Launching and retrieving a boat can be tricky at the best of times, especially in adverse weather or water conditions. This is doubly true if you’re launching a boat solo. The thing is though, any true fisherman will know that sometimes flying solo is the best option!
It’s possible, with the right gear, to launch practically any boat solo if you’ve prepared properly. Of course, the smaller your boat is, the easier it will be to launch. In years past, trial and error and LOTS of practice was the only way to become a pro at launching and retrieving your boat solo. These days, we’re lucky… there’s some neat kit out there that has been specifically designed to assist you in your boat launch and retrieval, namely, the Ezi-Guide Boat Retrieval System.
What is the Ezi-Guide Boat Retrieval System?
In a nutshell, Ezi-Guide Boat Retrieval is a self-aligning boat loading and launching system which can be used in launching your boat and either winch-assisted or drive-assisted retrievals and will always guide your boat safely to the centre of your trailer. The system allows you to launch and load your boat solo, and assists in avoiding to load your boat off the rollers which can damage your boat and your trailer. They also mitigate the need to have a spotter ensuring that you align the boat with the trailer perfectly, and can also make loading in adverse conditions such as wind and strong currents a lot easier.
Exi-Guide features an easy-to-install U-Bolt Ezi-Mount mounting system, which means there’s no power tools or drilling required. In fact, all you need to install Ezi-Guide is a 19mm socket or spanner and a marking pen. The Ezi-Guide boat loader suits trailers with both 50mm and 75mm cross members. For detailed installation instructions, have a read of the step-by-step installation guide here.
ARK’S Step-By-Step Guide to Launching your Boat Solo (With Ezi-Guide!)
So you’ve got your boat on the trailer, ready to head out on the weekend, and you get a call from your mate at the last moment – the missus is crook, and he can’t make it. Better cancel the trip, right? Wrong! If you have an Ezi-Guide, then launching your boat solo is very achievable… and we’re going to show you just how achievable! How to launch a boat solo is as easy as following this step-by-step guide, which’ll have you hitting the water solo in no time!
Take the Cautious Approach
It might go without saying, but without someone there to spot any problems that may arise while you launch your boat, you’ll need to be extra vigilant in ensuring you get everything right. You’ll want to assess the conditions of the ramp so you know what to be wary of, whether it’s a strong current or hidden debris.
Remove Tie Downs and Place Bungs
Double check that all tie-down straps have been removed, and remember your bungs. The last thing you want is to have forgotten a strap, or to start taking on water because a bung hasn’t been replaced.
Lineup Your Boat on the Ramp
Reverse your trailer and boat down the ramp, being extra cautious as to your surroundings. It’s important to only reverse your trailer into the water to the point that the last keel roller is level with the water. Any deeper, and the Ezi-Guide system won’t be as effective. Once you’ve reversed to the unload point, you’ll need to hop out and (possibly) get your feet wet!
Once the boat and trailer is in position, you’ll want to unclip everything, including the safety. During this step it’s important to be wary of how your boat is going to react, especially if the ramp is a steep one. Some trailers with a lot of rollers will mean your boat will want to slide, so be ready for anything.
Board your boat and check your surrounds
Hop on board your boat, and check down behind it prior to starting the engine. You’ll want to be extra cautious for swimmers, or debris or anything that may cause problems.
Trim Your Engine
Trim your engine down, but be cautious of going too far. Remembering that the water is most likely very shallow here, if you happen to trim your engine too far down you risk hitting the bottom and causing damage.
Start the engine, and hit reverse. The trick here is to not give it too much power. You want to give it just enough revs for the boat to begin sliding off the rollers.
Guided by Ezi-Guide
The beauty of having Ezi-Guide installed is that you don’t have to worry about the angle or any slippage – Ezi-Guide will do that for you. Simply hit reverse and let Ezi-Guide do its thing, and before you know it you’ll be in the water!
Tie off the Boat and Park Your Trailer
Now the boat is in the water, you’ll want to tie it off at the dock, head back to the ramp and park your trailer and tow vehicle so the tramp is clear for the next user.
Hit the Water!
And with that, you’ve successfully launched your boat solo! It’s time to hit the water.
Where to go for more information?
When it comes to hitting the water in your boat, ARK are the proven experts. They’ve been leaders in trailer parts, towing gear and 4WD accessories for over 40 years, are 100% Australian owned and independent.
The best part? They love to hit the water just like you! A typical weekend for Ark members includes getting the boat out and wetting a line, as well as tackling some of the more remote boating spots around the country. So you can be sure that when you buy a product from Ark, you’re getting something that has been properly tried and tested in real Aussie conditions!
If you’ve never been to the stunning Coffs coast, then you really need to take a look at your life choices! Coffs Harbour is one of Australia’s ultimate 4WD destinations, with some of the best beach camping you’ll do anywhere in the country, and some of the most challenging 4WD tracks you’ll get the opportunity to challenge.
Despite the scenic stretches and untapped beauty that go hand-in-hand with Coffs Harbour camping, getting there and making your way through the off-road parts can be tricky. Think soft sand combined with beachside water and you’ve got a bog just waiting to happen. This is why travelling with a winch is an absolute must when traversing the stunning Coffs Harbour area in your 4WD. Not only will a winch keep you safe, but it will also make your adventure much more streamlined and enjoyable.
In this blog, we’ll provide tips, tricks, and must-dos for winch safety, as well as outline some of the best Coffs Harbour camping & 4WD hotspots to put on your list.
Exploring Coffs Harbour’s Scenic Camping Spots
Nestled along the New South Wales coastline, Coffs Harbour is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of breathtaking camping and 4WD destinations. While Pebbly Beach may steal the spotlight, this coastal gem has a treasure trove of other camping spots and trails that are equally captivating.
Diggers Beach is a haven for campers who seek a serene escape while remaining close to civilization. With its proximity to Coffs Harbour’s amenities, it’s an ideal starting point for those new to camping or 4WD adventures. Here, you’ll find picturesque coastal vistas, pristine sandy shores, and a range of scenic walking tracks.
Sawtell Beach, just a short drive south of Coffs Harbour, beckons campers with its laid-back charm. Set up camp amid the coastal vegetation and enjoy the stunning ocean views. The nearby Sawtell village offers a charming mix of cafes and boutiques, making it a perfect blend of nature and local culture.
Boambee Creek Reserve
For those who prefer a more secluded camping experience, Boambee Creek Reserve is a hidden gem. Tucked away in a lush, subtropical rainforest setting, this camping spot offers tranquility and a sense of being at one with nature. Accessible only by 4WD, it’s a great opportunity to test your vehicle’s capabilities.
When it comes to Coffs Harbour campsites, there’s one in particular that you’ve probably read about in 4WD magazines and seen on 4WD TV shows plenty of times: Pebbly Beach in the Yuraygir National Park, just north of Coffs Harbour.
There’s a valid reason why this campsite gets so much attention. Not only does it have one of the most stunning stretches of coastline to set up your camper trailer or roll out your swag, but it’s an adventure just getting there!
Just How Tough is it Getting to Pebbly Beach?
There’s no two ways about it – Pebbly Beach is no walk in the park. This is a 4WD-only campsite, tailor-made for swags, tents, and well-equipped off-road trailers. Taking a full-sized caravan down this path? Well, you’d have to be as bold as a roo in the headlights to attempt that!
Getting to Pebbly Beach is an adventure in itself. You’ll need to navigate through some serious beachfront driving, cruising through soft sands like a seasoned pro. Then, it’s time to tackle a soft sand track through the foreshore that leads you to a saltwater estuary. Sounds simple, right? But there’s a catch – you can only cross this estuary at low tide! Nature’s clock is your guide.
Once you’ve conquered the salty creek, there’s still a fair bit of sand track driving ahead. Depending on the conditions, you might face gnarly washouts and all sorts of obstacles. But hold on tight, because the journey is worth every bit of effort.
When you finally reach the campsite, you’ll see why adventurers like you embark on this epic journey. Picture this: She-oak lined grassy sites, top-notch toilet facilities, and direct beach access that’s second to none. The beach itself earned its name from its unique coarse, pebbly sand, making it a haven for surfing, swimming, fishing, and whale watching. Pebbly Beach isn’t just a destination; it’s a slice of paradise you have to experience to believe!
So, if you’re up for the challenge, gear up, and let the rugged beauty of Pebbly Beach take your breath away. After all, nothing great ever comes easy, and this adventure is the stuff of legends!
Why a Winch is Essential for Coffs Harbour Camping & 4WD
You’re probably reading this thinking, ‘Okay, a bit of soft sand, a water crossing – sounds fun, but do I REALLY need a winch?’ Great question, and as a team who have been stuck in the soft sand of Pebbly Beach ourselves, our answer is a firm ‘yes’!
The pebbly nature of the sand makes getting bogged a very undesirable circumstance. Essentially, once you’re bogged at Pebbly Beach, you’ll want to avoid trying to drive yourself out. This is because every time your 4WD wheels spin in that sand, they’re digging you in deeper until you’re so deep that a suction effect happens. Once this takes effect, even snatching yourself out becomes a hairy task.
Our advice? Arm yourself and your vehicle with a durable, quality winch before setting foot (or wheel) on Pebbly Beach.
A winch, securely mounted on your vehicle’s front end, is a powerful tool that can pull you out of even the stickiest situations. When the going gets tough and the wheels start to spin, you can rely on your winch to anchor your 4WD and give it the pull it needs to get back on solid ground.
Having a winch is not just about the convenience of self-recovery, either; it’s about safety and self-sufficiency. Pebbly Beach’s remote location means that assistance may not be readily available. With a winch, you have the means to extricate your 4WD and continue your adventure, ensuring that your Pebbly Beach experience remains memorable for all the right reasons.
So, as you gear up for your Pebbly Beach adventure for a bit of Coffs Harbour camping, make sure your trusty winch is in prime condition. It’s not just a piece of equipment; it’s your ticket to conquering the rugged beauty of this remarkable destination. When the going gets tough, your winch will be there to pull you through, ensuring your journey is filled with awe-inspiring vistas, not bogged-down frustrations.
Why a 9000lbs Winch is a Necessary bit of Kit
Now, you may be wondering what type of winch is best suited for this kind of rough off-roading trip. Or you might be feeling pretty chuffed with the winch you’ve already got. Before you get going, though, let’s take a look at the best (and really the only) winch that will get you through the terrain of Pebbly Beach and other Coffs Harbour camping & 4WD tracks: a 9000lbs winch.
Having your 4WD equipped with a 9000lbs winch will ensure that you can slowly drag your way out of that suction pit onto the top of the sand, without spinning wheels and digging in deeper. The good part about the tracks leading into Pebbly is that they give you a number of options of places to winch from, too. As previously mentioned there are plenty of she-oaks lining the foreshore that you could run a winch strap around. Of course, it’s always wise to be travelling in a convoy, so being able to winch from another 4WD is ideal. Another option is to carry a sand anchor. These smart little devices are designed to dig into the sand to give you something to winch from.
Another thing to remember is that it’s important that your winch is a powerful 9000lbs one, like ARK’s XO Series 9000lbs Winch. As mentioned, getting stuck in the sand will have a suctioning effect on your 4WD which means your winch will be working overtime to pull you out, especially if you’re towing a camper trailer. Having that power is the best way to ensure your winch can do the job!
Other Reasons a Winch is the Perfect Bit of Kit for Coffs
Coffs Harbour has been called a ‘4WD Mecca’, and for good reason; there are hundreds of tracks for all levels of ability on offer from the relatively tame National Park tracks around Yuraygir to the infamous England Track which is only for those with a lot of experience and a heavily modified 4WD!
Having a winch installed on your 4WD gives you peace of mind when you’re tackling Coffs Harbour’s tough tracks, and it really is a versatile piece of recovery gear that every 4WD should be equipped with – especially if they’re planning on Coffs Harbour camping.
ARK’S XO Series 9000lbs Winch
Our XO Series 9000lbs Winch has been tried and tested on Australia’s toughest tracks by the team at ARK. It features a rated line pull of over 4 tonnes, a 3-stage planetary gear train with a 5.2hp motor, synthetic rope for ease of use and added strength and an aluminium fairlead to look the part.
If you’re planning to explore some of the gnarlier tracks that Australia has to offer, then talk to the team at ARK to see how an XO Series Winch is the ideal bit of kit for you.
Winch Safety Tips for Your Coffs Harbour Camping Adventure
When you’re gearing up for an off-road adventure in the rugged beauty of Coffs Harbour, having a reliable winch can be a game-changer. However, it’s essential to remember that a winch is a powerful tool that requires careful handling to ensure both your safety and the safety of those around you. Here are some winch safety tips to keep in mind as you embark on your Coffs Harbour camping expedition:
1. Know your winch inside out: Before you hit the trails, take the time to familiarize yourself with your winch and its operation. Read the user manual thoroughly, understand the controls, and practice using it in a safe and controlled environment. Knowledge is your best ally when it comes to winch safety.
2. Use proper safety gear: When operating a winch, ensure you and anyone assisting you are wearing appropriate safety gear. This includes gloves, sturdy footwear, and eye protection. These precautions are essential to protect against potential hazards like flying debris or tensioned cables.
3. Keep clear of the cable: When winching, always keep a safe distance from the winch cable or rope. Never place any part of your body near the cable path or allow others to do so. In case of a cable failure, the recoiling cable can be extremely dangerous.
4. Use a dampener: When winching, especially in recovery situations, always use a winch dampener or a heavy blanket to cover the cable. This helps absorb energy in case the cable snaps, reducing the risk of injury or damage to nearby objects.
5. Anchor points matter: Ensure that the anchor points you use for winching are stable, secure, and rated for the task. Never attach your winch to fragile objects, as they could break under the strain, leading to accidents.
6. Keep a clear path: Before engaging the winch, make sure the path is clear of obstacles and bystanders. Warn others in the vicinity of your actions, and ensure they maintain a safe distance during winching operations.
7. Regular maintenance: Your winch is a mechanical device that requires proper maintenance. Regularly inspect it for signs of wear and tear, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance intervals. A well-maintained winch is a safer winch.
8. Communicate clearly: Effective communication is vital during winching operations. Establish clear signals and communication with anyone assisting you. Ensure everyone understands the plan and follows it meticulously.
9. Be patient: Winching can be a slow and methodical process. Avoid rushing or using excessive force. Applying steady and controlled tension is more effective and safer.
By adhering to these winch safety tips, you’ll not only enhance your safety during your Coffs Harbour camping & 4WD adventure but also ensure a smoother and more enjoyable off-road experience. A winch is a valuable tool, but it must be used with caution and respect for the potential hazards involved.
ARK are the Off-Road Experts!
Here at ARK, we love to get off-road just like you! We regularly hit the tracks, testing all our gear in real-world conditions to ensure that every one of our products ticks all the boxes when it comes to touring Australia.
So, get out and enjoy the great outdoors of Pebbly Beach and Coffs Harbour with some premium equipment. Armed with our XO Series 9000lbs Winch and some must-have camping gear, you’ll be set for the adventure of a lifetime!
If there’s one thing that’s undeniable, it’s that Australia is a huge place. That means there’s so much to explore, and getting off the beaten track in a 4WD is of course one of the most popular Aussie pass times. There’s such a wide variety of things to see – from the alpine mountains of the Victorian High Country, to the remote desert expanse of the Simpson and the golden sands and shimmering blue coastal waters of Fraser Island.
Having a properly equipped 4WD is an absolute must when it comes to touring the country, especially if you plan on traveling to the more remote areas this big island has to ofer such as the Simmo or the Kimberley. And there’s one bit of kit that, if you’re planning a big remote trip, is something that you absolutely must have at least one of – a trusty jerry can.
Why Should I Carry a Jerry Can?
It’s really important that if you’re doing a big trip, that you do your research especially when it comes to fuel stops. Even if you’ve installed a long-range tank, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be carrying enough diesel to cross the Simpson without your tanks needing a top-up. This largely comes down to both the distance between servos, and the increase in fuel usage that comes with constant soft sand driving. Another example is the iconic Canning Stock Route in Western Australia. This track is so long, and so remote, that you’ll actually need to plan well ahead and organise fuel drops in advance!
They’re just a couple of extreme examples of why you should be prepared to carry at least one, probably more jerry cans. But the fact of the matter is, that carrying at least one jerry can is a wise thing to do no matter where your adventures take you, as it always pays to prepare for the worst.
The Right Way to Carry Jerry Cans
The thing that a lot of people don’t consider when it comes to jerry cans, is where they’re going to mount them. Often, you’ll see big 4WDs built with big tyres and suspension, barwork all round and packed to the brim with camping gear with four jerry cans ratchet strapped down on the roof rack. If we’re honest, this is something that always makes us cringe!
There’s a couple of issues here – firstly, the weight of four full jerry cans fitted to the roofrack is almost certainly placing more weight on your roof than it is rated to carry. Most 4WDs have a rated roof carrying weight capacity of between 50kg to 150kg, with a few exceptions such as the 200 Series LandCruiser rated up to 200kg. So if you’re carrying four full jerry cans that weigh around 20kgs each, you’re already at 80kgs! Of course, you also need to include the weight of your roof rack as well, which can be as much as 40kgs for a steel roof rack! So just with the jerry cans and roof rack, you’ve already exceeded the maximum weight limit of most 4WDs roofs. Add awnings, lightbars, tents, swags, camp chairs and everything else you can expect to carry on a remote trip and you can see just how easy it is to overload a roof!
The second issue is weight distribution. Carrying that much weight at the highest point of your 4WD will make it extremely top-heavy, and unstable. This becomes a massive issue when you hit the tracks, as the angles and inclines you’ll often experience off-road can really put your 4WD in a precarious position. Add a bunch of weight to the top of your 4WD, and it doesn’t take much for it to go over!
There is, of course, a solution. Enter the humble jerry can holder!
Benefits of Fitting Jerry Can Holders
Proper weight distribution is just one of the many benefits to installing a proper Jerry Can Holder. Here’s a look at a few more:
There are a number of different styles of jerry can holders on the market that can be mounted and are loaded in different ways. ARK’s range includes standard, top and front loading options which means you can pick and choose the one that best suits your needs, whether you’re installing the Jerry can holder onto your 4WD’s rear bar, or onto a caravan or camper trailer.
Let’s face it, when it comes to carrying something as flammable as fuel, you want to ensure you’re carrying it in a safe manner. You should always carry jerry cans external to your vehicle, and a jerry can holder is the ideal solution.
If there’s one thing that has become a fact of life, it’s that fuel is expensive – doesn’t matter if you’re talking about diesel or petrol. With prices in cities often going far over the $2 per litre mark, it goes without saying that when you’re traveling remotely the price will often be double that at bush servos. That means fuel is a precious commodity, and there are plenty of people out there with sketchy morals who will not hesitate to steal a jerry can full of the good stuff should they see one unsecured in a parked 4WD. A lockable jerry can holder such as ARK’s Front Loading Jerry Can Holder or Top Loading Jerry Can Holder is the best way to prevent becoming a victim of fuel theft as they both feature an anti-theft adjustable bar with padlock!!
You may be surprised to hear this, but a jerry can holder can actually be a pretty versatile bit of kit! Fit a canvas bag inside it, and you have yourself a camp bin! We’ve also seen people use a jerry can holder as a night time shoe storage rack!
Where to go for more information?
When it comes to getting off-road and exploring this magnificent country, ARK are the proven experts. They’ve been leaders in trailer parts, towing gear and 4WD accessories for over 40 years, are 100% Australian owned and independent.
The best part? They love to get off-road just like you! They regularly hit the tracks, testing all their gear in real world conditions to ensure that their offering tick all the boxes when it comes to touring Australia!
For some, camp-side cooking involves boiling a pot of water, pouring it over a plastic cup of instant noodles, then reusing said cup the following morning as something to hold your morning brew. Don’t get us wrong. If this does it for you, then carry on as usual.
However, if freeze-dried food, tins with suspiciously long expiry dates, and processed meats aren’t for you, upping your portable camp kitchen game can elevate your meals from ‘meh’ to ‘mind-blowingly amazing.’
Just because you’re wilding it away from civilisation doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence. With a few handy camp kitchen set-up ideas, a couple of useful accessories and a good idea of what you want to eat, you’ll be able to pull off your best Curtis Stone or Emma Dean no matter where you pitch up.
To help kick start your efforts and give you a little bit of inspo, here’s our guide to setting up the ultimate portable camp kitchen.
Know Before You Go
Setting up the ultimate portable camp kitchen is all in the planning. Knowing where you are going, what is available nearby and what you want to cook will help shape the type of equipment and accessories you need to carry. It will also help eliminate many non-essentials, lightening the load and boosting fuel economy.
Some things to make a note of include:
Your destination (and its proximity to the nearest town).
How long do you plan on camping?
The time of year (to work out if cool storage is needed).
How many people are travelling on the trip?
Whether you want fast meals or gourmet creations.
How will you store your ingredients?
How do you plan on cooking (electric or gas?)
How will you clean up and deal with waste?
Portable Camp Kitchen Essentials
To elevate your culinary experience while making meals worthy of a standing ovation, you’re going to need a few basic essentials.
It’s surprising just how much you can do with a handful of kitchen utensils. While it’s tempting to empty your kitchen drawers in their entirety into your camping boxes, these are all you actually need to prepare anything to cook.
Again, cookware is something you’ll choose to fit your cooking equipment and the types of meals you intend on preparing. To give you an idea of what to pack and take with you, here are a few essentials.
Pots with lids
While paper plates, plastic cutlery and single-use straws may be a quicker way to plate up, eat and clean up, they are not great for the environment. Reusable dishes and utensils may cost slightly more, but you get a return on investment after a few uses, and they are less likely to end up polluting ecosystems. In fact, the easiest thing to do is simply take the tableware you use at home with you. Some things to remember to pack include:
Plates, bowls and drinking glasses.
Mugs and cups.
Knives, forks and spoons.
Placemats or lap mats.
Seasoning and sauce bottles.
With cooking comes dishes and pans, so you’ll want to set up a wash station near your camp kitchen. If your trailer or RV doesn’t have a fold-out wash station, a folding table with a collapsible wash basin and a drying rack is all you need. You’ll also want a closable waste bin to put any scraps in – especially if you don’t want local wildlife trying to break in at night.
The easiest way to deal with dishes and pans when camping is:
Fill a basin or container with hot water and biodegradable dish soap.
Fill another container with plain hot water.
Drop dishes into the hot water to soak. Fill pans with hot soapy water.
Scrub dishes, cutlery, and pans to remove any food.
Dip washed plates and utensils in clean hot water to rinse.
Leave to air dry or wipe down with a cloth.
before disposing, empty water through a cheesecloth to catch any debris.
Unless you like the thought of sharing your trailer or RV kitchen with wasps, fire ants, and dingoes, you’ll want to consider how and where you’ll store your food. If you’ve got a 12v power system, then a portable fridge is ideal for storing meat, dairy and cooked food. Cool boxes are also a great option if you have somewhere selling ice or ice packs nearby.
Here are some of the most common food storage options when camping:
Zip-lock food bags
Portable cool box/ice box
You’ll also want to think about which ingredients to take with you. For the most part, you should be able to stock up on fresh meat, dairy and eggs on your way. If you can’t, then you’ll want to pack and cold-store them before you leave. A few essentials to remember include:
Salt & pepper
Pasta & Rice
Top Camp Kitchen Accessories
When it comes to portable camp kitchens, the ways you cook will vary depending on your setup. In the past, a simple BBQ and fire were enough to grill hotdogs over an open flame, but nowadays, a combination of electric, gas and charcoal is preferable. If you want to take your microwave, fridge and convection stove top with you but are worried about not having access to mains power, the ArkPak 73- & ArkPak 730 Pure Sine provide portable power – no matter where you are.
Obviously, charging and maintaining your power supply battery is important, which is where the DC-DC Battery Charger and Solar Panels come into play. We’re lucky enough to live in a country that enjoys generous amounts of sunshine, so why not take advantage of it to power your portable camp kitchen? If you’re after something a little beefier for your camper trailer or RV, the XO Tech Power Distribution Hub is a fantastic choice.
Once you’ve got your power sorted, here are some ideas of what to carry with you.
Microwave or toaster oven
Convection stove top
Toaster and kettle
Butane camping stove
Looking For More?
With over 40 years in the RV, trailer and camping industry, you can count on ARK to deliver quality parts and accessories designed to elevate your trip. Take advantage of decades of hands-on experience and knowledge at this independent, Australian-owned specialist.
Whether you’re looking to power up your camper-trailer, RV or caravan or looking for ways to boost your comfort and safety but not sure where to start? Get in touch today to talk with our experts, who are always more than happy to help.