Not a good way to start out the crab season.
Crossing a bar is one of the most dangerous boating activities. It is always considered to be a time of heightened risk. Conditions of bars change rapidly according to the influences of wind, current, and sea. Thorough local knowledge is a lifesaving requirement. Have a look at this chilling video which is self explanatory.
“Is this trip necessary?”
Bar crossings are damn tough. This requies a special skill set.
It looked like that 300’ coast guard cutter was unable to head up and was being set on the beach until that big roll where the sea spun her head up and pushed her stern around as she was coming back on her feet. Once she was headed up she had it made, but it was still hard going.
I’m not going to try to describe a rough bar crossing with a tug and barge because no one believes it until they experience it first hand.
Columbia River is notorious as a dangerous bar, but actually it’s one of the best. It’s long, it takes forever to get across, it will be a wild ride, but it’s very wide and gives you a lot of room to work.
The little narrow bars where it’s a struggle to keep the barge on the ranges and afloat are the worst. These bars usually have a sharp turn just inside. Hint: You start in on a short wire, but but the time you get in, you’ll have had to slip out a lot of wire. There is no room to make up. No assist boats available, and the barge has to be landed at the dock on the wire. Local knowledge and practice are essential.
Avoid bar crossings if you can. In rough bar conditions, stay at the dock, or well offshore. If you are going to do bar crossings, do it with proven boats and an experienced company with many years of institutional knowledge. Don’t do bar crossings with the “low bidder” from out of state with minimal bar crossing experience.
actually that video was not the best to try to show a bar crossing since the ship was headed out of the inlet and into the seas. The bar crossings that are traditionally viewed as such hell on earth are when you are headed inbound with the seas astern. It is the absolute worst as you describe when you have a big barge on the wire astern.
You have heading control going out if you have enough HP and a big enough rudder but coming in, you have no control of your heading when those huge seas lift your stern up like they do. The master of the Mary B II had no business trying to come in like he did and should have just remained offshore until the bar conditions moderated.
I noticed that the crew of the f/v was all from the East Coast.
There are a few things to consider when crossing a bar. The first and most important consideration for crossing most bars is timing. Bar conditions are strongly influenced by tides, therefore always keep your tide book at hand.
Tide currents may be so strong that smaller or slower vessels simply can’t make headway against it, and it can quickly sweep a vessel into dangerously shallow water and breaking surf. Strong ebb currents have dramatic effect on the sea state, thus never cross a bar during ebb tide.
The safest time to cross a bar is during the relatively brief slack-water period between flood (incoming) and ebb (outgoing) tide, the so called dead tide.
NOAA OPC wave analysis Tuesday night shows significant wave heights of 15-22 feet
I was heartbroken to read about this, but not at all surprised, it’s a very treacherous area and the small Coast Guard unit there in Newport is kept busy. We have our Pacific HQ (MOC-P) there…don’t ask me my opinion on moving it from Seattle, but I am not alone in my sentiment. RIP to the poor fellows just trying to make a living.
To Dutchie: we have waited at times for many hours before heading in across that bar, for the very reasons you stated.