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Boaties urged to take more care on bars

Thursday, 19 February 2015 10:00 a.m.

Boaties navigating the Maketu bar and the Kaituna cut have been urged to allow more time to make a safe crossing now that dry weather has led to silt build-up.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Regional Harbour Master Peter Buell said locals had always operated by a basic ‘rule of thumb’ that if conditions were reasonable, they could still safely launch their boat at Maketu and get across the bar until two hours either side of low tide.

“There is no longer a safe time to cross near low tide, and boaties should only attempt to cross the bar within three hours either side of high tide to ensure the water is deep enough,” he said.

“Any time outside of that and they risk getting caught out on the newly formed sandbar. It does mean a much shorter time limit for sailing beyond the bar.”

He said the Kaituna was even more dangerous.

“Depth over the bar at Te Tumu (also known Kaituna) is primarily influenced by the volume and speed of water flowing out to sea through the mouth on the falling tide, combined with waves and long-shore sediment drift.

“Low rainfall and dry soils over the summer period have reduced the volumes in both the Kaituna and its tributaries. That means waves and long-shore sediment drifts to build more sand onto the bar at Te Tumu by reducing the amount that is flushed out to sea.”

 “Crossing a bar is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres a boatie can do. If you’re crossing any bar you need to ensure you tell someone where you are going and when you intend to return, contact the Coastguard before the crossing and once you are safely across, and always wear a lifejacket.” 

Maketu Coastguard member Shane Beech said Police have had to be called when a couple of boats rolled when trying to negotiate the bar in recent weeks, so it was vital that skippers took note of the new conditions.

“We had one guy trapped underneath for a bit of time and Police and ambulances have been needed. It’s also important that fishers who notice someone getting into trouble call Police on 111 as soon as they see something.

“Police are going to call us anyway, so they should save time and call Police direct when they witness something.”

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is erecting new signs at the bar entrance after existing signs were vandalised. 

Regional Council Kaituna Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy said that the Kaituna re-diversion project was not expected to change navigability of either bar.

Maketu low tide