Bar Crossing Safety Tips

Before You Leave:

  • Check the weather forecast. Find out the state of the tide for the times you intend to leave and return.
  • Test your engine and ensure it is running perfectly.
  • Test that your equipment such as your bilge pump, GPS, radar, etc are working properly.
  •  Life jackets must be available for all passengers on the boat, at must be worn while crossing the bar.

Before You Cross The Bar:

  • Ensure that your boat is working properly by testing all mechanisms whether steering, throttle, etc.
  • Ensure that all equipment, coolers, etc are secured properly to avoid injury when crossing.
  • Asses the best route for crossing the bar, and whether a bar crossing is possible.
  • Only attempt to cross a bar (whether coming in or going out) during the period of at least three hours before or an hour and a half after high tide.
  • Remember that once you’ve committed to crossing the bar, the golden rule is that you follow through and never attempt to turn back passed that point.

Heading Out:

  • Idle your way towards the crossing for as long as you need to get a feel for the pattern of the waves. Once you’re confident of a route and in the crossing, tough it out and never back out half way!
  • Apply the throttle and run through, adjusting speed when necessary with incoming waves to avoid flying off and causing your boat, your crew, and yourself damage.
  • If a big waves appears unexpectedly, get the boats bow up fast and hit the wave at an angle of about 10 degrees off head-on with sufficient throttle to pull through.

Coming In:

  • The golden rule for crossing a bar is to do it at slack tide – this is usually at the height of a low or a high tide. This is the safest time to cross a bar, avoid mid-tide.
  • Study the wave breaking pattern, gear up to choose a large wave and as it slides under your boat accelerate behind the wave keeping your boat on the back of the wave as it passes through the bar. Always concentrate on keeping your boat on the back of the wave!

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