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Old 04-05-2013, 21:53   #1
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Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

I am considering a trip to Belmont next January and was wondering if any members would have information regarding the state of the Swansea Bar?

We would be crossing in a 38 foot outboard powered catamaran.

Thanks for any advice
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Old 04-05-2013, 21:59   #2
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Re: Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

The bar is usually benign, save in a big NE swell. Least depth on the leads is as shown on the charts... it is actually a coal seam, so it doesn't change like many bars do. For deep draft boats the sticking point is usually the "drop-off" where the narrow and fast flowing channel suddenly widens out into the lake and drops its load of entrained sand and silt. That depth varies constantly, and is often less than 7 feet. It does not change much with the tide, but does with heavy rainfall and big swings in barometric pressure. Various dredging schemes are in place, but in the past the results of these are ephemeral and often not very effective. Recent local knowledge is required for keel boats, but with your cat you should not have any problems.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 04-05-2013, 22:07   #3
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Re: Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

Hi Jim,

I was actually hoping for a reply from you. i dream of the full time cruising lifestyle when retired. Only 15 - 20 years to go!

I am not very experienced with offshore having spent most of my time in Moreton Bay with just the occasional trip to Fraser so this would be a bit of a jump.

Are there particular breeze directions to be avoided. We would only be travelling in favourable conditions but i guess things change. it would also appear that there mat be easier harbours to the north if conditions degenerated?

Thanks

Jason
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Old 04-05-2013, 22:22   #4
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Re: Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

G'Day Jason,

For the lake, strong NE winds are the worst, or a swell from E to NE. Even then, on the flood the bar is usually ok. Contacting the VMR for on site observations is sometimes productive, but some of the operators tend to be a bit stingy with info.

IF you are coming from the north, Port STephens, some 40 miles before the lake (IIRC) is essentially an all-weather port and has both marinas and good anchorages available. About 15 miles north of the lake is Newcastle harbour on the Hunter river. This entrance, used by giant coal ships, is almost never a problem for yachts. Once inside one can choose to go to the marina or anchor in the north arm of the river about a mile in from the entrance. Very good protection and holding, very industrial scenery... not pretty but safe and easy!

Hope that helps, mate... have a good trip. The lake is an interesting venue and should you tire of it, Broken Bay is not much further south and has lots to offer.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 04-05-2013, 23:12   #5
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Re: Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

The bar is pretty well protected from the usual SE swell. As Jim says, it's a place to avoid in heavy NE weather. For a cat, depths are more than ample.

To enter the lake, call Marine rescue Lake Macquarie and arrange a bridge opening. They ask one hour's notice. They won't open the bridge at peak hour times - 8 am or 4pm mon to fri.
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Old 05-05-2013, 02:00   #6
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Re: Crossing Lake Macquarie Bar

It is a pretty easy bar. Use a current chart and Lucas's cruising guide and you should have no problems. After you cross the bar, there are some back leads that will point you up the channel to the bridge. I believe there are some public moorings below the bridge now, which make it easier to wait for an opening. At any rate, from memory it is easy anchoring in sand.

Regards,
Richard.
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