I stood in front of the Beast with the remote for the front winch, mounted in the bullbar, in my hand and watched Matthew as he orthodoxly hooked the winch cable to the recovery point on the Nissan Patrol Lars and Coby had gotten bogged.
It was an unorthodox method because of the way he had to do it. The water wasn’t deep enough for him to duck dive and submerge himself, it was too deep to just reach down and keep his head above the surface and the boggy river bed was too soft to put his full weight on for any length of time. So what he had to do was find his position close to where he knew the recovery point was, dunk his left hand into the water and grab the second horizontal of the bullbar, the winch cable in the other hand. He then had to get a footing for his left foot on the bottom rung of the bullbar, his right foot would end up closer to the middle of the bullbar.
His aim was to almost hang himself on the bullbar like a huge spider so that when he ducked under the surface of the water he could reach underneath the vehicle and by feel find the recovery point and hook the winch to it. Without the water factor, and with the ability to see, it was a relatively easy task but I don’t want to make light of just what Matthew was doing especially given the conditions he was doing it under and saving me from having to do it.
As you might have worked out about me in all this time I’m not someone who is easily pleased, some people have to actually work for me to appreciate what they have done, it’s just the way I am. However I was totally and utterly impressed with the effort Matthew put in, especially the fact that he managed to do it in one go. Apparently he didn’t even slip with the hook, he just ducked under the water, found the recovery point instantly and slipped the hook on the end of the winch cable onto it in one smooth movement.
“Hooked!” Matthew said once his head was above water.
“In one go? Well done. Great job.” I said and meant it.
Matthew was hanging almost sitting on the partly submerged bullbar catching his breath as I took up the weight on the winch cable. Once I could feel the cable take the slack I stopped and waited for Matthew to return to the water’s edge.
Now I know that you’ve probably seen Youtube videos of someone recovering a vehicle and either the person with the winch control, or someone else is sitting on the bullbar enjoying the ride. If you haven’t seen it don’t bother looking because it’s one of the silliest moves you can make, especially for a pull like we were going to do that would put a lot of stress on the winch cable.
You see if the winch cable snaps it will only recoil in two directions, back to the winch and back to the recovery point. Simple physics tells us that much, common sense tells us that being in that path, for instance sitting on the bullbar, is a stupid move. On Youtube you’d also get keyboard warriors suggesting that the water would stop that sort of recoil, however our hope was to get the vehicle out of the water so I’m sure you can figure out the problem with that kind of thinking. It’s the same reason that the cable we didn’t have in the water had a dampner blanket over it.
So what have I just taught you? Dampners when winching are important. Water is no substitute for dampners. There is no room for YouTube sense in the real world and most importantly stand off to the side whenever there is a winch cable under tension.
Matthew stepped up onto the river bank, his shirt, shorts and shoes were dripping wet. Yes, I said shoes because he’s not stupid he knew that it’s far better to have wet shoes, which will dry in the hot Western Australian sun, than feet cut to shreds because he went bare foot into water that was too murky to see to the river bottom.
With all four of us, Lars and Coby included, off to the side I began to recover the Patrol. The first few seconds where the Beast had to pull the front of the Nissan up and over the mounds that would have built up in front of the large baggy tyres were a little nerve racking.
My eyes were firmly set on the front wheels of the Beast, I didn’t need to be looking at the Patrol, the winch cable or the water, sounds told me what I wanted to know there, and there was three other people around me that would be watching those things. No I was watching the front wheels for any minute movement because the instant those front wheel began skidding forward it meant the bogged Patrol was pulling the Beast towards the water.
Despite the front tyres skidding a few inches we did get that Patrol over the first hitch. I was actually right on the verge of stopping because of the tyres skidding when Matthew told me the front wheels were coming up, had his words been two seconds later I would have stopped. However I didn’t need to and within a few minutes we had a drenched Nissan Patrol sitting in front of the Beast, still hooked via the winch cable, with water pouring out the closed doors, so much for door seals!
Previous Desert Rescue story here.