After much running around like headless chickens and organising and getting things ready the big day arrived. We were packed and ready to go and Anton and I met each other at the Swartland 1-Stop for a Wimpy burger on the way to Klein Tafelberg at about 11h00 on Thursday morning. Oom Leon Naude also joined us at the 1-Stop and we set off for Klein Tafelberg hoping to get there at around about 14h00. At Piketberg we did a splash and a dash fuel stop, the Jeep and the Fortuner, towing a Mission trailer, were heavily loaded and we wanted to have maximum fuel on board to last the entire weekend. We arrived more or less on schedule and immediately started pitching camp and getting the perishables in the fridges. We did the recce's we had to do, discussed some last minute strategy and settled for a few cold ones and a steak braai.
At Swartland 1-Stop
Hitting the dirt
having a cold one
On Friday morning we got the lapa ready for the guests who were scheduled to arrive from 10h00 onwards. Bill and Irene surprised us by arriving just after 09h00, and they settled in quickly. By 12h00 everybody was settled and we could get on with it.
The welcome banner
The legendary Landy
The list of candidates:
Alro van der Spuy from Vredendal,
Ali van Wyk from Cape Town,
Piet van Heerde from Hopefield,
Bill Butler from Cape Town and
Jeremy Littlejohn from Cape Town.
The first lecture was a recap of the previous course, a bit boring but something we had to do. But soon we put that behind us and took to the trail.
On the first real obstacle Bill and Irene experienced some problems with their Landie. The left front hub lock refused to engage rendering the a 4x2. No problem Bill said, he'll fix it once we get back to camp and they hitched a ride with Anton for the rest of the day's activities. The weather played up a bit and as we went further up the mountain it started raining. Just before we got to the top Anton called on the radio and asked me to get the Jeep stuck so that we can do a snatch recovery. I tried really hard to get stuck, bu couldnt. Not even in 4x2. But I found a gully and parked the Jeep in a "stuck" manner. Everybody rushed to assist, but at that time the rain came down heavily, and we decided to postpone the recovery till the next afternoon when it was sunny. When we reached the top of the mountain the rain stopped, we had a look around and then drove back down to the campsite where more lectures and bush cooking awaited.
That evening the candidates cooked for the team. Ali and his group did a chicken potjie and Piet and his group did a lamb potjie. The food was fantastic and we all had a nice supper. Work for the day was not over yet, and after dark we took to the trail again for some night navigation. The guys enjoyed it a lot and by that time Bill's Landy was 100% operational again. We completed the night navigation and the manne were told that they could have a night cap at the fire if they felt like it. Some of the manne had a kuier around the fire till late.
Saturday morning arrived (way too early for some) and we got the guys going immediately with tyres and jacks. We did some demonstrations, gave the guys a go at using the stuff and then rolled out a particularly pesky tyre on a rim. "You have 12 minutes" was the call. Pull the tyre off the rim, and put it back again. All the tools were laid out on a sheet just ready for use. It was amazing to see how the guys organised themselves and how the teamwork developed. Remember, except for Piet and Ali, the rest of the guys met each other the previous day for the first time. The team struggled a bit to seperate the tyre from the rim, but with a bit of sweat and dogged etermination they finally managed to get it right. Afterwards Allan told them that the Firestone ATX was well know for not debeading easily. Even at very low tyre pressures they stuck to the rim like bubblegum to hair.
Jacks and Tyres:
Allan Venter (Hoppy) then presented a very good Bush Mechanics lecture, had a brekkie, some coffee and then drove all the way back to Cape Town again. Something about having to attend a wedding.
It was time to hit the trail again. At the same turn where Bill picked up problems before, he noticed that the hub on the left front is once again not engaging. This is when Bill, Irene and the trusty army Garry taught us all a lesson in 4x4'ing. Bill said if he could just get to the picnic spot on the mountain, he would open it up again and jam the hub lock so it wont come loose again. He stunned us all by driving all the way to the top of the mountain, on very flat tyres, and in 4x2. The landy needed a little bit of assistance at one of the steep rocky sections, but for the rest it was plain sailing.
Bill's Landy in 4x2 with Stubs drive locked.
Ali se .22
Piet se kroozer:
Alro se Triton
Jeremy se Fortuner
The first task of the day was Ali's Hilux that "popped a tyre off the rim" in a pretty steep section of the track. With Piet's 60 series Cruiser acting as an anchor, the team got themselves organised and in no time a "tyre change" was executed under safe conditions. Once again that team work came through.
Shortly after Ali's task Irene came over the radio saying "Guys Bill damaged a tyre.. This is not an exercise!". For sure Bill slashed the left rear tyre on a rock and the Landy was out of commission. Once again the guys rallied to the cause and in no time the spare was on and Bill and Irene could continue on their quest to conquer the mountain.
Once we got to the top lunch was served, and Bill got cracking with repairs. Unfortunately the Landy's condition was terminal. Sideshaft twisted right off. That meant that Bill and Irene had to catch a lift along the rocky section of the trail.
Firstly we let the drivers guide each other around a tricky corner, and then we did a steep descent.
All went well until we got to the "steps" where Stubsie had a "moment" overcooking it a bit and ending on top of a rock overhanging the edge. No harm, just a bent steering arm.
Round and round and up and down we went until we got to a spot where Anton and I set our vehicles up for a winching exercise.
By this time the guys were getting eager to get oof the mountain and to watch the rugby game between Stormers and Chiefs. Ali was listening to it on the radio and shouted the score over the hand helds every now and then. Once we arrived at the picnic spot where we left the Landy, a quick snatch recovery simulation was staged which the guys got done in a jiffy. It seemed like it was the rugby calling. Only Heartbreak Hill stood between us and the rugby so everybody ran up it in double time, except Bill in the Landy who took the escape route.
Back in the camp we stopped at the Pub, watched the remainder of the game and had a couple of cold ones just to quench our thirst. Now it was time for the crew to cook. Stu got the fire going, Anton got all the meat ready, the ladies got the salads and braai broodjies ready. The guys were pretty bushed, and after a short prize giving ceremony where each candidate was presented with his own Bootcamp T-shirt and a special prize from 4x4Direct.co.za Stu and I started braaing. Shortly after dinner the guys went to bed, satisfied and tired after a hard day's work.
Sunday morning also came too soon, but it was there and we had to deal with it. After coffee and ruskes Stubsie went ahead and presented his Bush Medics presentation as well as a talk on snakes and snake bites. Breakfast was served and the dreaded exams were completed. After 2 hours of struggling through reams of paperwork, we took a nice group photographs and then the big pack-up began. It was very hot, and a sweaty exercise just to fold the tent!
One by one the guys came to say goodbye, tackling the long road home. Anton, oom Leon and I left the camp at about 14h00 on our way home. Another very satisfying weekend of hard work behind us, with 5 very happy customers a whole bunch of new friendships were forged in the heat of the Bootcamp.
Ready to go home:
We as Team Offroad would like to express our thanks to the following people:
Firstly all the candidates. You guys are all legends and you made the weekend a huge success. Thanks for your positive attitude and team spirit. You all thoroughly deserve the title of Advanced 4x4 Driver.
The support crew. Without your dedication and support the weekend would have been a disaster! Stubsie, Allan, Elismari and Charmaine. You guys were great, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Thanks to Pieter Pretorius from 4x4Direct.co.za who sponsored the mystery prizes for Saturday evening's prize giving.
And to our guests Irene and Oom Leon, thanks for coming along, pitching in where you could and sharing the load of the support crew and the candidates.
So here it starts all over again. Next Bootcamp is the first weekend in November 2013.
Wanna come along??