- Before heading out, check coastal weather predictions, tide times, swell height and direction.
- Heading out is potentially the most dangerous, so try to cross coastal bars in good conditions and gain experience gradually if new to offshore boating.
- Log on by VHF radio with the Volunteer Marine Rescue or Coast Guard and don't forget to close the radio loop at the end of the day.
- Check your boat's operating systems thoroughly, secure loose equipment and ensure occupants are wearing lifejackets where there is potential for interaction with swell.
- Correct engine trim has a big impact on boat handling while crossing bars.
- Trim engine in heading out to sea and trim engine out coming home in a following sea.
- If there is no surf break on the bar, maintain a steady speed.
- Where there is break aim for the area of least wave activity, or time the run through the critical section during a lull or flat period.
- Remember you are responsible for your crew, take a deep breath and remain in control without a sudden rush of blood to the head.
- When through the entrance mark it on the GPS and take a note of backmarks or take a compass heading on a prominent feature.
- Don't cross a bar unless you are confident it is safe.
- Don't lose your nerve and turn around in the face of a steep oncoming swell, it can be fatal.
- Don't use too much power or you will get airborne and out of control.
- Don't overtake a wave being ridden unless it has broken or you can see all its face from behind.
- Don't rely solely on GPS when crossing a bar, use it as a guide and react to what you are seeing breaking around you.
- Avoid large swells and run out tide combinations until you gain considerable experience.