Driving alongside an open water body sure is an experience. While many of us must have experienced driving alongside the lake or a sea on the roads like ECR, driving on the beach itself remains a special experience. However, without proper knowledge, entering a beach can be a recipe for disaster. You can learn from others’ mistakes though and turn the right opportunity into an experience of a lifetime.
Know the beach
After a recent spurt of arrests for driving on the beach in Goa, one should now clearly understand that beach driving is not legal everywhere. There are only a few beaches in India that allow driving. So before you enter a beach, make sure that you’re not breaking any rules.
The beach sand from different areas has different properties. There are many types of sand that are quite hard and well-settled to form a good base where heavy things can move. On the other hand, there are many beaches where the car can sink and get stuck. It is important to know the type of beach before you take your car on it.
While your vehicle can get stuck in the sand, on most beaches, there are a few pre-designated beaches where you can drive your vehicle. Muzhappilangad beach in Kerala is one such beach where you can take your vehicle legally. It is the longest beach in Asia and it allows cars inside for a small entry fee. If the beach is not marked for driving, do check with the locals or cops first, if driving is allowed there.
Know your car
The second-most-important part is to know your car well. It is important to know your vehicle and its limitations when driving in challenging conditions, such as driving on a beach. A lot of times, owners of 4X4 vehicles do not engage in the AWD mode until they are stuck. It is imperative to engage the AWD mode before entering the beach to ensure that the car does not get stuck in the first place. Once the car is stuck, the chances are pretty slim that you will be able to rescue the car. Also, do not push the vehicle too much. Every car has its limitations and it is important to know that.
Know the tide timings
When the tide comes in, the water level rises very quickly. Even if you have parked a little away from the shoreline, high tide can quickly bring the water near the vehicle and it can drown the car too. It is always better to check the tide timings first and also keep an eye on the shoreline all the time when you’re at the beach.
Parking near the shoreline
This is one of the biggest mistakes that most people make. It is quite possible that the dry beach is hard enough to support the weight of the vehicle but the surface underwater is not. Also, when the waves come, it takes away a large amount of sand with them that can further sink your vehicle on the beach. Also parking the vehicle near water when it is idling can force the water to enter the exhaust muffler which can cause damage to the vehicle. Salty water is very corrosive and can reduce the life of the metallic parts of the vehicle.
Pack as light as possible
A heavy vehicle can sink quickly on the beach because heavy vehicles put high pressure on narrow tyres which can cause the car to sink. Always remove heavy items from the vehicle and if possible, drive with fewer people in the car.
Do not enter deep water
Yes, it can be fun and it produces some spectacular water splashes but venturing deep into the water can be extremely dangerous. Underwater surfaces may have ditches or soft spots that can turn your vehicle upside down if you hit it at high speed. Always steer clear of deep water and enjoy the area outside the shoreline as much as possible.
Prepare for the worst
Always prepare for the worst. Even though it may seem like a good beach to drive to and the surface is hard enough, any unforeseen event can happen. If anything unexpected happens and the beach is secluded, you may get into deep trouble. If you go to an unknown beach, ensure that there is a rescue vehicle waiting for you. Travelling in a group also ensures that help is always at hand.
Deflate the tyres
To increase the traction, lowering the tyre pressure of the vehicle helps a lot. Lowering the pressure increases the contact area between the tyre and the surface. A larger surface means that the weight is dissipated to a larger area, which means less pressure on the surface. Lowering the pressure to up to 10-15 PSI increases the contact area by a large amount and the vehicle does not get stuck easily.
Even if your vehicle gets stuck, accelerating the vehicle without thinking could make things worse. If the wheels are moving in one place, accelerating can make the vehicle dig deeper. It is always a good idea to change the direction of the front wheels and try slowly. The best way is to get an external force to push your vehicle out. The external force can be being towed by another vehicle or a few numbers of people pushing your vehicle, but it is the surest way of getting out of trouble.
Saltwater can be damaging
The sea water is extremely corrosive and can damage the paint and even rust the body quickly. Saltwater can leave marks on the vehicle’s body. It is important to get a professional to clean the car after a beach trip. A car coming out of the beach should be washed from every corner properly including the underbody. If there’s no professional car washing centre nearby, one can always do it at home with a couple of water buckets or a long hose.