Where was I? Oh yeah in the Aussie outback I remember now. Only kidding, I knew where I was, I was just seeing if you were paying attention.
If you remember I was heading out to help Nick the policeman, he’d rung me from Murphey’s track, out near the burnt skeletal trees that kind of looked like weird black hands with gangly fingers sticking out of the ground. He’d rung me and told me there was a four wheel drive that had sunk into sink hole and needed me to pull it out. He hadn’t told me why he was out there, and I didn’t ask, but he did tell me he’d wait on site until I arrived.
I wasn’t long off the track that was named after Mr. Murphey and following Nick’s tyre tracks when I spotted both the blackened trees and Nick standing not far away from his police issue Toyota Landcrusier. I couldn’t see any other vehicle in the immediate area and was wondering where the vehicle that needed towing was when I realised there was a reason I couldn’t see another vehicle.
I pulled up next to Nick, opened the window and just laughed at him.
“I’m glad you find it funny!” he said to me over the idling engine of the Beast.
“Are we going to have to rename the track to Nick’s track?” I said still laughing, just not as loud.
“If you’re finished laughing how about actually helping me?”
Despite showing a little annoyance in his voice Nick wasn’t that grumpy, he knew well before I arrived what sort of reaction he’d get when I saw his Landcruiser stuck in the sand, it’s the same sort of reaction I’d expect from him if I did something humorous. After a few more little back and fourths between the two of us I turned off the Beast and climbed out onto the red desert sands to inspect exactly what was before me.
The situation was exactly as I explained to you not long back, Nick had simply been parked in the right place at the wrong time and before he knew what was happening the earth was sinking below him. Like I said before the sink hole is just a bit of shifting sand, not a massive hole to the middle of the earth like you might see nearer to the coast line. They could develop from strong gusts of wind of which we get some real doozies out here. They could be created from earth tremors, we get more of them out here than you might think to, the big difference out here is no one is around to feel them. It could also just be something natural in the landscape, which you can read as “something I can’t explain”. Whatever the reason they happen and Nick just happened to park over the the spot where one occurred.
I might have suggested that such rescues are relatively easy rescues and they are ninety five percent of the time but because of that five percent I never took anything for granted. Obviously the best option would be to pull the vehicle straight out, either forward or backward, but there was no way I was just going to assume the ground was solid enough for me to park on, I was going to check it out on foot and check it thoroughly before I did anything.
After nearly twenty minutes of wandering around the scene I decided the rescue was going to be as straight forward as it looked. The ground appeared solid and I would not need to wind excessive amounts of winch cable out to preform the rescue, I was even going to be able to pull him straight out from the front.
One of the strange things about our sink holes out in the desert is that once they sink they are relatively solid underneath. There is often quite a lot of fine loose sand on top which makes it hard to pull the vehicle out under it’s own steam but they aren’t loose enough that we are going to lose the vehicle or ourselves when we step near the vehicle.
With the Beast in position I grabbed the remote for the winch and slowly wound the winch off the spool as Nick pulled it along the tray and out towards his four wheel drive. Although he was relatively clued up on how to preform a rescue Nick didn’t do anything when he got the winch cable to the front of his vehicle, he waited for me to get there. Within a few minutes I had the front of the vehicle hooked up and was standing at the back of the Beast with the remote control.
Like I said Nick was pretty clued up and with minimal words about what needed to be done he knew that his job while I slowly wound the winch in was to sit in the driver’s seat of his four wheel drive and gently keep power to all four wheel. His job wasn’t to let the wheels spin, simply allow the wheels to help, even in a small way, pull the vehicle out as the winch did most of the work.
Nick’s job does sound kind of easy but I assure you it’s not simple, the difference between feathering the loud pedal and assisting the winch and making tyres which are already teetering on the very edge of spinning in the fine sand is so small that it does take quite a lot of concentration. Even someone with expert car and throttle control can make a slight error and let the wheels slip, but it does take someone with such skills to realise it before it’s too late because the more the wheels spin deeper the hole becomes.
Although Nick let the wheels spin a few times it wasn’t enough to hamper things too much and within five minutes we had Nick’s four wheel drive sitting on solid ground directly behind the Beast. Five minutes after that we were unhooked and the winch was wound up.
“Send the bill to the usual department!” Nick said to me as we leaned on the tray of the Beast chatting.
“You mean this is going through the books?”
“Yeah of course.”
“You’re not worried that the story might get out and the locals call to rename the track?” I said with a smile.
“Of course not, because I know what happened.”
“Yeah but I’m going to beat you back to town and forty minutes is a long time to come up with a story that didn’t happen, but makes you look bad!”
“Yeah but I know you Dean, you’re to nice to do that too me.” I smiled wondering if I really was, he then continued. “Besides I’m on police business.”
“Of course you are, you’re a cop, remember.”
“Thanks for the heads up Einstein, would you like to be serious for a minute?”
“Yeah, why not!” I said with a smile. “Watcha up to Mr. Policeman?”
“Searching for some ill gotten booty. Wanna help?”
Previous Desert Rescue story here.