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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 01-08-2011
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Crossing A Bar In A Yacht

hi all, i`m very new to sailing and only have experience with power boats. i have tried to find info on crossing river bars in yachts but all the info seems directed towards power boats and they overlook the real nitty gritty in a yacht. coming in through a bar in a power boat...pick a wave and sit on the back of it and ride it in is ok with 200hp but with my little 8hp struggling to push a heavy load...well.... the thought of waves coming up behind me and running through me is not a nice thought... also, going out across a bar with 200hp is ok.. just power up the wave and then off the power to gently land on the other side...... but with a 8hp whining its way up a wave, i have visions of being pushed backwards and upwards with my bow reaching for the stars. do i cross with sails up, combinations of sail and motor, motor only,etc.etc. does anyone have the answers for me as i`m planning a trip that will involve many bar crossings... thanks

Last edited by BUDGIE SMUGGLER; 01-08-2011 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011
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Your are talking about hoarse power but what about draft? If your powerboat draws a couple feet and maybe only a few inches when on plane that is a big difference if you draw 5 feet.

Maybe you have to go around?
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Old 01-08-2011
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All this time I didn't know that yachts are old enough to go into a bar...


This is when you really pay attention to the tide tables. Come in on a rising tide when you have enough water over the bar for you to cross safely.
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Old 01-08-2011
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denise030.....GULP.... thankfully i dont have to cross bars for a living..... but then again, maybe crossing bars for "pleasure" is worse!!..... i`m on the east coast of australia & i`ve seen many a bar working like this......not for the faint hearted and certainly not for me
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Old 01-09-2011
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Hi Aussie,
OK - There is a lot of things to have the boat ready before you cross. Firstly, pick your weather and stay out or on course up the coast if it is not good.

My advice is "if possible, or ideally"

Only cross at the top or an hour before the top of the tide, in the morning.

I would leave the sails up [reefed]and sail over, with engiine on -

Wash boards in, PFD on, Coast Guard notified.

Saying this,

From where you are, 4 days (and nights) should see you coming across the easiest bar on the coast - the Southport Seaway. I've heard of Houseboats being sucked out the Seawy and being towed back in, so de-stress a bit over that entrance.

The next bar crossing is the Wide Bay Bar, again easier in the right conditions than some in NSW.
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thanks st anna, not sure about the "only 4 days and nights" to the goldcoast seaway....... i`m having a job staying awake now........(maybe the couple of glasses of wine though) and as for crew.....there is`nt enough room to swing a ships mouse on my little baby, let alone a ships cat.......and the coffin berths (is that what you call them? ) are so full of my stuff and no burley sailor`s are getting in my v berth with me!!!! unless you were suggesting female crew!!! oh no, i`ve had enough, i`m going to bed...goodnight,sweet dreams
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Old 01-09-2011
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Crossing shallow bars in big waves keel boats have a distressing habit of bouncing their keels on the bottom when they are at the bottom of waves. I saw one in the Bahamas that had driven the keel through the bottom of the boat.

It is essential to judge the wave height, water depth and keel depth.
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One other minor detail that I have noticed happening on bar crossings...
When you have strong conflicting winds & currents you will get a heavy chop that could indanger your vessel if your skills in boat handling are only average.
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Old 01-09-2011
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After the an uneventful crossing of the Nahwitti Bar, I made the tongue-in-cheek comment, "That was exciting." One student remarked, "When you do it right, it is boring." I stored that one on long term memory.
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