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Pelican Waters QLD - Boating and Fishing
Bar Crossing

Bar crossing rules (under 4.8m)

If you cross the bar without a life jacket on, you cross the line Everyone in open boats under 4.8 metres, while crossing a declared coastal bar, now must be wearing a life jacket. Designated coastal bars include Wide Bay Bar, Noosa Bar, Maroochydore Bar, Caloundra Bar, South Passage Bar, Jumpinpin Bar, Tallebudgera Bar, Currumbin Bar.

A bar is an accumulation of sand or silt at the entrance of a river, creek, lake or harbour like the Gold Coast Seaway, Jumpinpin, South Passage Bar, Wide Bay Bar, Noosa, Caloundra, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.

Conditions prevailing on a bar can cause steep and often breaking seas. For this reason it is important to take a number of precautions and manoeuvre the boat with extreme caution. Crossing a bar is a job for an experienced boat handler.

Conditions on a bar change quickly and without warning. The skipper‘s experience and boat type should be taken into account when considering a bar crossing.

No amount of experience or boat type makes crossing a bar safe when the conditions are adverse.

Don‘t take a risk – if in doubt, don‘t go out.

All sand bars are different. You need to learn about each bar by seeking advice from groups who may cross it on a regular basis or local commercial boating operators, maritime authorities, marine rescue groups, Boating and Fisheries Patrol or the
Water Police. Immediately prior to crossing a bar always contact the local marine rescue group for an update on conditions at the bar.

Boat operators must assess conditions on a bar and be aware that a rapid change in conditions might prevent a safe return.

Boats unable to weather adverse sea conditions outside the bar should not leave port.

Obtain a weather report for the time of crossing the bar and a weather forecast of conditions expected on your return.

Preparing to cross a bar

  • Effective communication must be established with the local marine rescue group.
  • Obtain up-to-date tide and weather information.
  • It is always preferable to cross on an incoming tide.
  • Stay at a safe distance until a report on the prevailing bar conditions has been obtained.
  • Ensure that all deck openings, hatches and doors are securely battened down or closed.
  • All loose gear must be secured.
  • All persons must wear an approved PFD.
  • Ensure all lifesaving equipment is accessible and ready for immediate use and everyone knows how to use it.

Crossing a bar

  • While approaching the bar keep a close lookout for depth of water, smallest waves, where the breakers are and where gaps appear.
  • Check where other boats are crossing the bar.

This will be the most likely spot you too will cross the bar.

Monitor the:

  • prevailing wind direction and force
  • sets – wave pattern and timing
  • course to follow
  • bar traffic
  • alternative routes.
  • Ensure any preceding boat is well clear of the bar before attempting to cross.
  • Approaches should be made at a moderate speed so the operator is capable of increasing or decreasing speed.

Outbound – Heading out to sea

  • Motor slowly to the breaking waves looking for the area where waves break last or, preferably, not at all. Wait for a flatter than usual stretch of water and motor through.
  • If there seems no break in the waves slowly power through each oncoming wave.
  • Ensure you are not going too fast over each wave as this could cause the boat to ‘bottom out’ if it dives heavily.
  • If possible, make the crossing with the waves slightly on the bow so the boat rolls gently over the crest of each wave.

Inbound – Heading back to port

  • Approaching from sea, increase power of the boat to catch up with the bigger set of waves.
  • Position the boat on the back of the wave (DO NOT surf down the face of the wave).
  • Adjust the boat’s speed to match the speed of the waves – but DO NOT attempt to overtake the waves.
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