Bar Crossings

They 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 also be extremely dangerous. They are called Bars, such as can be found at Manukau, Kaipara, Raglan and many other areas in New Zealand and around the world.

Many experienced boaties have got into difficulty crossing a bar and each year, boats are damaged and people are killed or injured when attempts to navigate bar crossings go wrong.

Coastguard Northern Region runs a number of seminars and events to help boaties better manage the risks associated with bar crossings. More information on these is available here.

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 exisiting 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
  • Once over and clear of the bar, close your Bar Watch report.

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


How to cross a bar safely.

Even for the most experienced boaties, bar crossings are a high-risk activity. These clips provide information on how to make safer bar crossings.







Last updated 18 December 2015