I Never Thought I’d Own an ATV

Image: ATV and trailer at the house site.

“You’re going to need a tractor”, one friend advises sagely. Another friend, who owns a remote piece of property up in the Hazelton area, tells us how useful his ATV has been for working around the property. Fifty acres is a lot of land – our friends tell us that we will need something with an engine. However, neither of us really wants to have yet another gasoline engine to feed, with the ever-increasing costs of fuel. And it seems to go against our principles to have a “motor vehicle” on the property. However, the last straw comes from the contractor who is designing the cabin for our site. “You’re not going to hand bomb all the materials up from the beach, are you?” he asks in disbelief. “The last time I had to do that …” and he goes off into stories of pain and injury. OK, I’m convinced to look at options. Maybe we’ll get a winch and a trailer. “I’ll check into things”, I tell the contractor. “Look at used ATVs”, he advises. “You might be able to get something cheap …”

So on our last trip into Campbell River, over breakfast at a cafe, we asked a friendly fellow where we might find used ATVs. He gave us some directions to the local ATV distributer in Campbell River, and commented that they sometimes had used units for sale as well. I still wasn’t totally sold on the whole ATV business, but I told Ken that we would see what they had, and check out their trailers as well, since we would need a light trailer even if we only used a winch to pull it up from the beach. What I was thinking at the time was that I would leave the whole ATV decision up to luck. If there was going to be an ATV in my life, it would show up in the right place at the right price. Otherwise, we would carry on with our other plans.

We arrived at the ATV distributer, and I was feeling a bit tense as we walked up to a desk where two salesmen sat waiting. I don’t know the first thing about an ATV, and I was hoping these salesmen weren’t the predatory type. We explained our needs – we wanted an old beater ATV that could be used as a small tractor on a remote site, and a trailer to go with it. One salesman got up and took us out to their yard where a variety of ATVs, both new and used, were on display. There were some pretty delux models with hefty price tags, and I was sure the salesman was going to take us to one of those, and spend a bunch of time convincing us that we really needed a brand new, top-of-the-line model. But no, he took us to the littlest ATV in the line-up, an old Kawasaki Bayou 300 which had clearly been around for awhile. However, it looked to be in reasonably good shape, and it started up and went through its paces well enough. Then he took us around to their storage area and showed us a trailer. Not one of the new fancy low-slung camouflage jobs that are the current rage, but an older custom-designed welded aluminum trailer with high sides, a drop tail-gate, and fat wheels – just the sort of trailer that would work for hauling wood, materials, and other supplies. It was well made, and Ken and I were both quite impressed. “So …”, the salesman said, “$3000 for the pair”. We would have happily paid $3000 just for the trailer, as we both know how much good aluminum work costs. Having had some mixed adventures with sales people, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this salesman had judged our needs and pocketbook, and had come up with a good solution. It’s not often that you find talented people like that! Before we put our money down, we checked the cost of getting a winch/trailer system rather than an ATV and trailer. As it turned out, we couldn’t even get a good winch for $3000. So in the end, the ATV option was the most economical choice.

So here we are, ten days later, standing at the entrance to our house site, watching the Hardwicke Transporter coming across the inlet towards us. The Hardwicke Transporter is a “sea truck”, a shallow-draft, self-propelled, barge-like vessel with a ramp that can be lowered onto the beach for off-loading vehicles and equipment. Today, the Transporter is bringing a load of ATVs to Port Neville. It’s delivering our new-to-us ATV and trailer to our site, and will then drop two other ATVs off for our neighbours at the mouth of the inlet. By the way, our new ATV is called the “Mule”.

Hardwicke Transporter

Image: Hardwicke Transporter coming up to our site.