Bass Strait Crossing

Posted by: thermalben

Bass Strait Crossing - 05/03/2003 19:26

Hey all,

I am feeling a little perplexed - I just heard an interview on JJJ from some guy that's going to cross Bass Strait on a pair of skis. He did it last year (to which there was a thread on about it), however what's got me shaking my head was the guy's opinion about the current state of the ocean.

Lets put things into perspective - Bass Strait is a very wild place. And as water skiing is meant for calm water, I would imagine that you'd be looking for the calmest ocean state possible. He's chosen his month relatively well, ie before the autumn swells really start firing through - but just for the record this summer has seen some of the most active swells for this time of year in ages. Last year he fluked a day when there was little (if any) groundswell or windswell present, and managed to make a successful crossing, if I am correct.

Anyway back to the chase: this guy was calling from his mobile, and was driving past a body of water (somewhere... Pt Phillip Bay? Tasmania? I didn't catch it), and he mentioned how he could see whitecaps but no 'breakers', and that the 'forecast' (no organisations were named) was calling for 1 to 1.5m of swell. Based on this, he expected to have a clean run through Bass Strait, and he even managed to remark how he was going to "knock off 2 hours off the world record" (the world record is 6 hours, I think).

Now that's all fine and dandy, unless you look at the current buoy readings. At 1pm today the Cape Sorell buoy (off the Tasmanian West Coast) was reading a 3.5m significant height, with peak wave heights up to 6.7m; the average period was almost at 9 seconds, with peak energy around 12-15 seconds. At the same time, the Point Lonsdale buoy was around 2.7m max height with periods around 10 & 15 seconds. This is a serious swell - it rocked up this morning around 3am (and, out of interest, was forecast on Swellnet back on Wednesday Feb 26 ). Due to it's origin and direction, it won't be dropping in a hurry. Concurrently, the surf has increased in size today in Victoria, with the exposed beaches on the Peninsula around 6'+ and Bells around 4' - sure, nothing by Hawaiian standards, but hardly a walk on the park for a small boat and it's trailing passenger.

So what's the upshot? I don't know. However for a guy to be so unprepared and so ill-informed about the state of the ocean in one of the more renowned waterways of the world, I am pretty shocked. I just hope that he makes it to the other side - or the trip gets called off.

Oh, and just for the record, the BOM\'s Bass Strait Forecast at 4:45pm today said:
Western BS: Seas to 1 metre. Southwest swell 2 to 3 metres
Northern BS: Seas to about 1 metre. Southwest swell to 1 to 1.5 metres
Southern BS:Seas 1 to 2 metres. Westerly swell near 2.5 metres in the west tending confused at 1 metre in the east
Eastern BS:South to southeast swell of 1 to 2 metres. West to southwest swell 1 to 1.5 metres

Any thoughts?


Posted by: thermalben

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 11/03/2003 15:14

Gee, it's a real shame there's such little interest in this forum... perhaps I should rename the title '12 minutes of drizzle expected for Melbourne next week'... those threads seem to attract much more attention. :rolleyes:
Posted by: liz

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 11/03/2003 16:36

Hi thermalben. Cheer up! This topic is a bit off thread, but are you going to the Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa this weekend. It is going to be interesting to see how some of the boats cope with the low river level. Liz.
Posted by: Gabby

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 11/03/2003 20:52

When is this guy going to do this crazy thing? Hope they don't expect sea rescue to help them out if they get into trouble. Would be interesting to know if he makes it safely, without endangering anyone else.
Posted by: thermalben

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 11/03/2003 21:56

hehe.. a little whinge, and they all come out of the woodwork wink

Gabby, he was planning on doing this the day after my post (March 6th), hence my concern regarding the state of the ocean. However I haven't heard anything since at all - who knows what happened?

Liz - I won't be able to make it this weekend, but it sounds like a lot of fun. Is it near the marina? You're right about the river levels; some of those old boats displace a lot of water with their v-shaped hulls... I wonder if anyone'll get stuck?
Posted by: thermalben

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 12/03/2003 13:19

ABC has posted an interesting news item regarding a lost sailor at sea - he departed from Melbourne on March 6th, the day that this skiing guy was also going to attempt to cross Bass Stait too (and the day after I started this post). His boat's just been found with no-one on board.

Since the big swell event of the 5th and 6th of March, most of Bass Strait has experienced strong southerly winds that swung fresh SE/E from Sunday/Monday. This would have created horrible conditions for anyone in anything short of a serious commercial fishing vessel; despite an overall 'drop' in wave height, the waves themselves would have been very close together (due the local origin of the swell). This is a very dangerous combination for small boats (and water skiers wink ). I hope the guy is found safely - perhaps he's in his life raft.
Posted by: liz

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 12/03/2003 20:18

Hi thermalben. The main activity for the Festival will be around the Goolwa Wharf area, which has been recently upgraded and of course the bridge to Hindmarsh Island will provide a wonderful viewing platform. Liz.
Posted by: Thunderstruck

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 17/03/2003 16:19

Well it just goes to show how stupid some people really are...I mean sure cross the damn place on a day of calmer seas...but that swell event hardly constitutes that!! Hope the guy is found tho...

TS cool
Posted by: thermalben

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 02/04/2003 13:03

I can't believe it. I was expecting this thread to die a lonely death, but checking the ABC Online News has shown that he's still at it!!

Posted: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 12:02 AEST
Bass Strait skier aborts latest attempt
A man hoping to set a record for skiing across Bass Strait has had to abort yet another attempt.
An attempt by former leukaemia sufferer Brenton McGrath to ski from Stanley in Tasmania's north-west has been scrapped because of the weather.
The independent timekeeper for the crossing, Simon Williamson, says they had no option but to cancel the attempt.
"The conditions are deteriorating out on the Strait to a point where we weren't going to break the record," he said.
"We could have certainly persevered with it and crossed but we've already crossed it once and the object now and the reason we keep coming back is to break the record."
McGrath has made four previous attempts to set a record for the Bass Strait crossing on skis
Now, the current swell set up inside Bass Strait is nothing short of phenomenal at the moment. A new groundswell arrived at the Cape Sorrel buoy (Tasmanian west coast) last night, with peak swell period around 22 seconds - this is true Hawaiian-style power. The wave height at the buoy has risen solidly through the morning, with significant height at 11am around 4.5m (18'), peaking at 7.9m (26'). On top of that, the wind is increasing from the south, so there's going to be a noticeable increase in windswell on top of the massive groundswell. The Pt Lonsdale buoy (near the entrace to Pt Phillip Bay) is also on the increase, with peak period clocked in around 22sec and peak wave heights now up around 2.5m.

This is a SERIOUS swell situation, and the guy is thinking about traversing this stretch of water being towed behind a boat on a pair of skis?

Interestingly, the BOM's Bass Strait forecast doesn't really paint this scenario to its fullest extent. This forecast was issued just an hour ago, but this morning's forecast had smaller swell and wave heights noted for today.

BOM Forecast for Bass Strait and Victorian Coastal Waters
Issued at 1210 on Wednesday the 2nd of April 2003
Wednesday until midnight : South/southeast wind 10/15 knots freshening to 20/25
knots from the west during the day. Seas to 1 metre rising 2 to 3 metres by the
afternoon. Southwesterly swell rising 2 to 2.5 metres.
Thursday : Southeasterly winds 20/25 knots decreasing to 15/20 knots later in
the day. Seas 2 to 3 metres abating to 1 to 2 metres during the day.
Southwesterly swell 2 to 3 metres.
Wednesday until midnight : Southerly wind 10/15 knots increasing to 20/25 knots
during the afternoon. Seas to 1 metre increasing to 2 to 3 metres during the
afternoon. Southwesterly swell rising to around 1.5 metres.
Thursday : Southeasterly winds at 20/25knots easing 15/20knots later in the
day. Seas 2 to 3 metres abating to 1.5 to 2.5 metres. Southwesterly swell 1 to 2
Wednesday until midnight : Southwesterly wind 10 to 15 knots. Wind increasing
20/30 knots from the west later in the evening. Seas to around 1 metre, rising 2
to 3 metres from the west later. Southeasterly swell to 1 metre.
Thursday : South/southwest winds of 15/25 knots tending south/southeast during
the morning. Winds locally 30 knots over eastern waters. Seas 2 to 3 metres.
Southeasterly swell rising 1 to 2 metres.
Wednesday until midnight : Southwest winds increasing to 15/25 knots this
afternoon then turning southeasterly tonight. Winds possibly reaching 30 knots
in the west, east and offshore. Winds lighter inshore at times. Seas rising 2 to
3 metres offshore. Westerly swell 1 to 2 metres.
Thursday : Southeast winds 15/25knots, possibly reaching 30knots in the west,
east and offshore. Winds lighter inshore at times. Seas rising 2 to 3 metres
Posted by: Thunderstruck

Re: Bass Strait Crossing - 02/04/2003 15:26

The guy must be warped eek He will try one time too many soon, i can see it coming...

TS cool