Crossing a bar

Crossing a bar can be one of the most dangerous activities when sailing.  Here are a couple of examples of what NOT to do.

This first example is just plain crazy. When commercial operators are not going out, take it as a sign that you shouldn’t go in.  In this case, rather than waiting all night and getting frustrated, he could have gone all the way around Stradbroke Island and worked his way down the Broadwater, been safe all the way and not needed the early beer.

This second example shows how quickly and easily things can go terribly wrong if you aren’t paying attention.

Every time you cross a bar you need a plan.

  • Know the tide and tidal stream
  • Know the weather forecast
  • Know what sea state is expected
  • Wear your life jacket
  • Be prepared to wait or reroute to a better option (your sailing plan should include worst case scenario provisions and alternative safe harbour options)

If you really have no choice:

  • everyone on deck with life jackets on and tethers connected
  • close and secure all hatches
  • put in your storm boards
  • secure all lines so that they don’t end up over the side
  • have your engine running
  • if you can’t reliably keep up with the wave speed (all yachts !) deploy a drogue to keep you pointing in the right direction
  • line up from as far out as practical
  • be prepared to get very wet

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