop­pable.

Then it all went very quiet. Too quiet. Af­ter 10 min­utes there was still no sign of the Jeep. Then we saw a shiny ob­ject in the sand, far away. It was the Jeep, and it seemed very much sta­tion­ary.

So off we headed into the dunes while the kids played in the rock pools, keen to see how well those sand bag con­trap­tions work. But when we reached Frikkie he had a slightly hot and both­ered look about him. He wanted to know if we could maybe work out the ‘magic’ part of his re­cov­ery bags.

So, it os­ten­si­bly works like this: you fill sand bags with sand. Then you in­sert said sand bags un­der wheels. Per­fect right? Er, no. Those bags, in the heat of the day, proved to be as slip­pery as ice. So the wheel just spun on the smooth plas­tic sur­face, gain­ing ab­so­lutely no grip at all. Hence no for­ward mo­men­tum, and no mir­a­cle re­cov­ery.

In the end, it took about an hour’s worth of dig­ging, push­ing and swear­ing to ex­tract the big Grand Chero­kee from its predica­ment. The ‘re­cov­ery’ bags proved to be as use­ful as an empty box of matches.

That night, around the camp­fire, Frikkie vowed to re­turn the use­less sand bags to the ‘sen­der’ and to head straight to his lo­cal 4×4 ac­ces­sory store for some real sand re­cov­ery equip­ment.

Strangely though, he doesn’t seem so fond of driv­ing in sand any­more.

* Not his real name.

Be­low: When driv­ing in sand, make sure you have the right (re­cov­ery) stuff. Like proper sand lad­ders (pic­tured), and not use­less plas­tic bags.

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