How to Safely Cross the Wide Bay Bar.

The Wide Bay Bar at Inskip Point is a classic and treacherous Queensland bar to cross. Many a boatie has found grief while attempting to cross this bar.

But the situation is made even more difficult by shifting sands.

And that caused Marine Safety Queensland to change the line of the Hook Point directional light.​


This is ensure Queensland boaties were over the deepest water when travelling across the Wide Bay Bar.

The Tin Can Bay Coast Guard said that shifting sandbanks and shoaling that has occurred over the years has made the change necessary.

Several vessels got into strife after hitting sandbanks that encroached onto the centre line bearing of the Hook Point light. 

Wide Bay Bar and GC Tin Can Bay

Coast Guard Tin Can Bay alerted MSQ of the problems. As a result, MSQ conducted hydrographic surveys in March 2016. This confirmed that the bar was on the move.

"Coastal bars are dynamic in nature, and the Wide Bay Bar has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous on the Queensland coast because of the length of the crossing (over 3nm), its distance offshore, the length of time it takes for our rescue crews to reach and then the bar (up to 1 hour depending on conditions) and the effects weather conditions have on the seas thereabouts.” said CG Tin Can Bay spokesperson.

This change has seen the seaward Reference Point 1 move due north by approximately 0.5 nautical mile onto a new centre line bearing to the Hook Point white light of 269.6 degrees True.

Due to the new track now crossing a sandbank, the Tin Can Bay Coastguard recommend that vessels with drafts exceeding 1m should cross the Wide Bay Bar in the last two hours of the incoming tide and preferably at high tide.

Check the Latest Notices to Mariners for this area for the updated information

For those navigating their voyage with the old reference and waypoints to cross the Bar but their vessel and their lives at risk from hitting sandbanks that are now in shallow water with depths of less than 3m.

"The ramifications of hitting one of these sandbanks could be catastrophic and result in damaged vessels and at worst, injury and loss of life,” The Coast Guard said.

For the latest details guidance call the Tin Can Bay Coastguard on 5486 4290 or

Wide Bay Bar Crossing

wide bay bar notices to mariners

Four Steps to Cross the Wide Bay Safely

​Step 1. Pick Your Time

The best time to cross the Wide Bay Bar is to arrive off the bar on a rising tide – at least two hours after low tide.

It is more difficult to enter the bar with the sun in your eyes, so pick your time of approach.

Step 2. Approach the Bar

Take all the necessary precautions. Put on your life jackets. When crossing a coastal bar such as Wide Bay, each person on an open boat less than 4.8m must wear an approvade life jacket or PFD.

However, bigger boats have also come adrift so the best advice is for every one in a boat to wear a life jacket. If not, have on close at hand.

Prepare all the moveable objects on the boat.

Check the Notices To Mariners for the Area so you are aware of new and existing conditions.

Step 3. ​Contact Coast guard Tin can bay

The    Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue Groups    are there to help.

Alert CG Tin Can Bay about your intentions so they can monitor your progress and be alerted is ever you need help.

They can also provide you with the current conditions of the Wide Bay Bar.

Prepare all the moveable objects on the boat.

Take a good hard look at the current map showing the leads.

Step 4. ​​Stay the course

​Depths jump up as you approach the outer waypoint.

This can be a little worrying but it is normal. It is much deeper once you are clear of the bar. Once committed follow the leads.

Use common sense about sticking rigidly to the leads.

​Reward yourself with a high five once through.