GUEST BLOG: The Great November Unbogging

Welcome to Lisa Herbert from The Bottom Drawer Book. Lisa had a little bogging incident near Broome…here’s her story. Well worth the read and full of useful tips for us Lady 4WDers.

It certainly wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

After a great weekend camping and was heading back into Broome but decided at the last minute to
do a little bit of exploring on my way home. I followed old tyre tracks on sand in an area I didn’t know and where there wasn’t a clear path.
While I was in 4-high (high range 4WD), my tyres were still on road pressure. Up until that point I’d had no dramas so I was a little bit over-confident and obviously lazy.

I felt myself hit the soft sand and knew I’d be in trouble if I kept going. So I whacked the Hilux into
low range and started reversing. I’d got in that way so I was hoping I could get out that way.
Er … Nope. I carry a fair bit of weight over my rear axle so my rear tyres weren’t able to lead the way.
I had successfully reversed about six metres before she started digging in. I was going nowhere. And
it was my fault. *Insert forehead slap here.

I had three choices.
1. Keep trying to reverse. Spinning my wheels would have been dumb. No matter how hard I
hit that accelerator she wouldn’t go anywhere other than further down into the sand.
2. Try rocking forwards and backwards. That is, go forwards a metre, go back a metre, trying to
get some momentum.
3. Stop. Swear. Get out of the car. Assess the situation. Swear some more.

I went for Option 3.

On this occasion I didn’t try #2. There was no point. I was foolishly running my tyres at 40psi. (It
hurts to admit that!) Any further attempts to drive out of there would have only resulted in my
wheels digging deeper into the soft sand. Besides, I was pretty confident that with some preparation
I’d be able to get myself out of there.

LESSON #1. Stop immediately when you realise you’re bogged. You’ll only make things harder for
yourself later on when you try and dig your vehicle out if you don’t.

Okay. You’re stuck. Now what?

Take your time to work out how you’re going to approach your situation. It can be overwhelming
when you’re realise you’re in a bit of trouble but a cool head is critical. Take a deep breath and apply
the “oh well” rule. Getting flustered and angry or worried or screaming at your partner isn’t going to
help. I mostly travel solo so screaming at someone else isn’t going to work. Damn.
It was bloody hot and humid when I got stuck, east of Broome. Two people had died of heat
exhaustion in WA in the week prior. One was a hiker at Kalbarri, the second was a well-prepared
motorcyclist on the Gibb River Road. Getting out of a bog can be long, hard, physical work. Heat
exhaustion is a serious threat and I was keen to avoid it.

Despite being foolish with my tyre pressure, I redeem myself a little by carrying some essentials in
my vehicle at all times. A hat, sunscreen and at least 20 litres of water are permanent features. And
there’s usually a bottle of scotch in there for when I’m really in trouble.

Before I started the Great Sand Unbogging of November 4, I lathered on sunscreen and put on my
hat. I put my water where it was easily accessible so I could have regular water breaks.
LESSON # 2. Slip, slop, slap and slurp.
LESSON # 3. Sips of water don’t cut it. The experts say you need a glass of water every time.
LESSON # 4. Take a photo for use on social media for when you’re back at camp and feeling a lot
better about your situation.
LESSON # 5. Tell someone what’s happening, if possible. I was in phone range so I rang a friend, sent
him the photo and discussed my plan with him. He wasn’t particularly helpful when he asked if I had
a winch. He knows I don’t have a winch and the photos clearly show a lack of bloody trees to attach
my non-existent winch to. *Insert face palm here.

My plan for the Great Unbogging of November 4, 2018 was a text book plan. It was text book bog in
soft sand. It was all pretty straight forward.
1. Drop my tyre pressure.
2. Dig out the sand behind all four tyres.
3. Put my recovery boards/MaxTrax behind the rear tyres.
4. Reverse out.
5. Vow never to drive on sand again without dropping my tyre pressure.
6. Take photo to prove the Great Unbogging of November 4 was a success and, in some small
way, redeem my credibility after stupidly get stuck in the first place.

The most important thing you need to know about driving on sand is don’t be lazy like I was. PUT
YOUR BLOODY TYRES DOWN. By lowering your tyre pressure, the more the tyre is able to spread out
on the sand, giving you a longer surface for traction.
On sand I usually run my tyres at about 13-15psi. Sure, ask ten people about what tyre pressure they
run and they’ll all give you different answers because tyre size and vehicle loads all vary. The prime
objective however is to maximise the length of your tyre so it behaves more like a track on a
bulldozer or tank. You can go down to 10psi apparently if you’re in real strife but I’ve never done
that. Keep in mind that running low pressures in your tyres increase the risk of rolling your tyres off
their rims and exposes the side wall to more potential damage from sharp objects. Avoid cornering
and sharp turns and it shouldn’t be a problem.

If you don’t have a pressure gauge, another rule of thumb is to decrease the wall height of the tyre
by 1/3, and you will be very close to maximising its length.
LESSON #6. Always carry a pressure gauge. Mine cost $10.

You can’t dig out your tyres if you don’t have anything to dig with. Always carry a shovel of some
sort. Shovelling sand isn’t too bad. Shovelling mud is the worst thing ever so a pissy little spade
won’t cut it. Buy your shovel accordingly.

My rear tyres needed my attention most. They were the ones that were going to save the day/save
my arse. But they were also the tyres that were buried the deepest – no surprise there because of
the weight of my canopy.
So I dug the sand out from my back tyres and laid my recovery boards (or MaxTrax) firmly against my
tread. The boards work best when not laid flat, instead protruding at an angle. That will guide your
tyre onto the top of the sand (whether it stays there is another thing…).
So I’d let my tyres down, dug out the sand from around all four tyres and laid my recovery boards
behind my rear tyres. The hard work was done and took less than half an hour. (The last bogging I
was involved with took 6 people, 2 shovels, a winch, an airbag, 4 maxtrax, 2 snatch pulls and 5 hours
to rectify. (In Top End mud, not my vehicle).
I walked my escape route and worked out that the best place for me to reverse was on the path I
had driven in on. I’d planned to follow my tracks until the sand was relatively solid again – about 25
metres. There were no obstacles that I had to dodge.
All going to plan, my low tyre pressure would give my tyres lots of traction on my recovery boards
and I’d be on my way.
I started the engine, took a breath, checked I was still in low range, put her in reverse and
accelerated slowly. The slow wheel rotation allows your tyre to grip your boards. If it doesn’t work,
stop and reposition your boards. You may even have to dig some more to ensure the boards are
firmly wedged against your tyre. Spinning your wheels now would only wreck your boards and dig
you further in.
My tyres gripped my boards easily and the Hilux reversed effortlessly.

I drove out of the sand and once I was on solid ground I used my trusty air compressor to pump my
tyres back up.
No heat stroke, no hissy fits, no damage (except to my pride) and no scotch required.
Phew. Time to go home!


Lisa Herbert is houseless not homeless. She’s been travelling around the country and living life on
the road for about three years, occasionally filling short-term contracts for the ABC in places like
Kalgoorlie, Broome, Tamworth and Darwin.

She’s the author of funeral planning guide ‘The Bottom Drawer Book: an after death action plan’
Lisa enjoys blogging about the unusual graves, memorials and cemeteries she finds on her travels.
Get in touch with Lisa via Facebook or follow
her travels on Instagram




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