Tales about Aviation, Coaching, Farming, Software Development

Crossing the "Brazo de Chuluganti" river

This Sunday we had a meeting with the administrator of the Chepo district. We wanted to see the crossing over the Brazo de Chuluganti river to determine what needs to be done to improve it so that it can be crossed during high tide. Last time we were there on horses and it was still in the wet season. Crossing the very same spot on horse got us wet feet as the horses were in the water up to their bellies. Now we are in the dry season and this time we tried it with the Jeep. This provided some photo opportunity. We rarely take pictures of the Jeep in the water simply because we cross the river in it and don’t want to go back and forth multiple times. The pictures in this post were taking by Luis while I was in the driver’s seat.

There are many little rocks all over the place. During high tide water flows over them making them round over time. Those that are hidden in the water have a smooth surface which provides less traction for the tires. That plus the force of the water flowing down creates an additional challenge.

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Usually dirt roads crossing a river do so in a straight line. This one is different as you have to follow the river and then make a sharp turn while in the water. In the center of the river flow there is some kind of a canal where it is deeper. You can see the Jeep bending to the left. I tried to stay as close to the shallower side and avoid the deep center.

When we where there with the horses - with a higher tide - they did the same by instinct. Horses are very good and finding the best path.

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As you can see in one moment you are deep in the water while in the next there is a bigger rock and you have one tire going up. There can be holes and you may drop into one and have the hood dive into the water. The Jeep’s air intake is at the highest point right under the hood but without a snorkel that can be too low. Once water enters the engine … Well … It gets expensive. There is always some risk involved when you drive in water. However, it’s a very special experience and fun too ;-)

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A few meters further I had to make a steep turn towards the exit where the next challenge was waiting. The exit has some rocks plus loose and muddy dirt. All that makes the Jeep show its belly. I think the picture shows quite well that these are unusual situations and it takes a vehicle that’s designed for this kind of stuff.

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To get out of the river took more than one attempt. Putting the transmission into 4L and blocking rear and front differentials finally allowed to have power and traction to move us out of the water and onto the dry dirt about 10 m away from the river.

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You can clearly see that this section needs some work. It is too narrow, the combination of wet dirt and rocks makes it slippery and the slope is too steep. We plan on bringing a Caterpillar D3 bulldozer to the place to rebuilt the whole thing. The river isn’t very wide but it’s kind of a canal. Removing a lot of the material on both sides will allow the water to use more space which makes the tide lower. The alternative would be to build a bridge and have it rest onto those steep banks on either side.

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