So there I was standing on the roof of the Beast looking at the Nissan Patrol which effectively was hung on the tree. Jason and Elly were on the ground looking up at me, they both declined my kind offer to get up with me, to be fair maybe they had spent enough time in the air already that day.
Although I was surveying the situation from every angle I had known how I was going to preform the rescue from the minute I saw the stranded Patrol, what I was checking was the best way to approach it (there is a pattern to these things). Now I know there might be a few greenies out there, yep even we get them out in the middle of nowhere, who will think less of me for doing this but there really was only one way to get the Patrol down and that was to limb the tree. That’s right straight off at the trunk and drop the vehicle with the limb still wedged under the roof top tent and if I did it right limited damage to the four wheel drive.
I know what you’re thinking, how can I possibly hurt a defenceless tree…well if the tree was defenceless it wouldn’t have attacked the car now would it!! Sorry sometimes I do get carried away. What you are probably thinking is that if I simply limb the tree I have no control over where the vehicle falls, and that is true in part but I will explain how I overcame that part in a minute.
The whole thing about a rescue like this is understanding the stages that it needs to be done in and making sure each stage is done right so that the stage following it works. Now when I say I needed to limb the tree there was a little bit more to it that that because as soon as the weight of the branch is removed from the trunk I would be at the mercy of gravity and with the branches and leaves at one end of the limb the weight could easily topple the vehicle side ways. I didn’t want that and I didn’t think the Jeffery’s did either.
So there was a simple answer cut the head off the limb, drop all the branches and leave the four wheel drive hanging on a branchless limb. Had the limb not been as big as it was I might have needed a different approach but there was no doubt the branch without the head would hold the weight of the vehicle without breaking.
I move the Beast into position, retrieved the Stihl Farmboss chainsaw from the undertray box on the drivers side, tilted the tray so that I could gain a bit of height then set about removing the head of the limb. With the roar of the two stoke engine branch after branch fell onto the tilted tray of the Beast. Although I was careful some of the branches still fell awkwardly but every one missed anything important.
Once the branches were all on the ground and out of the way I did the most important step, I moved the Beast into position. As you might recall I suggested the lowering of the Patrol was the important part, I didn’t want it to drop to the ground under gravity and risk damage which meant I had to control the descend. I started by tilting the tray to the greatest angle it would go, then reversed the Beast towards the Patrol until the tray edge was nearly touching the towbar that was buried in the ground. I then grabbed the winch cable from where it was hooked, a tree protector from where I left it, used the remote to put the winch in free spool and started to climb the tree.
Many years of misspent youth climbing gumtrees to get away from boys had given me the practise I needed to scale many trees and gum trees were one of the easiest. They might have been shallow rooted beasts that grew tall and often fell over in the wind but a healthy gum had good strong limbs and climbing them was easier than many other trees. All I had to do was pick my path and follow it where ever I needed to go.
I climbed nearly fifteen feet higher than the Patrol’s bullbar careful to make sure the winch cable stayed clear of all the branches and limbs I could, then at the fork of another large limb I feed the cable around the tree. I used the tree protector to stop the cable ring barking the tree as it dragged its way around the wood then lowered the hook towards the Patrol.
I carefully made my way down to the Patrol, climbed out onto the limb and securely attached the cable to the solid part of the bar. It wasn’t the best place to hook the cable to but I was only using it to take the weight not pull the vehicle so I had no doubt it would hold. I used the remote control to tighten the winch cable until the slack in the cable was taken up.
Checking my work was what I wanted I could see the Patrol while still held up by the branch was almost suspended by the winch cable. As soon as I cut the limb free the winch cable would take the weight and the entire load would go nowhere. Satisfied I climbed down the tree and retrieved my chainsaw.
After a quick drink and a survey of everything from the ground I was happy with what I saw so I climbed back up the tree with the chainsaw in tow. The Jeffery’s were looking on in amazement at what I was doing but to be honest it was a pretty standard rescue, it was the situation they were in that was not normal.
Cutting through the limb was the easy part, I obviously had to be careful and follow standard common sense rules for limbing a tree but it was relatively easy and when the limb was released I heard a hundred greenies cry!! No only kidding, when the limb was released the winch did exactly the job I wanted it too. The four wheel drive dropped no more than a few centimetres, the winch cable took the slack and the limb stayed wedged under the rooftop tent. With the easy part over I then had to climb down the tree and do the rest from the ground.
On the ground I slowly let the winch feed cable off the spool which allowed the front end of the Patrol to lower at almost the angle it went up on. With the full weight supported by the cable I continued to lower the vehicle until the rear wheels were touching the tilted tray. From there everything went swimmingly, I slowly lowered the front of the Patrol until the front wheels touched the tray. From there it was just a matter of reversing the vehicle slowly off the tray with the winch unspoolling until all four wheels were on the ground.
See I told you it was easy!!
Once I unhooked the winch cable and climbed the tree to retrieve it without jagging it and causing more greenies to cry I wound the cable back onto the winch and tilted the tray back to it horizontal position and quietly congratulated myself on a job well done. The Jeffery’s were more vocal with their congratulations and I’m sure they will be talking about the rescue for many years to come.
Just to make sure there was no further damage, or damage we couldn’t initially see I checked the Patrol over, apart from a few scratches and dents where the limb was, a small price to pay really, the car was in great condition and further assistance would not be required.
Previous Desert Outback story here.