Buried up to your eyeballs in sludge? You’ll be needing the services of a winch. Here are some basic rules for safe and efficient operation…
Find a good spot to secure the winch cable to the mired ATV. Don’t hook up to racks or other fragile parts because the winch will often pull so hard it will damage them or pull them right off. Trailer hitches or frame loops are good.
If you’re attempting to pull yourself out with your own winch, simply let out enough slack so you can loop the cable around a tree, rock or other solid object. (Note: Never loop the bare cable around a tree without using a pad between the two).
The winch will need a little help to do its job efficiently. If you’re the one doing the winching, make sure you’ve secured your ATV behind something solid so it won’t be dragged into the goo with the stuck ATV.
Sometimes the locked application of the brakes will suffice to anchor you. The stuck ATV should also use its engine and transmission to lend a hand.
Remember, the objective is to winch your buddy’s ATV out, not pull parts off it. A loose line creates a whipping motion and can snap the cable or cause damage.
Slack also causes the cable to tangle on the bale and turn into crimped spaghetti. Be gentle.
4. Tied up!
Tangles are a nuisance – especially when you’re up to your knees in mud and your helmet is full of black flies. Loose cable can get wrapped around moving parts and cause serious damage.
Even worse is the possibility of getting the line tangled around another person. To avert accidents keep tension on the cable at all times and try to pull straight, not on an angle.
A little preventative maintenance will save you time, headaches and money. The job is not done once you’ve pulled the ATV out. Take the time to rewind the cable carefully back onto the bale.
Keep light tension on it as you reverse the winch. You’ll be glad you did the job right next time someone is stuck up to the handlebars in a quagmire.