Sled Fire – Why is Sandy So Calm?
By Andrew Goldsworthy
Like many or you, I have a snowmobile-related bucket list. Of course it’s full of visiting world renowned riding destinations, some close to home, a trip to South America to ride in August and one that I got to cross-off two seasons ago. Seeing a snowmobile catch on fire, burn, explode and burn down to a pile of ash that you could lug away in a couple of grocery bags. Witnessing this event stamped one word into my brain, insurance! Before I start this article, I agree, this was a weird thing to have on a bucket list. Now I wouldn’t wish this type of thing upon anyone. And if it did happen to you, I hope you have insurance like my friend Sandy who was visiting from Nova Scotia.
So where does this story start? Myself and a few riding buddies were enjoying a weekend at The Backlands Lodge (off Taylor’s Brook Road – during the 2013 season. This was the final full day of riding and the spring conditions were great and we were trying to squeeze every minute of it. Earlier that weekend, my riding buddies had met Sandy in the main parking lot of Taylor’s Brook Cabins (formerly B&R cabins). Sandy extended a warm hello to me via the guys. We had ridden together down in the Codroy Valley area the season before with Paul Gale. Sandy and his riding buddies were on an epic 4 week long sled trip to Newfoundland…that’s hardcore indeed! This time, Sandy and team were enjoying another monster trip to Western Newfoundland.
Now let me frame this up for you, Sandy is a pretty relaxed dude and I have never seen him rattled. So the day when we came upon him on Taylor’s Brook Road, hauling the seat and gear bags off his sled, his calm demeanour didn’t alarm anyone. However, the smoke that was bellowing out from the hood of his sled didn’t seem normal at all. When Sandy suggested we move our sleds back, we knew this wasn’t going to end well. Sandy’s sled erupted into flames and at this point, we decided to move back because the sled was going to blow (gas tank). Within less than a minute, the major explosion happened. That was really quite the experience.
Along with Sandy, we were all capturing the event through both photos and video. The sled completely burned down in less than five minutes. We helped Sandy clean up the debris and gave him a ride out to the main staging area. One of the guys said to me, “Sandy is so calm about it”. Sandy overheard them and replied “if I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be so calm”.
This lead us all into a 15 minute conversation about who had coverage and who didn’t. For the less than $150 per season, why would you not have fire, theft and liability. However, I bet there are folks out there riding on their 2018 sleds with absolutely no insurance. More importantly, the liability coverage along is a condition of purchasing your NLSF trail pass. To me, this is another reason why the annual mandatory registration makes sense, it create a ‘check’ to see who’s actually insured and who’s not.
Photo credits: Jason Silver