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Crossing Coastal Bars: Seaway, Jumpinpin, South Passage

Crossing Coastal Bars: Seaway, Jumpinpin, South Passage

If you are considering venturing offshore for the first time, and need to cross a coastal bar, then please take heed of this advice: Do not attempt it in your own boat without having gained experience multiple times in another vessel skippered by someone else who knows the bar in all weather conditions.

Conditions on a bar can change quickly and without warning, even on a good day. Even the Gold Coast Seaway, which is the safest coastal bar to cross in Southeast Queensland, can be particularly nasty in an ebb tide, with a large swell and strong breeze. Going out through a coastal bar on a high tide in light winds and small swell is a totally different scenario to coming back in after a day’s fishing when the tide turns, the wind is up, the swell arrives, or wind-swept seas are present.

There are three bars that can take you from the Broadwater and Southern Moreton Bay out into the ocean. Crossing any of these three bars from the Broadwater and Southern Moreton Bay require different local knowledge. It is, therefore, important to know the current conditions for the specific bar that you are venturing to cross.

CROSSING THE GOLD COAST SEAWAY

When crossing the Gold Coast Seaway, log on with the Seaway Tower, VMR Southport, or Coast Guard Southport using VHF channel 16 or 73, then log off upon your return when safely back inside the bar.

Inside the Gold Coast Seaway entrance, pay special attention for board riders paddling across the Seaway, and also for scuba divers and snorkelers diving along the popular southern wall of the Seaway. At sunrise and sunset, it is particularly difficult to notice board riders paddling across the waterway, so please take special care.

Once past the heads of the Seaway, avoid heading northeast immediately, as there is a large shallow bank, which often has large breaking waves only a couple hundred metres off the Seaway entrance and can easily catch you off guard.

CROSSING JUMPINPIN BAR

Jumpinpin Bar lies between South Stradbroke and North Stradbroke Islands. If considering crossing Jumpinpin Bar, my simple advice is: Do not attempt it if you do not need to.

Jumpinpin Bar is a notoriously dangerous bar. It is much safer to either drive your vessel down to the Gold Coast Seaway, or tow your vessel behind your car and launch at a ramp close to the Gold Coast Seaway. The extra fuel costs involved in doing so is well worth it.

If you do decide to cross Jumpinpin Bar, it is imperative that you do so only on a day with a very small swell – and you must seek advice from VMR Jacobs Well prior to doing so. Never attempt to cross Jumpinpin Bar without local knowledge, and always wear a lifejacket.

Jumpinpin Bar is that dangerous that you must log on with VMR Jacobs Well using VHF channel 16 or 73 prior to heading out through the bar. You must also make contact with VMR again once you have safely made it across the bar itself. The same applies when heading back in through the bar; make contact prior to crossing the bar, and once again once you have re-entered sheltered waters.

CROSSING SOUTH PASSAGE BAR

South Passage Bar lies between North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands. Like the Jumpinpin Bar, South Passage Bar is dangerous and is no place for novice boaties. Only ever cross on a small swell, and only with local knowledge. The time for rescue services to arrive can be well over an hour, so wearing a lifejacket is imperative.

Traditionally, there are three main channels you can take. The first is a channel closest to Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island and is only navigable on a very small swell. The second channel is in the middle of the bar. When taking this channel, you must keep a proper lookout for the Rufus King shipwreck, which is only partially exposed and is difficult to see in all weather conditions. The third channel is at the northern end of the bar next to North Stradbroke Island.

Please be aware that you can encounter miles of breaking waves when crossing South Passage Bar, so you should always seek advice from VMR North Stradbroke about which channel is the most suitable as sand banks are constantly shifting on this bar.

You must also log on with VMR North Stradbroke or Coast Guard Brisbane prior to heading out through the bar. You must also make contact with them once you have safely made it across the bar itself. The same applies when heading back in through the bar; make contact prior to crossing the bar, and once again once you have re-entered sheltered waters. VMR North Stradbroke can be contacted on VHF channel 16, and Coast Guard Brisbane can be contacted on VHF channel 16 or 73.

BE SAFE

Never underestimate a coastal bar. Even small waves can capsize, swamp, or sink a boat. If you are unsure or inexperienced, do not go out and risk lives. Wait until conditions are good for you to cross safely. And once again, always wear your lifejacket.

 

By Nic Welch

 

/jul-sep2019

 

 

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