Originally Posted by Alan Mighty
The Caloundra Bar is not easy (by which I mean it can be dangerous) and not for novices. It's quite shoal and the location for best exit/entry likely shifts after being pounded by heavy weather
. Spending time watching it from the Happy Valley beach park, Caloundra, near Bulcock Beach and Bulcock Street, is a lesson. Not workable for an underpowered craft with any swell and the envelope for passage is quite short, around high tide. Other than small MVs, I've only seen a few sailing catamarans cross it (and only at well chosen times and in the right swell and tide conditions).
On the basis that BribieFootloose has a Honeymoon 26 with (based on StuM's wizardry at the search engine) a draught of 0.83 metres, a small rudder
, and only a two or three dozen horses on command, let's return to talking about the Caloundra Bar.
It's definitely a bar for which local knowledge is v important. Good thing about the Caloundra Bar is that local knowledge is available.
I mentioned going for a drive by land to the Happy Valley Beach Park. That's a key part of getting local knowledge about the Caloundra Bar. If you happen to have a drone, that would be even better.
Like most bars, the keys to the door are (1) finding the channel; (2) getting the boat in the channel; and (3) sticking to the channel and not being pushed away (or letting the boat wander) from the channel.
I wrote earlier that the sand at the Caloundra Bar likely shifts after a heavy pounding by windwave and swell. The changes tend to be of a pattern (i.e. there is a pattern to the chaos) although the chaos works over time. That can be said about Bribie Island itself too - the N part has a couple of locations that are prone to breakthroughs as sand gets starved from one location and built at another.
Running a drone over the bar is an eye-opener. Watching from Happy Valley beach park is almost as good. Satellite
view (from Google
Maps or Google
Earth) is a substitute (but you need to know the date of the satellite
I've attached a quick screen
grab from satellite view of Google Maps. You'll see what look like two channels (or gutters) of calm water
- the current
satellite image was made on a benign day (i.e. low swell). One of them is just a gutter that doesn't lead far.
My memory of crossing Caloundra Bar is stale. I think there was about 1 metre of water
in the channel, not much more. So quite large sailing catamarans cross the bar, but I cannot do it with any margin of safely in my Led Myne unless v close to the top of high tide.
For the local knowledge - on the day that you drive up to Caloundra to visit Happy Valley Beach Park, go visit QLD Flotilla 4 (QF4) of the Aus Volunteer Coast Guard. Telephone ahead to check that someone will be there (see contact details at: https://coastguard.com.au/flotilla/qf4-caloundra/
QF4 uses an MV with considerable engine
grunt (and steerage because of the directional nature of that grunt) to cross the bar. QF4 will likely be able to give you a waypoint for the channel when exiting to sea, and another one for the approach from sea. QF4 may even have a short course about how to best to work
the Caloundra Bar - meaning what weather conditions are suitable, under what conditions you should not try, and be able to tailor their knowledge to suit your Honeymoon 26 (which may well be quite similar to most SVs, with a small rudder
and not overpowered).
If you're not already a member
of the AVCG, feel free to join. QF4 will be able to give you the drum on the entrance to Mooloolaba harbour too.
I'll close by suggesting you'd be a mug to take the Caloundra Bar lightly. In the wrong weather, a mistake could be deadly.