Following a recent Marine Incident at the McLoughlins Beach ocean access entrance vessel operators attempting to make passage through and across ocean entrance sand bars are reminded that bar crossings are regarded as extremely dangerous and that vessel operators are advised to take extra precaution before and during any decision to attempt a bar crossing.
Vessel operators should be aware of risks that include when unfavorable environmental conditions exist, such as;
• Poor weather conditions with strong winds making the bar entrance hard to distinguish
• Large swells created by recent weather events that close off the bar entrance with breaking surf.
• The run of the ebb tide which lifts and shortens sea conditions on the bar increasing risk of swamping or capsize.
• Poor visibility, which may include the position of the sun relative to the vessels position when attempting to cross the bar
• Changes in sea and swell conditions from the time of departure to the time of arrival and on a day to day basis. Sea conditions can change from long distance weather events centered in the Tasman Sea or Bass Strait.
Other contributing factors that heighten bar crossing risks include;
• Inexperienced vessel operators
• Experienced persons operating an unfamiliar vessel
• Under prepared vessels and voyage planning.
Passage through an entrance and sand bar should only be attempted by experienced persons with sound local knowledge at times of fair weather, smooth sea conditions at higher water with no influence from the ebb tide. Operating vessels through an entrance and sand bar at times of heightened risk should be avoided.
Vessel operators should take extra care during vessel equipment checks and conduct a safety briefing to passengers prior to departure or arrival.
Wear a Life Jacket
Information regarding Bar crossing advice, safety equipment requirements, vessel preparation checks and voyage preparation checks can be found in the Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook available online at; https://transportsafety.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/29540/Handbook-2020.pdf
Mariners transiting along the Gippsland Coast are advised to consult the most recent and corrected Navigation Charts, Publications and Notices, which form the basis of sound passage planning and voyage preparation.
“IF IN DOUBT DON’T GO OUT”
Mariners are invited to contact the Harbour Master on 0427 610 025 should they wish to discuss port entry for any Ports under the Management of Gippsland Ports. (see website for details);