Despite becoming increasingly silted up over the past three years, the Swansea Channel into Lake Macquarie will provide adequate depths at most stages of the tide for out-of-lake Heaven Can Wait yacht race boats up to approximately 1.9 m draft, according to the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol's Lake Macquarie Division.
Planned dredging of the channel during September by Lake Macquarie City Council should alleviate any problems in time for the 2008 HCW 24 hour race.
With the current, undredged channel, some minor difficulties can occur, but with the assistance of the Patrol vessel, are easily overcome, said divisional commander Frank Jarvie said that the channel was experiencing a build up of sand between Pelican Marina and the 'drop-over' at Mark's Point.
'A vessel of 2.2 m draft was recently escorted into the lake, although progress was halted when the vessel became stuck and required a tow. The same vessel, however, left the lake unassisted.
'Obviously it's best for deeper-draft yachts to come through at the top of the tide, but we would not expect any yachts up to 2 m draft to have any problems, especially once the work on the channel is completed,' Frank said.
Lake Macquarie City Council is scheduled to work on removing the 'humps' from the section mentioned above at the beginning of September, with the aim of completion by October.
That means that yachts coming up to the lake for the Heaven Can Wait 24 Hour Yacht Race on the October long weekend (October 4-6) are unlikely to experience any problems coming through the channel.
'We are happy to accompany any yachts who think they may have a problem through the channel, and if necessary use our boat's wash to help them over any bumps – or even provide a tow if absolutely necessary. However, we don't believe towing would be required,' he said.
With the Lake Macquarie Division of the RVCP an important part of the HCW 24 hour race – it provides on-water support and rescue services, and receives a portion of the funds raised for charity – Frank said that boats coming up or down the coast to the lake should log in with Coastal Patrol for their passages.
'If boats log in with us, and let us know they are coming up for the HCW race, we will certainly look after them,' he said.
'As they approach the entrance to the channel, we can advise on conditions, and also take care of booking bridge openings for them.
'In addition, any deeper-draft boats can advise us of their drafts, and we can accompany them through the channel if required.'
RVCP Lake Macquarie can be contacted on VHF Channel 16 or Channel 88 27MHz – or via Coastal Patrol stations up and down the coast – or on phone (02) 4971 3723.
Tides at the Swansea Bar (seaward side of the bridge) for the weekend before the race according to the Bureau of Meteorology are as follows: Saturday, September 27:
Low tide (0.42 m) 1235 hrs
High tide (1.71 m) 1850 hrs Sunday, September 28:
Low tide (0.38 m) 1323 hrs
High tide (1.67 m) 1933 hrs
Tidal over-run out of the lake means that high tide at the 'drop-over' is two and a half hours after high tide at Swansea Bar; however the tide range at this point is minimal.
Full information on the 2008 HCW 24 hour yacht race, including the NOR and course map, along with channel charts and tide times for the Swansea Bar, are now available on the event's website at www.heavencanwait.com.au
Details of how to join the club and enter for the race are also now up on the website
For further information, please contact Shaun Lewicki on 0458 494620, email info@.heavencanwait.com.au