Know before you go!
For those new to the ocean, one of the 1st things you need to understand is how to read weather forecast, and the effects it has on the bar crossing you’re planning to do. The forecast page of this website has all the forecast tools I use. There is no magic number forecast that will guarantee a smooth crossing at all the bars...the closest to that you’ll get is less than 3’ swell...but even then with a strong tide I’ve had my most scary crossing.
One of the best ways to understand what forecasts will be decent and not is to watch the coastguard updates on the NOAA bar camera link. That link will show current bar conditions & any restrictions or closures for the bars the coast guard monitors. For example, today’s forecast (3/21/19) is roughly a 6’ swell at 15 seconds, with 8am low tide at .3 feet, moving to high tide at 2pm at 7’. Knowing what that forecast is check in on the bar update page throughout the day and see what effect the tide & swell have on the coast guards decisions on what restrictions to apply. If you’re planning to cross the monitored bars (bars on the list of NOAAs page), watch the restrictions & forecasts often to get information about what conditions are not restricted & plan trips around those forecasts.
If you’re planning to cross a bar that is not monitored then you need to watch nearby bars that are and do some hypothesis on what to expect. My rule of thumb is, If the coastguard is restricting crossings to vessels 20’+, it’s not a good time to be out. At 16’ restrictions, it’s gonna be intense, and you should not be going if you’re not experienced with that particular crossing.
Keep in mind, crossing a restricted bar, is against the law and a very expensive ticket. Crossing a bar that the coast guard doesn’t monitor, means you’re pretty much alone, & if you get in a bad spot help can be very far away, so it’s on you to be prepared. The bar crossings that the coast guard doesn’t monitor, can be some of the hardest to cross.
Depoe Bay is the easiest bar on the Oregon Coast to get across. If you’re new to the ocean, get things broke in there. Pay attention to the restrictions, learn the rules of radio calls when entering & exiting. And get comfortable with your setup and abilities before going to crossings that you’ll be forced to negotiate surf.
And lastly, test your equipment and setup before going into the ocean. Think of every possible bad situation you could get into and have a plan for how to deal with it.