Wide Bay bar warning – light realigned after significant shoaling

Our thanks to Mysailing reader John Graham who sent us this important update from the Tin Can Bay Coast Guard:

On 16 March 2017, a hydrographic survey of the Wide Bay Bar was conducted to ascertain the degree of shoaling on the Bar. As a result of this survey, MSQ advised that the Hook Point light required realignment on a new bearing to indicate a safer track across the Bar.

Last Thursday evening, we took an officer from MSQ Urangan out onto the Wide Bay Bar to carry out checks on the realigned Hook Point sector light. This task has now been completed, RESULTING IN A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE TO NAVIGATION OF THE WIDE BAY BAR. 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.

MSQ have issued a new Notice to Mariners – NtM 153/2017 (which replaces the short-lived NtM 152, which replaced NtM 149, which replaced NtM 112, which replaced NtM 101! If you’re using any of those NtMs to navigate the Bar, you can discard them as the information they contain is no longer current.) A link to download NtM 153 can be found at the bottom of this post.

The content of NtM 153 is a bit thin on the ground as it only advises of the new bearing from seaward to the Hook Point light (i.e., the bearing from Ref Point 1 to Ref Point 2 inbound crossing) so please don’t shoot the messenger! However, it also includes an amended chartlet derived from the hydrographic survey (see photo but DO NOT use this for navigation purposes) which indicates the new track across the bar and the extent of shoaling on the previous track. The new track may result in a few raised eyebrows, but again, don’t shoot the messenger.

Revised reference points for crossing the WBB have been derived from the amended bearing. The set of reference points also includes the old “WPT 3” in the channel off Inskip Point, which has become Reference Point 3. The information/fact sheet for crossing the WBB has been amended, so if you have an old fact sheet, discard it and please call into the base or email us to obtain the updated fact sheet.


Due to the new track now crossing a sandbank, we recommend that vessels with drafts exceeding 1m should cross the Bar in the last two hours of the incoming tide and preferably at high tide. When strong wind and sea conditions prevail, crossing the Bar is not recommended. Mariners cross the Wide Bay Bar at any time at their own risk. If in doubt, DO NOT CROSS.

We advise all mariners navigating the Wide Bay Bar to:

• Check in with our Radio room to obtain the latest information BEFORE commencing a bar crossing

• LOG ON before you commence a crossing (even if it is only for coverage while crossing the Bar)

• AVOID crossing the Bar at low tide and in the bottom half of an outgoing tide

• Exercise due care, caution and attention at all times while crossing the Bar

• WEAR LIFE JACKETS while crossing the Bar regardless of the type and size of vessel.

Using the old reference/waypoints to cross the Bar now has considerable risk, so please share this information to any for whom it is useful.

Link to NtM – look for 153 and 162: http://www.thenavigationcentre.com.au/Notice to Mariners/2017/edition_5_153-191_2017.pdf

Please note: The Hook Point light is a FIXED WHITE LIGHT BY DAY, not a Isophase 4s (day) as recorded on the chartlet accompanying the NtM.

Updating Charts

To understand the process by which your chartplotter information is updated, we asked Navionic's John McDonald for an explanation. Here is what he said:

Generally changes from NTM’s are pretty quick to flow through once the data has been received by Navionics production from the relevant source. These are usually collated by the relevant source and sent on a regular basis, not instantly that they are published, usually a week or two would be a typical lag time.

Sonarchart updates can vary depending on level of activity, in European and US summer there are significantly more logs being uploaded and the processing time can blow out at times but recently I was made aware of logs processed in five days and available on the latest dataset for download. At any times if a Navionics customer wishes to view the currently available dataset they can visit the Navionics web site where we have an interactive map that will allow the user to see charts anywhere in the world to determine what is currently available. Choose the “Web App” link off the Navionics home page.

Wide Bay Bar particularly is very problematic (as are the majority of similar bar crossings) when it comes to keeping charts up to date. They can change in the blink of an eye after a storm and Navionics charts are reliant on the data from the officiating body. If it’s been made official via NTM’s then it will get onto the charts, if it’s just advice from the local VMR then that’s not going to get included.

From reading your article it would seem that there is a change to the sector light, but I would doubt that MSQ or Australian Hydrographic Office have conducted a survey to reflect the bottom detail that has been referred to. Knowing that bar very well, I can attest to contacting the local VMR as one of the definitive sources there and if in doubt it’s a big trip around the outside!

I have had many discussions with people that have run foul of that bar simply because their agenda was a lovely stop at Garry’s Anchorage and they simply didn’t want to bite the bullet and take that long and potentially very uncomfortable road around Indian Head! The sector light there can also be quite hard to see if approaching in the morning with the sun low at your back and shining direct onto the light. It’s pretty common for people not to rely on that at all in lieu of the up-to-date waypoints from VMR and good visual assessment of the bar before undertaking the crossing.

How To Get Updates

All Navionics charts come with 12 months of included updates from purchase. The customer needs to register the chart online via the Navionics Chart Installer programme which also facilitates the chart updates. They can update daily, weekly, monthly, or at any frequency for the 12 months. For people with old charts, they can purchase a Navionics Update kit at 50% off the full price of the chart or they can trade in their existing card via a Navionics dealer or with us for a fresh card at same discount.

More information at  http://www.navionics.com.

Note that all Navionics charts come with the following warning and this even appears as a pop up that needs to be acknowledged on the plotter screen on start up:

WARNINGS: The electronic chart is an aid to navigation designed to facilitate the use of authorized government charts, not to replace them. Only official government charts and notices to mariners contain all information needed for the safety of navigation, and as always, the captain is responsible for their prudent use.


M.O.S.S Australia
JPK 11.80 July 2024
JPK 11.80 July 2024