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Crossing the bar – Coastguard urges safety first2 min read

Dec 2, 2021 2 min

Crossing the bar – Coastguard urges safety first2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Following a number of tragedies on the Manukau Harbour recently, Coastguard New Zealand is once again reminding everyone about logging a trip report or bar crossing.


You can log a Bar Crossing report by calling *500 on your mobile or contacting Coastguard radio from your VHF Radio and providing the following information:

  • The name and/or VHF Call Sign of your boat.
  • Which bar you’re crossing (including whether you’re heading in or out over the bar).
  • Your current location.
  • Destination, route and estimated time of arrival (ETA).
  • Number of people on board (POB).

The Coastguard Radio team will put you on a SAR (search and rescue) watch for between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the bar you’re crossing. You then close your Bar Crossing report when you’re safely over; otherwise, a search alert will be initiated as soon as you fail to make contact within the allocated time frame.

Coastguard head of operations, Rob McCaw, says, “Our three units based on the Manukau Harbour have an exceptional record of responding to, and saving, boaties who get into difficulty. Many lives have been saved by our volunteers on the Manukau, but regrettably it’s simply not feasible for our entirely volunteer crews to be ‘on station’ at all times for such a large body of water, and we rely on boaties logging a bar crossing report for us to monitor their safety as they cross.”

Before going out on the water, all boaties, including jet skiers, should take the time to ensure their vessels are fully checked and prepped. Run a full check on engines and batteries, and replace old fuel with clean, fresh fuel before setting out.

“Skippers should also double check the fundamentals of boating safety before launching – lifejackets for everyone on boat, having two forms of waterproof communication and keeping an eye on local marine weather before heading out. Logging your trip with the Coastguard App is a quick and easy way to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back. It also helps to reduce traffic on the VHF Radio with our radio operator numbers limited with the current restrictions,” says Coastguard CEO, Callum Gillespie.

Side bar

Additional safety tips for crossing the Manukau Bar:

  • Always check the swell, tide and wind conditions – every crossing of the Manukau Bar is different because of these factors.
  • Always try and cross the bar during daylight hours.
  • Make sure that everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket and is awake.
  • Crossing at high tide is best (but always take the weather and swell into consideration too).
  • Ensure that you are carrying two forms of communication that work even when wet.
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!

There is also a great Coastguard app for fisherman and boaties. Through the app you can keep yourself safe.


A Coastguard New Zealand patrol boat on Manukau Harbour – supplied by Coastguard NZ