Following on from my post last week, about how to get a bogged 4WD going again, I thought I'd share a few stories of how I've been bogged, and what we did to get out of the situation!
1) Poor choice of line at Collie
Several years ago, we headed down to Collie for the weekend, and stayed at Honeymoon Pool. Having just had new muddies fitted to the Hilux, I was keen to find some 4WD tracks, so took off in the afternoon with a mate following in his GQ Patrol. It didn't take too long to find a small powerlines track, and after letting the tyres down we started driving along. At some stage, I came up with the grand idea of pulling off the main track and onto a freshly graded section to the side. Little did I know that it was slop underneath, but we soon found out.
I was driving along slowly, when I felt the rear starting to sink. I thought it would pop back up in a second and kept driving, but it just kept sinking down, until I came to a halt. I put it in reverse and tried to get out, but it was stuck solid. I knew we were in trouble, as there was mud over the side steps on one side of the vehicle. That, and the missus turned to me with a look I'll never forget!
Obviously Daniel (in the other car) thought this whole incident was hilarious, and we proceeded to pull out the recovery gear. The problem though, was the distance between where the Hilux was and the nearest solid ground. We tried to set up to pull the Hilux out backwards with snatch straps, but found they weren’t long enough. Not long after, a local came past and asked if we needed a hand. We accepted, and he soon came along with his tractor and some chain. With the tractor attached to the front of the hilux via a long length of chain, he gave it a tug, and the tractor just jumped around like a bucking bull, wheels spinning and not moving the tractor at all. Great.
By now, the sun was going down and I was starting to get worried. A mate of the tractor driver had arrived in between all this, and was watching the saga. When he saw the tractor jumping around, they decided to attach the 60 series land cruiser to the tractor as well. With both vehicles pulling, the suction finally broke and my 4WD finally popped out of the slop. I wasn’t hanging around either; I stomped on the accelerator until we were back on solid ground.
We gave some money to the locals, and thanked them over and over again for their efforts. There’s no way we’d have gotten out that day without them! We can look back now and laugh, but I should never have gone off the track like that, and our recovery could have gone very wrong if something had broken.
2) Burying the 80 in a salt lake
Back in March, we headed down south for 3 weeks away. On the first day, we were up at 3AM and started our long journey (about 12 hours) to Esperance and then the campsite. We were nearly at camp site at Israelite Bay, some 200 km east of Esperance when it happened. I was distracted looking at something outside, and missed the turn around the side of the lake. I looked up and saw there was only about 100 metres back onto the main track in the direction I was heading in, and could see some wheel marks to the left of us, so proceeded to continue. A few seconds later and the rear of the Land Cruiser dropped down a good 70cm, as the surface of the salt lake gave way. It popped back up instantly, and I sighed in relief.
Too soon though; half a second later it crashed through the surface and sunk, coming to an almighty stop. Again, I got the look from Sarah, and tried to brush off my concern. I got out and had a quick walk around, and knew we were in trouble. On the first day of our holidays; how could it all go so wrong?!
The 80 was badly bogged. On the drivers side, my rear bar was pretty much under the mud. I could walk around the car, and some spots were rock hard, and others you'd sink down to your knees the second you hit the dirt. To top it off, the mud stank, was salty as and had bits of metal in it.
Again, Daniel thought it was pretty funny. I was struggling to see the funny side of it though! After all, we had no winch, only one recovery vehicle and the nearest help was some 200km away on some terrible tracks. We pulled out all of the recovery gear we had, and came up with a bit of a plan. It took me a long time even to get access to my recovery gear; the 80 had sunk so badly that I couldn't even open one of the tyre carriers. Eventually I got it open, and could access the drawer with snatch straps and shackles.
We joined 4 snatch straps together, and hooked it up via an equaliser strap to the patrol, some 50 odd metres away. I jumped back into the 80, flicked the lockers on and radio'd over for Daniel to give it a whirl. On the first few attempts he just tried to tow me out, but when the 80 didn't even move at all we knew we had to try a bit harder. Even giving it a bit of a run up we were making no progress, so we got out and went back to the drawing board.
I could see the sun starting to go down, and after sitting in the car since 3AM, I was in no mood to spend the night on a stinky salt lake. I hopped onto the roof racks (which were below head height now!) and threw the Maxtrax down. We spent 15 minutes digging the sloppy mud away from the front wheels, and rammed the Maxtrax under the front wheels. There was no way we would be able to get them under the rear wheels, so had to hope the front would pop up quickly and drag the rear through.
After a few more decent pulls, I finally felt the 80 move a bit, and the second the Maxtrax bit, the 80 jumped up and out of the hole. I tromped it, following the snatch strap line, until I was on firm ground. The whole side and underneath of my car was covered in stinky, salty mud, and it took a good 10 minutes to pull one of the Maxtrax out of the slop, but we got there. With Sarah complaining about how I smelt, we trundled into camp. We hadn't even driven 50 metres down the track when 2 more 4WD's popped out of the shrub, and gave us a solid look as they drove past. Probably thought 'Morons'!
Being 200km away from civilisation meant we had everything on board, and only had a limited supply of water. I am very careful with my cars, and was not happy having salty mud all over the vehicle. I used every speck of used dish water to clean the car over the next few days, and got most of it off. When we got back to Esperance I spent about $30 at the car wash getting it all off; no way I was going to leave salty mud on my car!
Looking back, we were very lucky to get out with what we had. A length of winch rope would have been very handy to give us some extra room to move without adding to the elasticity; 4 snatch straps joined together meant we had a huge amount of stretch before the pulling effect took hold. Maxtrax have proven themselves over and over, and are a product I highly recommend. I know the ELockers played a huge role in providing equal traction to all 4 wheels as well. I'm grateful for the recovery vehicle too, albeit a Nissan!
3) Sinking in the dunes at Lancelin
A few months ago we decided to do the standard run from Lancelin Dunes to Wedge Island. We pulled into the off road area, and began letting the tyres down. I had new muddies, and decided 15 PSI would be fine. We drove through the dunes for a bit exploring the ever changing dune system, and having a great time. At one stage, I was driving about 5 metres away from the side of a small dune, and I felt the 80 start to struggle. I thought it will pull through fine; I've never had any issues on sand before, and kept going (Do you see a pattern in my thinking?!). A few seconds later and I could feel the wheels were making the 80 go down more than forward, so stopped.
One of the ways to recover a stuck 4WD is to reverse back and forth slowly, with the wheels turning very slowly. I gave this a go, and it seemed to creep backwards a bit, but kept going down. You can see from the photo that it was pretty stuck, and by this stage I gave up hope of recovering it. A mate pulled up with his Navara, smiling gleefully. 'Don't worry', he says. 'The Nissan will recover you'. Oh, the shame! We tried to get his car in front of mine to pull me out forwards, but his began to sink too, so we gave up and pulled the 80 out backwards.
It was incredible to walk on the sand though; normally the dunes are pretty solid and you can drive around with 25 PSI in the tyres all day long. This particular section of sand though, must have been recently moved, and I found myself sinking down to the shins regularly just walking around the car. No wonder she sank!
4) Stuck in a giant puddle near Lake Jasper
Our last bogging took place down at Lake Jasper, near Milyeannup. We had driven for nearly 3 hours on some terrible tracks, and were keen to get home the quickest way possible. My GPS showed there were a few tracks around the lake, and back onto the highway, so we decided to give them a whirl. We went through 3 puddles about sill height without any issues, and we stopped just in front of a big puddle. I looked at it, and ignored the advice of Sarah (don't go through that Aaron; you won't make it!), and took off in 2nd low, with both lockers on. You see, the 80 has been incredibly capable, and with both lockers I really hadn't found anywhere it wouldn't go. I know I should have walked it, but with the water as cold as it was, I took the easy way out (or so I thought!)
We got about half way when the bonnet took a dive underwater, and I knew we were in trouble (again!). Not long after and the 80 stopped moving completely, with zero traction even when I moved the steering back and forth.I radio'd over pretty urgently, and got the boys to start rigging a recovery up. You know you've got a great bunch of mates when they are prepared to strip down into their jocks and wade into icey cold water to recovery your stuck 4WD, whilst you sit on the roof racks and coordinate it! When I got out the window, I looked towards the back of the car, and could see the start of water near the middle passenger door. I calmly asked Sarah to move any electrics out of the way, and jumped out the window onto the roof. By the time I got back in, there was a steady stream coming in from the rear, and we had water about 100mm up the passengers side. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. I gave the old girl a bit of a bootful to see if it would pop out, but no go.
Once the straps were set up, the Navara gave us a bit of a pull, which did absolutely nothing. I asked him to give it a bit more, which he did, and still nothing. The next pull was quite a bit harder, and the 80 moved back, instantly gaining traction and backing out under its own steam. Once we were out of the puddle, I reached across to open the doors, and let the water out. I was relieved, and Sarah looked like she had seen a ghost. Needless to say, the drive home was not so pleasant; the heater on full bore to dry some of the carpet, and another 3 hours of rough tracks!
We managed to dry most of the carpet with towels by drying them on the fire, and I removed the carpet once we got home to clean it. Luckily the water was fresh and relatively clean!
Now I know what you are thinking, I keep getting recovered by Nissan's. It's true, and its such a shame! I need to go 4WDing with more Toyotas!
I hope these bogged incidents will give you a bit of an understanding of how things can go wrong, and what you need to do to get out. In all situations, we could have done things better, and will learn from them next time someone else gets bogged. Someone else is due to get stuck; I've had my fair share for now!
Have you been badly bogged before? What did you do to get out? Let me know below; I'd love to know I'm not the only one that gets stuck out on the tracks!