Beaches; how good are they? That’s rhetorical. They’re so good we’re prepared to tow all our favourite toys down them to make sure we have the best time ever. Over the following few sentences, I’m going to describe different scenarios so that search engine bots know what this beach towing advice article is about and so direct your queries to it. Please forgive the awkwardness… Maybe you like to tow caravans on sand for a week camped by the sea. Do you prefer towing an off-road camper trailer on the beach so you can rough it with mates? Would you like to launch a boat from the beach so you can find new fishing grounds. Maybe you’re wondering how not to get bogged towing on the sand.
Thank goodness that’s done with, and we can get into some actual useful information for humans who’ll actually do this stuff. I’m also going to assume your trailer is off-road ready. If you’re not sure, it’s probably not.
1. Don’t believe the hype
Trailers, in general, are big, cumbersome, heavy, dead weights. No matter how epic the sales brochure and Youtube clips made it look, no trailer will ever make towing on the sand easier. If you understand that, you probably won’t get into too much trouble. Also, read this article about how not to get bogged driving on the sand for the basics.
2. Plan ahead
Aim to be driving on the beach as the tide is going down. If you’re tackling Fraser Island, hoping to get to Indian Head or Ocean Beach up north, you’ll probably need four or five hours, so aim to get there at least three hours before low tide, so you don’t get trapped by rising water. For shorter trips along beaches like Teewah Beach near Noosa, aim to do your driving in the hour before low tide, when the beach is super wide, flat and firm. Also, don’t park your car and trailer below the low-tide mark and then go out in your boat or for a walk expecting the ground to still be dry when you get back.
3. Air down
Just because the wheels aren’t powered by the engine, or actually, specifically because of it, you need to let air out of all the trailer tyres. If you keep the pumped up, they will dig into the sand and so you will be hauling the trailer through it, rather than over it. There’s no specific figure, but if you find you’re lurching to a stop when you ease of the accelerator, you’ve probably got too much air in the tyres. Start below 15psi, and go down from there if needed. While you’re at it, dial the electric brakes down a little bit, so they don’t ‘bite’ so hard to cause your trailer wheels to lock up.
4. Take it easy – don’t do anything suddenly.
This is especially important if you have a large trailer, like a caravan. If you accelerate suddenly, your wheels will likely dig into the sand and you’ll get bogged, so take off nice and slowly to avoid any wheel spin. When it comes time to slow down, give yourself plenty of room so you don’t need to use the brakes very much at all. Similarly, avoid sharp turns, heavy swerves or hectic dough-nuts (yes, I’ve seen it, it always ends badly). All of those things are recipes for disaster.
5. When launching a boat, have backup
Launching a boat off the beach is daunting for anyone who’s not got a lot of experience doing it, and even seasoned salty’s get bogged occasionally. Fishing Monthly has a great article on the topic. If there’s a big swell, don’t bother, but look for a more protected area. Usually, the southern end of beaches are protected from prevailing southerly swells, so that’s a good place to look. Have the boat unhooked from the trailer winch as you reverse down, with a mate holding a bow rope to keep things steady. As soon as the boat is off, get your mate to turn the bow to the swell. Reverse a little before going back up the beach so you’re not driving straight into the little mounds of sand that’s likely built up in front of the wheels.
6. Be prepared to get stuck.
You’re more than doubling the likelihood of getting stuck, towing a trailer on the beach, so be prepared. Carry good quality recovery gear, and be prepared to unhitch the 4WD to recover the trailer if need be. There are some great products out there to help with the job.
Got a tip to make towing on the beach easier? Let us know in the comments
Planning some epic travel? Get stocked up on the maps that’ll get you off the beaten tracks, and help us keep bringing awesome beach driving info.