I want to start out by saying caravans are big and heavy and I don’t like towing them. I put out a challenge to find anyone who actually likes towing a van. Someone who thinks – Umm I might go for a nice drive in the country this weekend – I know something that’ll make it better! I’ll hook up an2800 kg dead weight on the back that can follow me everywhere while it handily increases my length by more than seven metres and gives my car a little bit of a push and shove around the place.
I am not one of those people. However, I have made a rather large financial/emotional commitment to taking one of these heavy lumps allover the place so it’s probably best that I get some well thought out advice about how to do it.
Thus we found ourselves towing the van 1 hr down the highway to the scenic Beenleigh Showgrounds. (Incidentally, if you are looking at holidaying in Beenleigh you can set up your van in the showgrounds. I don’t want to get all judgey about who and why people might want to holiday at the Beenleigh showgrounds, but, if you’re at the Beenleigh Showgrounds and the Beenleigh show isn’t on, you’ve got to ask yourself some soul-searching questions about your idea of a great holiday.) We were late because I couldn’t raise the van hitch high enough to get the tow ball of the car under it. The jockey wheel thingy[i]had sunk into the grass while it had been sitting there (Lesson right there).
to drive about a bit. We had the theory bit first. Question one; do you know how to tow a van properly- answer NO that’s why we are doing the course. Tick,we got the theory down pat. Then we had to drive around in the smallest circle we could. Easy enough until you had to do it backwards. I learned that Monja sits back sensibly in the seat when she reverses and I tend to lean forward in a Mr Magoo like pose, squinting my eyes yelling ROAD HOG at my own reflection.
Then we practiced reversing in a straight line between 2rows of witches hats (sorry to all those witches that got heat stroke that day due to us using their sun protection), that’s ok if you’re straight when you start otherwise there’s a few witches who may have to head to millinery shop.
The next thing I completely fudged was the reversing into the pretend caravan park space. Back the van until it’s at 90 degrees and wobble the steering wheel and swear while your sympathetic partner calls out“Okay- that’s kind of right” or “ Getting closer…. Sort of.”
We finished off the day by mowing down even more withes hats that were lined up so you had to manoeuvre between them at a snails pace.That’s when you learn the meaning of full lock on the steering wheel.
We both declared it a very productive day and it taught us that we have a lot more to learn. A very important lesson. You don’t do a course like this to become competent at something, you do it to gain insight into the yawning gulf between you skills and you’re requirements.
[i] It is not actually a wheel, it’s like a tall hydraulic jack with a plate on the base so the van can’t move. (turns out this is both a handy and an unhandy thing.)