Beware moving sandbanks and other marine hazards! - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Crewman David Harris reviews a chart after a recent Notice to Mariners was issued. Photo: Brisbane Coast Guard.


Long-time Moreton Bay fishermen know that the sandbanks in Moreton Bay change over time. These changes happen rapidly in timescales measuring months rather than years. For example, the Rous Channel used today is not the same exit to South Passage Bar from 12 months ago, and beacons and markers move, fall over or are temporarily out of order.

“A lot of water rushes in and out of the bay as tides come and go, which moves the sand on the bottom around,” Coast Guard skipper Paul Burchell said.

“We’re called out regularly to help vessels with damaged props or stern drives because they’ve hit a newly formed sandbank.

“Just because you successfully transited a channel three or four months ago, don’t only follow the track on your GPS. Keep a lookout for indications on the surface such as unusual breaking water that might indicate shallow water, and if necessary, slow down so you can monitor your depth finder carefully and stop in time to avoid bottoming out.”

Other hazards include vessels that sink and are barely visible under the surface, markers that fall over because they were hit or someone tied up to them, and temporary obstructions such as dredges.

Maritime Safety Queensland publishes several Notices to Mariners each week for the Brisbane Pilotage area. They are not just for commercial fishing craft but are important for all boaties. They cover information such as beacons and channel markers that have been moved or out of order, restrictions such as river closures, and other obstructions that sailors and power-driven vessels need to be aware of. All boaties are encouraged to check them regularly on the MSQ website at

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