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Old 21-07-2012, 07:43   #16
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
It should also be said in case anybody is in any doubt: going out across a bar is five times easier and safer in a given set of conditions than coming in, particularly if you're coming into an unfamiliar entrance.

It's a bit like taking off in a plane: any idiot can do this. The fun comes when it's time to land.

One factor is that you can read waves from the oncoming side very easily and accurately, whereas looking from behind, they all look much the same. But of course the main factor is that (particularly in a sailing boat) you can deal with much bigger breakers head on than stern to.

Breakers on a surf beach or bar are not like what people generally refer to as "breakers" in a storm offshore. Generally the latter look as though they will break like a surf wave, but if you look closely at the crucial moment, they actually spill the majority of their water harmlessly down the back slope.
I've got to disagree with practically everything you said.

Firstly, waves come in sets, and it is much easier to see the lulls and the big waves coming when you are outside the surf line--ask any surfer. If you are inside the bar, you need a spotter up high on a jetty or a cliff.

Hanging around outside the bar till the top of the tide is a good idea, but anchoring in the open ocean on a lee shore is not. The snatch loads on your gear are tremendous and dangerous, and its just a matter of time before something breaks. You are far better off heaving to.
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Old 21-07-2012, 18:38   #17
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
I've got to disagree with practically everything you said.

Firstly, waves come in sets, and it is much easier to see the lulls and the big waves coming when you are outside the surf line--ask any surfer. If you are inside the bar, you need a spotter up high on a jetty or a cliff.

Hanging around outside the bar till the top of the tide is a good idea, but anchoring in the open ocean on a lee shore is not. The snatch loads on your gear are tremendous and dangerous, and its just a matter of time before something breaks. You are far better off heaving to.
I'm talking about something other than picking sets and lulls - I'm talking about identifying exactly where the channel is, which is very difficult from seaward. On many bars, the channel can occasionally shift even in the space of a day or two, so unless you've just gone out across the same bar, knowing its location is crucial when entering (in any vessel constrained by draft in the troughs). Relying on even expert local information can be misleading, unless that person has a vessel of similar draft, speed and handling, and has surveyed the channel since it last shifted.

In a sailboat it's certainly worth trying to anticipate lulls (ideally you want the maximum lull at the time you're in the worst part of the entrance) but realistically you generally haven't the speed in a cruising yacht to do the whole transit within a lull, so you have to make your decision on the basis you may have to put up with whatever nature dishes up. But you certainly have to know you can stay in the channel.

If you're exiting the bar, and you wait for flood tide (as obviously you must do if conditions are other than absolutely ideal) you can identify the channel (which may have severe doglegs) from inshore looking at the wave fronts, and reassess it in real time.
This is because the steepness of the fronts is an accurate reflection of the amount of current flowing in the same direction as the waves. The fronts will be much less steep in the channel, where the flood tide is moving the water in the same direction as the wave energy is travelling. The size of the waves (which is all you can see from behind them) is not much different.

So inferring the location of the channel can be virtually impossible looking at the backs of the waves, especially getting real-time updates once you're committed and entering. At the first sign you have it wrong you must get the bow pointing offshore as soon as safely possible, at which point you are in the same situation as someone exiting, and can start breathing again.

Breathing not just because you can now see the channel, but also because:
- you won't broach while exiting
- you are very unlikely to do a reverse pitchpole (whereas a forward pitchpole is a definite possibility while entering) and
- you have positive steering way from the flooding tide (rather than having it reduced when entering - remembering you're going down a river).

Finally, in the situation where you are exiting 'from scratch', rather than aborting a failed entry attempt: if you touch, the incoming tide will wash you back the way you came, which (by definition) is deep enough. No such escape route is available on entering.

However you will be entirely dependent on your engine, which must be ultra reliable ... and you had better have NO gunge in your tanks. This is where a daytank can be a lifesaver.

As far as anchoring offshore, it's hardly worth doing if you're just waiting a few hours for a tide. Heaving to makes much more sense in this situation. I was talking about longer periods, such as waiting for daylight, or for an expected moderation of the ground swell.

It's a judgement call, and certainly there are situations where it's a stupid call, but it is often the case that severe conditions on a bar are relatively moderate further out (especially in a long, low swell), and it doesn't seem to me that any favours are being done to apply the label "lee shore" as if this somehow made a place unsafe just because you put an anchor down.

If it's the sort of lee shore this implies, you shouldn't be there in the first place.

One good way of alleviating the snatch loads from a seaway, (as opposed to the wind gusts which are the problem in anchorages sheltered from the open sea) is to add a decent sized buoy (like a 20 litre plastic jerry) to the warp, situating it about where the yacht would otherwise be, then paying out another boat length (a bit more if needed) of warp.

Heavy chain near the anchor will keep the system working well. The warp cannot snatch straight without submerging the buoy, which takes considerable force.

It might seem like a scope defeating option (and I can sense armchairs around the world creaking under the accumulated weight of pent up expertise as I write this) but remember that the float is situated where the boat would otherwise have been.

The intensity and direction of loads seen by the anchor are actually less challenging to it, because

a) the new "boat" can submerge, which helps the scope angle, and
b) by averting snatch loads, the anchor is helped as well as the boat:

Techniques such as this are used by people in my part of the world who have to anchor routinely in places where there are no viable "anchorages", and don't feature in any cruising guides. Places like the Bounty Islands, Pitcairn & Easter Island, the Ballenys...
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Old 21-07-2012, 19:28   #18
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Hanging around outside the bar till the top of the tide is a good idea, but anchoring in the open ocean on a lee shore is not. The snatch loads on your gear are tremendous and dangerous, and its just a matter of time before something breaks. You are far better off heaving to.
No real experience trying to anchor in open water as is suggested here but I can only imagine doing so in an emergency as a last-ditch effort to avoid being driven ashore. My concerns for doing this come from the experience of a former dockmate who lost his rig trying to anchor 15 miles off Ensenada (if I remember right it was Ensenada). Terrible cross seas apparently and his furler had jammed leaving himw/o a headsail. He did not feel it was possible to work off-shore far enough to heave-to. Snatch loads indeed.
I suppose if the depth were right and conditions benign enough but I will be sceptical about this one.
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Old 21-07-2012, 21:12   #19
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

There are barred entrances and there are barred entrances, but there are several on the east coasts of Australia and the US where the typical conditions are onshore wind and waves. For examples, there are Yamba, Ballina, and Wide Bay in Oz, St Augustine Florida and Bandon Oregon. Some of these barred entrances have jetties, but the bar is typically to seaward, with deeper water both inside and outside the bar. The currents and/or dredging will cut a slightly deeper channel through the bar, which will change with time and may or may not be accurately marked. You can see the trouble spots from outside if you wait for a few sets--look for breaking seas and foam on the water. If the waves are big enough to break in these entrances, you are going to want to wait in deep water until conditions improve or go to a deeper entrance--anchoring is not an option.

I haven't been to the Bounty's or the Balleny's, but I have been to Easter and Pitcairn. The best anchorage in these places is always in the lee of the island to escape the wind waves. A month or two before we arrived in Pitcairn, a cruiser lost his boat and his wife when he anchored on the windward side in Bounty Bay.

As far as using a float in rough conditions, you are likely to lose your fingers setting it or retrieving it. It was interesting reading Peter Smith's description of anchoring in a blow at South Georgia Island:

"Readers may question the absence of a snubber – conditions were such that one would have been dangerous, and being able to get away quickly was more important. The higher shock loads placed on the anchor simply have to be accepted in these situations."
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Old 21-07-2012, 22:27   #20
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

If you ever get the chance, cross the bar at Fort Bragg in Northern California on the coast..
You surf a channel for a couple hundred yards with rocks on both sides, channel is about 30 to 40 yards wide.. and at the end of the channel you go between two concrete peers (about 40 feet wide) and under a bridge.. water depth is about 11 feet so you hold your breath not to hit bottom at the base of a swell or the bridge overhead.. and then you hang a quick right to get back to the marina... the light system is also a trip..........
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Old 21-07-2012, 22:38   #21
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

Don

You mention using a float "in rough conditions"

Let me be clear: I do NOT recommend anchoring offshore in rough conditions.
I also would never use a float in a sheltered anchorage. Snatching due to wind load is IMO better handled with a snubber.

Peter didn't want to use a snubber because the lee shore was close astern and he had reservations about the time added to retrieving it should his position become untenable.*

That's not going to be a consideration anchoring offshore, and in most cases I'd be thinking of, the wind would either be insignificant, or NOT be onshore.

I originally responded to someone who made a blanket assertion that if a bar was not passable, anchoring off would never be an option.

I dispute that. I'm thinking of situations where the problem at a bar is caused by a ground swell, rather than waves caused by local wind.

In such conditions it is misleading to dismiss the notion of anchoring off; it might be perfectly viable.

00000000000000000000000000000000000

* With regard to snubbers in tight spots: In such situations I've used a sacrificial webbing sling attached to the chain with a Kleimheist hitch. The snubber line is then hitched to the loop of the sling with a double sheet bend. This combination will make it past the anchor roller.

A sharp serrated blade (as on a Leatherman) will then quickly separate the bulk of the Kleimheist from the chain, and any remnants left on a suitably man-sized chain will make it safely around the gypsy and down the navel pipe to be dealt with at leisure.
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Old 21-07-2012, 23:23   #22
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Old 21-07-2012, 23:59   #23
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

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Haveing grown up in the PNW of the usa, Ive crossed many Bars ! far better to have enough horsepower to have control and cross them with you engine then try to use sails! just my 2 cents (I aways over power my boats LOL) -Bobconnie
I dont thing what is being said is to sail in the inlet/ bar sans engine, but to have both sail up and engine on. Having at least the mainsail up is standard operating procedure for us when traversing any inlet. Murphy could copme into play and your engine could stall/ stop and you would be left without steerage or power. At least you have the ability to tuen back with a sail up.

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Old 22-07-2012, 11:21   #24
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

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Originally Posted by Butler View Post
No real experience trying to anchor in open water as is suggested here but I can only imagine doing so in an emergency as a last-ditch effort to avoid being driven ashore. My concerns for doing this come from the experience of a former dockmate who lost his rig trying to anchor 15 miles off Ensenada (if I remember right it was Ensenada). Terrible cross seas apparently and his furler had jammed leaving himw/o a headsail. He did not feel it was possible to work off-shore far enough to heave-to. Snatch loads indeed.
I suppose if the depth were right and conditions benign enough but I will be sceptical about this one.
I guess it matters which way the wind is blowing. I would heave too 10 miles out if the wind was driving me parallel or away from the shore. Just a mainsail only can get me 50 miles offshore, and usually I travel at about 1 knot a hour heaved too. But I wasn't there.
I would not anchor in rage conditions unless it was a last resort.
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Old 26-07-2012, 00:32   #25
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

I couldn’t resist chipping in. Someone mentioned the number of bars along the East coast of Australia. I’ve crossed many of them six times, most of the others at least twice (but not Ballina), plus those along the North and West coasts (there are not many along the South coast - too many cliffs).
Many of them are 24+ hours from anywhere safe to anchor (elsewhere is too deep and too dangerous) so you must plan to arrive at the “right” time. That is, near high water to give water under the keel (some virtually dry out at low water) and with NO ebb flow. Wind against current effects create high, steep, badly behaved dangerous seas. River flow aside, some continue to ebb up to 3 hours after high water. Many are well documented e.g. see Alan Lucas’ excellent cruising guides, some are not (e.g. in the West). I carefully plan, and time, my arrival to optimise daylight, wind, swell, tide and current.
Local knowledge is important (my last trip over the Lakes Entrance bar the “official” tide tables had a two hour discrepancy in the time of high water compared with the Port Authority - and subsequent observation). The course for safe water changes frequently and any fixed leads are not always accurate - talk to the local Coast Guard, dredge skipper, harbour master, fishing boats etc. and weight their input accordingly.
My usual practice is to lower sails but keep the jib ready for instant deployment and the main as ready as practicable. One can’t sail when the apparent wind does a 360 as you accelerate on a wave. Although you shouldn’t abort a crossing I want to be able to do so if necessary (sails make this harder – single handed). I had to abort my last crossing (in benign conditions) because another (larger) vessel started to exit just as I had passed the break zone and was not giving me room. He was forcing me way off the leads into shallow water (Brut spins in her own length so I was easily able to do a 180 in the one trough). I had previously checked on the radio for any vessel about to cross the bar.
When entering over a bar my engine has normally been running for more than 10 hours in conditions that would have stirred up any grunge in the tank - the probability of it failing in the next 10 minutes is not high.
The cat in the above video was extremely lucky, and foolhardy – what would happen to a pilot that landed a plane at an airport closed by weather? He had others onboard that he was responsible for. The Oz Coast Guard are not known for giving advice about bar conditions (a liability issue) – for them to have advised against a crossing is rare and should have been heeded. In the time he spent waiting outside he could have cruised to a safe all-weather entrance to the north – they had a crew and were not in distress - only impatient. Cats have been known to not just pitchpole but to “bury their bows in the sand” in bars.
My approach is to go slow, but fast enough to maintain control and let any surf pass you by – surfing like the cat is exhilarating but very high risk.
Anchoring off is not an option to be relied upon. The options are to get sea room and heave to/stooge around, retreat or press on.
“When in doubt stay out”.
Cheers,
Andrew
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Old 29-07-2012, 20:15   #26
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

One of the most treacherous "bars" is the entrance to Port Phillip (or the Rip), on the approach to Melbourne (SE Australia). This picture is by Andrew Roberts is on the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria website and shows the pilot vessel going about its business on a normal day - with an ebb tide and an onshore gale. There are more pics on their site. The channel has a least depth of ~40 feet but then drops to 300+ feet over an underwater cliff. The conditions in the picture must be avoided at all costs!
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Old 29-07-2012, 22:43   #27
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

All I can say is if ya want to Sail over a bar First the wind must be right for ya to do this !! I still believe an engine is safer and a smoother way to cross any bar ! but if the bar don't settle down with the tide change better to keep on sailin !!
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Old 30-07-2012, 05:15   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew G
One of the most treacherous "bars" is the entrance to Port Phillip (or the Rip), on the approach to Melbourne (SE Australia). This picture is by Andrew Roberts is on the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria website and shows the pilot vessel going about its business on a normal day - with an ebb tide and an onshore gale. There are more pics on their site. The channel has a least depth of ~40 feet but then drops to 300+ feet over an underwater cliff. The conditions in the picture must be avoided at all costs!
Hardly a normal day in the Rip,
Days like this are not that common.
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Old 30-07-2012, 22:07   #29
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Hardly a normal day in the Rip,
Days like this are not that common.
+1for that...I think the ferries and container ships would be the only ones out in that.
And on the pilot boat...beautiful boats locally built. If you are lucky enough to be just at the outer Queenscliff mark as the pilot comes out you can see the spectacular turning ability at speed when they gun the Motors around the mark. You need to ride that wake wave...!!!
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Old 30-07-2012, 22:56   #30
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Re: Crossing a Harbour 'Bar'

The Columbia River bar is no slouch. Not my video

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