Would you drive an 85k Land Cruiser through salt water?

Tides are not something that I am used to having to deal with. Perth has very small tides, and launching a boat is done easily regardless of time of day or season. However, this is not the case once you start heading north, especially in the area surrounding Broome, where tides can be up to 9 metres difference.

Yep, let that sink in for a minute, the difference between low and high tide can be 300 – 500 metres of walking down a beach. What this means, is you have a very limited window for launching and then retrieving a boat, and its even worse if the boat ramp is make shift, or pretty much non existent.

Tides at Port Smith
A beach, or underwater depending on the tides

While camping at Port Smith Caravan Park, we headed down one morning to drop the tinny into the lagoon and go out for a dive, or so we thought. What we arrived to, was a puddle of water not even 10cm deep. The boat ramp goes into a little creek, and can be used a couple of hours after low tide, and you need to be back in a few hours after high tide to retrieve your boat.

To get there, you drive through a few gaps in the mangroves, and back down a short slope, where hopefully your boat will float in the creek going out to the lagoon.

However, if you come back in from the ocean too early, the boat ramp is covered in water, and to get your car to the ramp you’d have to drive through about 200 metres of salt water, anywhere from 700mm deep to just little puddles once the tide recedes.

Boat ramp at low tide
The boat ramp at low tide

Erring on the side of caution, we headed back in towards the boat ramp early, and threw the anchor in, waiting for the tide to go out so we could go and get my brothers Ford Ranger and load the boat on the trailer.

Whilst waiting, a big boat arrives, and to my surprise, they drive up to the boat ramp, and drop a bloke off, then back out. A few minutes later, I see a brand spanking new 79 series Land Cruiser with a heap of nice goodies bolted to it ploughing through the salt water with the boat trailer in tow.

Boat ramp under water
Boat ramp underwater

Honestly, I cringed at the thought of the salty water being flicked everywhere under the 4WD. In between your leaf springs, brakes, panels and every other nook and cranny you’d have a hard time getting to. They collected the boat, and we saw them later on.

Now, some of you will say, so what, you just wash it and move on; no harm done. I don’t believe any sort of washing, short of parking your car in a fresh water river for half an hour is going to clean the salt water off properly, and if you’ve seen what it does to a 4WD, you’d never go anywhere near it.

At the end of the day, you make your own decisions; if you are happy to drive an 85k Land Cruiser through salty water for the sake of 30 minutes of waiting for the tide, that’s your business. I certainly wouldn’t though; I wouldn’t do it with my previous 80 Series Land Cruiser, which was worth a lot less than that. Each to their own; what do you reckon?

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  1. Hey mate,

    Yep – look after them and they will look after you!


  2. PaulnSans says:

    Mate I concur. I had an 80 series before my current (200 Series) and I wouldn’t even take that through the salt water being of exactly the same opinion as yourself. I loved my 80 and took her on the beach (mainly at Wedge Is.) all the time to fish but rinsed it off nonetheless even though I didn’t go anywhere near the water with it. I did at times traverse damp to mildly wet beach sand but even then slowed to a crawl so it didn’t get thrown over the under body of the car but I rinsed it every single time we’d go up there. We sold the 80 series a year ago without a hint of rust on it as a result – and it was 24 years old!