There are many factors to be considered in analyzing a bar and it's
inherent dangers. The following is a list of what I consider to be the
important factors. They are listed intentionally in order of importance.
There may be some mistakes in the order.
1. Danger during Light Conditions
2. Danger during Moderate Condition
3. Danger during Severe Conditions
4. Max Wave Height, and still passable
5. Channel Depth
6. Channel Width
7. Entrance Width
8. Amount of vessel traffic
9. Quality North Hole
10. Quality South Hole
11. Accident rate compared to amount of traffic
12. Rock Danger Index
13. Danger North Side
14. Danger South Side
15. Presence of a Coast Guard Base
16. Distance to a Helicopter Base
17. Entrance. Direction
18. North Jetty Length
19. South Jetty Length
20. Size of water discharge Plume
21. Amount of Discharge
22. Dredge Dump Zone Dangers
23. Front Range Height
24. Back Range Height
25. Presence of End Of Jetty Mark
26. Tide Rips
28. Natural Entrance Protection
29. Ease of In/Out
There is at least one factor, not provided for above.
Many entrances are particularly hazardous from swell direction from a specific direction.
If I have time, I will consider writing some more explanation about these factors.
In general, bars should be crossed during the flood. Near high water slack has the advantage of more depth on the bar and less chance of a breaking wave during the crossing, because of. Low slack is not as desirable, but this is usually only a factor on entrances which are characteristically shallow.
Outbound crossings can be facilitated by going near the beginning or the end of the ebb, with due regard for the above mentioned factors.
Inbound crossings are best done during the flood. There is a small chance of danger just near the beginning of the flood of being swept towards the beach, by the first surge of the flood tide. I have personally been in the breakers twice(over 40 years) because of such a surge.
At some large entrances the ebb may run several hours after so-called low water, oftentimes on one side of the entrance or the other. This can be put to use, but watch out in the dark.
Crossings in the dark, should very carefully considered.
Crossings near max ebb, should avoided at almost all costs.
You are entitled to break the rules, if you know enough to write them. But, if things go to hell you may not be able to justify it.
I provide this to you because I have had many friends and others killed doing this. I am not keen about having it happen again.
Never let up your guard while doing a bar crossing. Stay alert every minute you are in the danger zone, which is about 60 feet of water depth.
Return to Main page © Copyright 2000. Captain Michael P. Maurice. All rights reserved.