Crossing a bar is one of the most dangerous boating activities.
It is always considered to be a time of heightened risk and a job for a practiced and experienced vessel operator.
Boaters must assess conditions on a bar and be aware that a rapid change in conditions might prevent a safe return. Vessels unable to weather adverse sea conditions outside the bar should not leave port. You should make sure that you have adequate reserve fuel and provisions should you need to remain at sea longer than intended, or need to divert to another port. Obtain a weather report and check the tide times for when you intend to cross the bar from a Marine Rescue NSW Unit. Calling a Marine Rescue NSW Unit adds to your safety before and after crossing to ensure that someone knows you are on the bar and organise assistance should it be needed. Also ensure that you know what weather conditions are expected on your return.
Most importantly, the skipper should have both the experience and temperament to handle the situation. If you are new to boating only cross bars in good conditions and gain experience gradually. Do not venture out to sea if you are in any doubt about your ability to return.
Remember: Bar condtions change dramatically for the worse when the Tide is on the EBB Going out, especially if their is a large ocean swell !!
An incoming FLOOD tide is always safer for boating.
Motor slowly to the breaking waves looking for the area
where waves break least or even better, not at all.
Wait for a flatter than usual stretch of water and motor through.
If there seems to be no break in the waves, slowly power through each oncoming wave.
Ensure that you are not going too fast over each wave as this could
cause the vessel to 'bottom out' if it dives heavily.
Punching through waves can cause severe structural damage to your vessel.
If possible, make the crossing with the bow at a slight angle to the waves
so that the vessel gently rolls over the crest of each wave.
Approaching from sea, increase power of the vessel to catch up with the bigger set waves.
Position the vessel on the back of the wave (do not surf down the face of the wave).
Adjust the vessel's speed to match the speed of the waves,
but do not attempt to overtake the waves.
Approaching from the sea it is more dangerous with a following sea.
The outrunning tide may also create pressure waves near the mouth of the Tweed River.
These steep peaks should be handled carefully as they can destabilise
the craft causing it to yaw or broach.
Handle pressure waves by accelerating gently as you come over each wave.
It is mandatory for all persons in a recreational vessel to wear a
PFD ( Personal Floatation Device )
Level100/150/275 when crossing an ocean bar.
GRAHAM VICKERY - VMR DUTY OFFICER