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Old 08-18-2017, 07:20 PM   #1
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Inlet / bar crossing in a trawler?

How does one hit an inlet or cross a bar in a big low speed trawler when the current is ripping? Wait for the the tide to settle, or just let the full displacement weight take the brunt of the waves and course correct as best you can?
I presume the former, but figured I'd ask the pros.

Thanks
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:36 PM   #2
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If the skipper isn't confident in his or the boat's abilities to navigate a difficult bar crossing, waiting is always the best thing to do. Purposely navigating into a treacherous bar crossing and trusting to "as best you can" is not a good strategy.

That said, there are certain techniques and of course experience that can make a big difference in one's ability to safely cross a difficult bar. I boat out of the Merrimack River in Massachusetts which has at times one of the most difficult bar crossings on the east coast. Depending on whether one is heading out or in, speeding up or slowing down, taking the waves at a better angle, looking for an area where the waves are slightly less, and timing the waves, can all help. But always don't feel it has to be done now and try to recognize that situation.

Usually an outgoing tide with waves coming into the inlet causes the worst conditions. Any inlet should be treated with caution under those conditions until a visual check confirms it's safe to proceed.

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Old 08-18-2017, 07:36 PM   #3
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There are few real bars to cross on the east coast/loop.

There are numerous inlets with sand bar blocked openings at most tide levels, but there usually are enough, safe to navigate inlets nearby without breakets in the channel.

Any inlet with a ripping outgoing tidal current and stiff opposing wind can be sloppy, but usually not dangerous unless there are storm swells breaking in any shallow spots. Atlantic swells just arent of the regular magnitude of the Pacific's.

Listen to local knowledge and looping, you should never have a problem unlesz you are a daredevil.
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:43 PM   #4
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Inlet / bar crossing in a trawler?

Thanks for the quick reply guys.

Could an opposing current ever exceed your max hull speed, causing reverse progress?
As an example, I've seen some videos of haulover and not sure an 8knot tank could overcome that current? So that would be a wait it out situation.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:24 PM   #5
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If the boat cannot make reasonable headway, my guess is 2 knots, against an opposing current then wait.
I,m on the west coast and I've seen boats that couldn't make headway eventually lose and simply get spun ,not turn around, but lose it and get spun. That was without any large waves, just a strong opposing current.
If that spin puts you into a shallow area, rocks or an opposing boat then you lose big time.
Obviously there may be mitigating factors but that is suggested as a guideline I use.
Try to time entries so you avoid those strong opposing currents and time so the current is weakening.
JMO.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:28 PM   #6
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One of the most challenging area is on the st Lawrence around the Quebec City area. Current is very strong and tide adds to it. With my boat the differential speed when you are against the current is 2 knots, if you have also the tide against you, forget about it.

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Old 08-18-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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In answer to can the current be faster than the boat. The answer is YES! I have in my sailboat been past by bouy. (The bouy was fixed)
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:35 PM   #8
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Very few places have such high currents.

They are usually well advertised and discussed.

Beating them is usually just a bit of advanced planning

Remember many places in North America were discoveted by boat....sail or rowed or pulled.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:38 PM   #9
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Could an opposing current ever exceed your max hull speed, causing reverse progress?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sheesh, totally missed this specific question. Again, I'm on the west coast but YES currents can exceed your hull speed and in many cases exceed the speed of faster boats. SOme of the passes here can attain 12 or 14 knots on a big change with large whirlpools which are simply downright dangerous to slower boats.
True some high powered fast boats can skim through but heaven help them if they hit a piece of wood or lose power for any reason.
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:07 PM   #10
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The absolute best time to cross a bar is high tide, slack water. The absolute worst time is wind coming in and the tide going out. The combination can make huge, close together waves. I crossed North Pacific Coast bars hundreds of times. Mostly in a fishing boat that cruised between 7 and 9 knots. The bad ones I always plan, like Eureka and some of the little Oregon ports.
Once leaving SF, at exactly the worst time, I dipped my fishing boat into 3 consecutive waves that broke somewhere over the wheel house. Nothing but green water out the windows. And SF doesn't really have a bar, just a huge tide volume.
If I have to cross a bar at the end of a trip, I plan my cruise speed to hit the best conditions. If you cruise in good weather, 99% of the time it's easy.
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:11 PM   #11
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Not a bar, but Deception Pass in the pacific northwest is a good example of a place where current can easily exceed hull speed. Best to wait for slack (high) tide. When I went through, there were lots of people lined up along the banks (very narrow, with a great bridge overhead). It seemed as if they were waiting to watch a boat getting into trouble.

And the current doesn't have to be opposing to be a problem. Even if it is going with you, you need speed through water to maneuver, and I am not used to running my boat at 30 knots.
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:31 PM   #12
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Many places around the San juans can exceed 6kts
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:46 PM   #13
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My chart plotter is very good showing the current and predicting the current.
Used efficiently it really helps in planning when to head out or stay put until the current changes.
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach_cat View Post
Many places around the San juans can exceed 6kts
I know there is worse, in the San Juans and north, than Deception Pass, but as I recall the current there can exceed 17 knots, which is my max cruising speed.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MYTraveler View Post
When I went through, there were lots of people lined up along the banks ... It seemed as if they were waiting to watch a boat getting into trouble.
Dodd Narrows, near Nanaimo, too. Always a few picnickers on the rocks, vulture-like.
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