Beach driving

AUSTRALIA is the world’s only island continent and as such we are surrounded by water and sandy beaches.

If we’re boating on water or driving on sand we want to stay on top of both elements.

Boating is quite easy, we just have to be floating on the water not sinking down into it and driving on sand is essentially the same principle .

Driving on sand can be tough work for some, while others do it with ease, often with a boat or camper in tow.

A trip to a 4WD mecca such as Fraser Island and one can see the difference between a seasoned sand driver and a newbie who has little or no idea.

Inskip Point is notorious for getting bogged in the sand as 4WD-ers try to make it to the ferry which will ultimately deliver them Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island stretching over 120kms along the Queensland coast. 

Why do some vehicles effortlessly glide across the sand while others sink into the sand?

Number one here is choice of tyres and air pressure. Each vehicle will be different depending on vehicle weight and loading .

Tyres should be of a pattern more in keeping with an All Terrain or even Highway Terrain and leave those big aggressive mud terrain tyres to what they were designed for and that is digging their way out of the mud.

Before venturing onto the sand you should air down your tyres, remember you want to float the same as a boat, you don’t want to sink.

A good starting point will be around 20 to 25 psi and then adjustments made from there.

Again your vehicle and loading will dictate what the sweet spot is for the condition of sand you’re tackling.

You may start at say 20 psi and still struggle in soft dry sand and air down again. The sweet spot may be 15 psi and the vehicle will now float on the sand more easily.

Some drivers will attack their sand driving venture with little or no thought as to the gear they should carry in case things go wrong.

The popular destinations are probably the best ones to visit if this is you as there will mostly be someone to help out when it all goes bad.

Gear worth carrying

Number one for me is a high volume air compressor as the absolute best technique for sand driving is to air down so your tyres bulge in their part deflated state giving you a bigger, longer footprint on the sand which helps you to float rather than cut through the sand and bog.

The next bit of kit worth having is a shovel. If it does go pear shaped and you have sunk until the diffs are resting on the sand, you need to do some shovel work and a long handle shovel makes this easier.

Recovery trax adorn experienced sand drivers 4WDs , these are just so easy to use. They’re hard durable plastic tracks that can help you get traction and drive yourself out of a predicament. 

Snatch straps are useful if there is another vehicle to attach the other end to. Any fair dinkum 4WD-er will have a snatch in the vehicle somewhere. 

Hi Lift jacks come into their own, especially if fitted with a wheel lift kit which are heavy straps and hooks that hook onto the wheels.

The hi lift jack with a suitable base plate, either a good solid flat block of wood, or the shovel at a pinch, and the bogged wheel can be lifted up out of the sand, the hole filled in, and a recovery track placed underneath.

Bull bags are another bit of gear that can lift vehicles clear of bogs. These are heavy duty rubber type bags that once installed under a bogged vehicle are inflated with the exhaust from a vehicle.

Vehicles operating remotely should have a winch and be competent in the method of burying your spare tyre and using that as an anchor point to winch yourself out of trouble. 

Vehicles operating in the section between high and low tide flirt with danger.

The next bogged vehicle lost to a rising tide won’t be the first nor will it be the last.

It’s best just to stay on top of things!

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