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A Girl and a Winch

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During a temperate spring day on 8,600 acres of non-standard woods in Orange, Virginia, I learned about vehicle self-recovery. I had no idea I would learn so much and actually enjoy myself.

A small group gathered around to get the day’s agenda from Garrett and J.B. of Overland Experts (OEX), an off-road and overland training company that offers various curriculum for both civilians and military personnel. While most of us on this day were civilians, there were a couple of military guys who threw their muscle into the day’s effort.

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First up, a brief overview of the three main recovery kits and essential equipment: Kinetic Rope, Winch and Hi-Lift Jack.

Each recovery type has its pros and cons when it comes to safety and speed.  And the choice of which one to use depends on the kind of recovery situation.

If I find myself stuck somewhere off-road, I should first secure my vehicle.  Then I can assess the situation.  And finally, this assessment will determine the appropriate recovery option.  It sounds like common sense, but if faced with a recovery need, I think many of us would go straight to burning up our winch, even if a simple tow with a high quality strap would have done the job fine.

I’m not going to try to teach the class here in this writing.  My advice — contact OEX and take the class yourself.  Or, find something similar in your area.

The really interesting part of the day came with actual demonstrations of each recovery type.  I have to admit, I was a chicken when it came to participating.  I silently observed, even as another female participant took the bull by the horns in both the winch and Hi-Lift jack demonstrations.

However, it was cool to realize that with a healthy understanding of recovery points and Hi-Lift technique, even I could lift a Land Cruiser just enough to get a recovery in motion.

Generally speaking, the OEX facility was great and the staff very much the experts they claim to be.

What I’d like to emphasize is that vehicle self-recovery is not funny business.  Safety and security for driver and passenger come first.  Each recovery situation poses different risks and a responsible vehicle owner needs to be aware of his/her vehicle’s capabilities and limitations, the current recovery situation, and the safest and quickest way to self-recover under a variety of circumstances.

By the end of our day, I felt more confident about what vehicle self-recovery truly meant.  And I had a better understanding of the most safe and efficient means of getting it done.  I even pictured myself having a vehicle and winch my husband could envy.  Imagine a girl and her winch on an adventure.

For now, I’m okay with the knowledge I gained from this training day.

For more information, check out OEX at www.overlandexperts.com.

- Special thanks to Geraldine Grady for her contribution of this article and photos

Related – Driving Skills: Left Foot Braking

* Published by JPFreek Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.

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