27 Oct 2019

Cameras to help boaties over dangerous bar crossings

7:50 pm on 27 October 2019

Cameras providing live images for boaties of three dangerous bars on Waikato's west coast are now up and running.

Bar camera in Raglan.

A camera now offers images that will help boaties navigate a bar at Raglan. Photo: Supplied / Waikato Regional Council

The cameras have been installed at Port Waikato, Raglan and Kāwhia.

Waikato Regional Council senior harbourmaster Chris Bredenbeck said crossing a bar was high-risk for even the most experienced boatie.

He said the cameras would help skippers make the best decision possible in deciding whether or not to cross a bar.

"It will help inform them of the conditions right now as you are looking at it and a photograph last taken within a minute is a pretty amazing piece of information if you are trying to make that decision."

Mr Bredenbeck said crossing bars was the most dangerous part of boating.

The tidal flow coming in and out of harbours crossed over a shallow part at the entrance, creating a swell or waves.

"It can turn a nice, comfortable half-a-metre roller into a standing wave if you are in the wrong conditions."

Mr Bredenbeck said bars were dangerous in any harbour, however conditions on the west coast were more exposed than the east coast.

"Our prevailing winds come from the south-west, we have a more exposed ocean, so we tend to carry bigger swells on the west coast."

The cameras are independently powered by a solar battery.

They will also aid in the rescue of capsized boats by providing up-to-date, real-time positions of where vessels and their occupants are. Coastguard has access to the cameras.

"If a boat has come to grief there should be quite a few photos of what is occurring before such time that it goes under," Mr Bredenbeck said.

The regional council said this would aid in any rescue and reduce the search time in potentially dangerous conditions.

The camera project has cost $17,500, which has come from the council's innovation fund and Vodafone.

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