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Thread: Crossing the bar

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    West Bank Skipanon River
    Posts
    37

    Default Crossing the bar

    Education and preparing to cross the bar....Good Question Todd. It shows the right attitude. Ocean fishing can be an all out blast. There is pleanty of room to fish and in some cases pleanty of fish to catch. The key is before you head out and attempt to cross the bar is preparing for the venture and being educated on how to do it in a safe way.

    There are a few publications and webb resourses that help with the education portion. I have had a copy of Chapmans Piloting for a few years now. It has a couple of chapters on small boat piloting and how to cross a ocean bar. It covers how to avoid pitch polling and broaching. IT also cover how to ride the back of a wave and avoid cresting over a wave. It is a book well worth reading. You could check it out at the library I supose. There are other chapters that might not be of use, but some of them are interesting.

    Another sourse is a http://www.leeroysramblings.com/Weat...small_boat.htm
    This site is put together by a guy who has crossed the bar in small boats many times. He has some very good safety information. It's information I use everytime I cross a bar.

    I fish off the mouth of the Columbia River and thus cross the Columbia River Bar. I have fished out of Newport and Garibaldi. All these ports have bars and the same information applies to them all.

    Prepraration and timing are key elements to making a crossing. I start by keeping and eye on the weather. I check serveral ocean weather sources to see what the ocean conditions are going to be. Here is one I check all the time. http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/data/Foreca...US56.KPQR.html

    The first thing I look for of course is a small craft advisory, like the one in effect right now. That advisory will keep my boat secured to the dock. The next things I look for are wind speed, wind wave height, swell height, and time between swells. Different folks go out with different variables. For myself 15 knot winds, wind waves over 3 feet, short set swell, or a combined 10 foot sea. I will not go out in those conditions. Swell height pluss wind wave height equall combined sea. The idea is to go out on the ocean and have fun, not to go out and beat yourself around on a ruff ocean.

    Tides are also very key to get the timing right on. There is the flood tide (Incoming) and the ebb tide (outgoing). There are also minus ebb tides. The softes bars to cross are on days when there is the least amount of tidal exchange. A minus ebb tide makes for a ruffer bar.

    I time my bar crossing to be at the begining of the high tide. That is about an hour after low tide. That gives me planty of time to fish the ocean and return at the top of high tide. I try to avoid crossing on an ebb tide. That is when the river is rushing out hard and hiting the ocean causing at time a dangerous situation.

    When I return I try to make it in by the top of high tide. That is when the river is not hitting the ocean so hard. The is a rule called the rule of twelves. It is covered in the leeroy ramblings post. A tide set is for the most part 6 hours long. In the first hour 1/12 of the tide water moves, in the second hour 2/12 move in the 3 and fouth hour 3/12 move, fifth hour 2/12 then sixth hour 1/12. So in the six hours the tide moves at different rates. The softes point are the hours closest to the switch point, the two hours where only 1/12 of the water is moving.

    When coming back in from the ocean I try to ride the back portion of the swells and do not go over the swells, that can put you in a postion to either pitch poll or broach. It is better to let the swell run away from you rather than run over it. Also never get sideways in a trough chance are you may broach. Remember those swells can run at up to 30mph. The Chapman book covers these issues in depth.

    I see all kinds of craft out there in the ocean. My personal preference is a boat with a closed bow. If I should take a wave over my bow I want it do go right off the boat. In an open bow boat water at 8lbs a gallon loads the bow. Just something to think about. I do see lots of open boats out there. The other thing I like to have is a self bailing deck. That's just something I prefer for safety, lots of boats venture out without them. Other safety items....VHF radio I carry two. One is a DCS hard wire and the other is hand held, pleanty of type one life vest, a compass, I carry three, first aid kit, flare gun, charst plotter, I carry two, and paper charts, life ring, and three throw bag,and fire extinguishers. The other thing I cary on the boat is extra water and food incase the USCG restricts the bar and you need to stay out for the next tide cycle. In the event you can not get back in at the bar you cross you may have to travel to another bar or circle the whistle buoy until it is safe to cross. That extra water and food may come in handy.

    The last thing I will mention is to stay focused on the bar. You job as pilot is to get your crew out and back safely. I keep a keen eye out for other boat in and around they bar. That is where you will see a lot of traffic and they might not see you. I have my crew help me keep an eye out for crab pot buoys and other items in the water that could be a hazard.

    Just my opinion the best bar to cross is Newport. It's a good place to learn then move onto other bars.
    Last edited by Irishrover; 07-29-2014 at 09:50 PM.
    Don't listen to fairy tales.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    4,347

    Default

    Great info, thanks for posting
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Lake Oswego Or.
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    1,431

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    Thanks Irishrover I do appreciate you taking the time to write that up and it gives me a good starting point.
    I crossed the Columbia bar almost 10 years ago now, on a 45' sail boat in less than perfect conditions. Gave me a huge respect for the serious business it can quickly become. Looking forward to getting myself feeling prepared to take the plunge so to speak.
    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Linnton, OR
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    This is some wonderful information, thank you for sharing Irishrover! I'm sure that this comes in handy to many of our members.
    Teddy Wise - Senior Moderator, NWFI

    http://therealwiseone.blogspot.com/

    OSU Class of 2013 - Go Beavs
    B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
    Fisheries Technician with WDFW

    "The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." ~ John Buchan

    Death is Certain - Fishing is Not

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    West Bank Skipanon River
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Happy to post the information. I hope it is usfull to someone.
    Don't listen to fairy tales.

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