Bar awareness

Bar awareness

Sand bars are common around the country in areas such as harbours and rivers. If you go boating and want to get out into open seas you usually have to navigate them - and they can be extremely dangerous, even for experienced boaties.

Many people get into difficulty crossing a sand bar and each year, boats are damaged and people are injured or killed when a bar crossing goes wrong.

The videos below explain what a bar is and provide detailed advice that will help you prepare to cross a bar safely.

Videos further down the page provide detailed advice for bars in Kaipara, Manukau and Port Waikato.

Here are some simple tips that all boaties should follow when crossing a bar:

  • Seek local advice on the bar and channels
  • Check the weather, tide and bar conditions
  • Ensure your boat has adequate stability
  • Check your boat and make sure hatches and equipment are adequately secured
  • Make sure that everybody is wearing a lifejacket and are awake
  • Ensure that you are carrying two forms of communication that work even when wet
  • A call sign is vital for Bar Crossings to ensure positive identification and efficient communication. Get one or update your existing one here.
  • Make a trip report to Coastguard when departing advising of your departure location, your plans for the day and that you will be calling later to lodge a Bar Watch report before you cross the bar.
  • Upon arrival at your assessment point, take the time to double check conditions will be ok for a safe crossing both now and when you return with the forecasted weather and tides. Lodge a Bar Watch report.
  • Post a lookout to monitor conditions astern and approach the bar at moderate speed
  • Communicate to Coastguard that you have successfully crossed the bar and close your Bar Watch report

The final piece of advice from Coastguard is: if in doubt, don't go out!


Bar safety videos from around New Zealand


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