Marine Rescue urges caution when going across Merimbula bar

Photo taken at the start of November showing the sand bar that has developed at the entrance to Merimbula Lake.
Photo taken at the start of November showing the sand bar that has developed at the entrance to Merimbula Lake.

With just days to go before the border opens and the area sees the full return of Victorian visitors, there are warnings for fishers aiming to take their boats across the Merimbula Bar.

Many visitors may not realise how much the configuration of the bar has changed since the last time they visited.

Marine Rescue Merimbula is restricted to a five-hour window in daylight hours that its boat can go out to sea - three hours before high tide and up to two hours after high tide.

READ ALSO

The development of two large sand bars has pushed the channel close to the fish platform and Bar Beach but it has also meant the channel has narrowed considerably.

Unit Commander Marine Rescue Merimbula Sonia Teston explained that the waves are standing up at the start of the bar and this means you "have to attack it from a different angle".

"It's not unsafe but you need to know what you're doing, it's shifting all the time. It's not an easy bar to cross," Ms Teston cautioned.

She said anyone thinking of crossing the bar needs to check the tide times to ensure there is enough water to cross it and also to watch the bar and see what happens if they are unfamiliar with it.

Marine Rescue Merimbula is restricted to five hours of operation in daylight hours to assist boats in trouble, because of issues with Merimbula bar.

Marine Rescue Merimbula is restricted to five hours of operation in daylight hours to assist boats in trouble, because of issues with Merimbula bar.

"Stand off at Bar Beach and make a determination whether it is safe to take your boat and passengers out," Ms Teston said.

But the Merimbula Big Game and Lakes Angling Club president Peter Haar said the club was concerned that the bar could become too difficult for anyone to cross.

"We are concerned about the businesses of Merimbula and tourism and we're thinking of convening a meeting of stakeholders," Mr Haar said.

"I'm not suggesting we know what the solution is but if it becomes too difficult to get in and out the Australian Maritime Safety Authority could close the bar to commercial use," Mr Haar said.

There has been concern about the bar since much earlier in the year although at that time people were more optimistic about the bar righting itself naturally. But this hasn't happened despite several big weather events.

"I would have thought that by now mother nature would have taken care of it," Ms Teston said.

"I thought it would go away," Mr Haar said.

"The last time was in 2017 and it lasted six weeks. This time it's been over 12 months," he said.

"With the entrance becoming shallower and much less well defined we are very concerned for the safety of boaters crossing this bar," Mr Haar said.

Comments