So you went for a bit of overlanding or off-roading and now you are bogged. Nobody wants to be in this position, it’s awful lucky for you, you have your trusty winch to get you out of this mess. However, this piece of equipment is extremely complex and dangerous to use. As result, we at Adventure Afrika have compiled a series of tips that can make your winching experience safe, calm and effective.
When you find yourself bogged, the most important thing to do before any recovery is to secure your vehicle. This means that you have to be able to exit the vehicle without it rolling away or tipping over. So put on your handbrake, keep your vehicle in gear and if possible put a chock behind the wheel. Most importantly get your passengers out and to a good safe distance away from the recovery.
As soon as your vehicle is safe and secure get out and remember to remain calm. Don’t rush anything and take a moment to assess the situation. The first thing you need to find is a safe and solid anchor point, an anchor point is a secure and sturdy point which as the name suggest will act as an anchor. Normally a tree or a large boulder are good examples. Just be aware of two things when choosing an anchor. Ask yourself the following when choosing an anchor point: Can this thing take nearly 8 tonnes of force? Remember when your vehicle is bogged down it weighs nearly double its normal weight and thus you need nearly 6 to 8 tonnes to get free.
So obviously don’t use a small brush or a stone as an anchor. The best example for an anchor is actually a lead vehicle or a steel anchor you can bury in the ground. When you use something that’s part of nature be sure to try and not harm it. A good piece of kit to help with this is a tree trunk protector, it prevents the killing of an innocent tree. Secondly, look for points where you can find traction again this is after all that you want to achieve when performing a recovery. Look for turf with less sand, water or mud remember dry and flat is what you need. You just need to winch to a point where you have traction. If you can get yourself to a point where you can simply drive away then stop winching.
When you identified your anchor point and your patch of traction you want to winch to. Make sure your winch is secure this means that if it fails it won’t swing around and hit someone. It is important to note that when a winch cable does snap it can be extremely violent and can lead to severe or even fatal injuries. To stop this from happening you can put an air damper on the cable. Your 4×4 shop will usually sell them and they act like a parachute which forces it to the ground if it does fail. You don’t have to buy one because you can use a tow rope, your snatch rope and even your jacket as an air damper. You can also open your bonnet as an extra piece of protection and when winching you as the driver should always remain in the vehicle.
A few extra tips: you should always wear protective gloves, before going on a trip make sure that your cable isn’t damaged in anyway and when you spool your winch back up after use make sure that you do it in an equal pattern distributed from left to right.
Now you have the necessary knowledge for safe and effective winching. Always be careful and responsible when recovering.