Numerous drivers have tackled the BHB mudflats this year and lost – many of them have lost big time.
A late model Range Rover Evoque valued at $90,000 went for a swim in April.
Then in October it was like the lemmings headed for the sea. A late model Jeep got stuck and then so did a Land Cruiser that came to help.
Shay from Ace Heavy Haulage deployed a winch tractor which made short work of recovery, though not before the incoming tide had come up to the doors. Due to the Jeep’s excellent seals, the interior was saved from water damage.
Unbelievably, within days another car, a silver Toyota RAV4, was stuck about 380 metres out from the ramp at Lewis Street. Ace came out once more but we understand that the driver’s credit card was declined. No cash, no splash.
The driver then brought down a second vehicle, an ageing Pajero. Once it had been red, but a home spray job had given it a black look. It too got bogged down. Numerous tides went through both vehicles.
The Sunday circus saw three more “recovery” vehicles also get stuck. With great effort, these three were pulled out before the tide came in. Over 20 people, friends of the RAV driver, were engaged in this effort. They left once they had got their own cars out.
Bystander Tony commented that he was upset that they drove off leaving two broken strops on the beach, plus a car window. He removed the rubbish. Tony was also one of many people concerned about oil and fuel seeping from the flooded cars.
Importantly, the Pajero was insured but the RAV was not. This ultimately led to the Pajero being recovered by the insurance company and the RAV being abandoned. Both vehicles were in the $3,000 - $5,000 range for recovery costs. The harbourmaster eventually recovered the RAV with a small barge, so ratepayers had to cough up for that one unless the money can be extracted from the driver.
Johanna commented on Facebook, “I hope we are not all paying. Surely it is up to the ignorant owner who drove it there, then decided to leave it?”
While all this was going on, another car was stuck at Wood Bay. Tow truck driver Russell, who got the Pajero out, says he gets 4-5 similar jobs every month.
The Lewis Street driver training course will no doubt continue to lure inexperienced, over-confident drivers out to a sticky end. The bay is covered in a layer of sand which looks deceptively solid but is really more like a pie crust. Once it is penetrated, there is about half a metre of very soft mud.
The whole fiasco kept us locals entertained for days. There were over 100 bystanders on the beach watching on the Sunday.