Coastal Trips and Understanding Weather, Tides and Swell

This information has been prepared by one of our experienced ocean paddlers. When planning a coastal paddle  seek the following weather information from the internet:
·        BoM (Bureau of Metorology) coastal forecast for the related region but also looking at the adjacent region when the trip is on or near the cusp (e.g. a paddle on Broken Bay would have me looking at both Sydney and Hunter regions,  Seal Rocks would have me checking Hunter and Macquarie coast regions).  If it’s a multi day trip I’ll look at forecasts for the day before and the day after.
·        BoM tidal predictions for related area – for instance, I don’t want to be paddling out of/in to Port Stephens on a strong ebb tidal flow – particularly when there’s opposing wind and swell.  Tidal range is often a consideration.   State of tide will determine whether some spots along my planned route or at destination are landable or not.
·        BoM land-based forecast for related area (e.g. when paddling in the Sydney region I look at the Sydney Metro forecast – it gives stuff that isn’t on the coastal waters forecasts such as UV ratings, prospect of rain in % terms and volume)
·        BoM rain radar – gives an indication of how heavy falls are, where they are and where they may be heading.
·        BoM observations to pick up any developing trends and to get a feel for how adverse predictions are developing.  For instance, if a southerly change is predicted and I plan to paddle in the Sydney region, I’ll look at the obs from the AWS’s down the coast to get an idea of when the change might hit Sydney.
·        Sunset times in winter – always planning to be off the water at least an hour before sunset unless intentionally planning a night paddle
·        Manly Hydraulic Laboratory’s reports from the wave rider buoys it has along the coast of NSW.  This gives me a better insight in to swell height, direction and strength than I get from the BoM coastal forecast.    The Sydney Ports Authority has a wave rider buoy off Botany Bay that provides obs on wave/swell height and strength (period).

Secondary sites I visit include Seabreeze, Swellnet and Willyweather.

After most coastal paddles, I’ll look at the BoM and MHL obs for the related area and see how they lined up with predictions.  This also lets me relate my level of comfort and wellbeing to the conditions encountered.
I’ve never paid too much attention to water temperatures other than those times when I’m contemplating immersion activity (e.g. rolling practise).  Likewise with ocean currents although I hear the occasional story of paddlers encountering the East Australian Current (don’t think I’ve ever experienced it).
I really like what I’ve seen of MetEye. Seek to reproduce the 4-page brochure the BOM were giving out at the Boat Show 2014

THE ROUTES dislpayed on maps provide an idea of the direction when looking at a map and a description rather than just a description.

The paddle routes are indicative only and not intended to be used for navigation purposes. .

There are some difficluties trying to draw routes suitable for use for navigation. A greater level of precision and work would be required. Also, hazards change with tide and swell and it isn't possible to cover all possibilities. We often paddle outside boating channels at high tide to keep out of the way of weekend boat traffic.  At low tide some of these areas are above the waterline.  Similarly, areas marked as hazards on NSW Maritime maps can be quite benign in low swell and the right tide.

I think that maps should also have a disclaimer.  NSW Maritime uses the wording "This map is not intended to be used for navigational purposes".  That would do.