This image was taken just outside the entrance from Bass Strait into Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, Australia. This particular area is know as “The Rip” and is know by seafarers world wide as probably the most notorious stretches of water on the planet. But it’s a great fishing spot. The land mass in the background is Point Nepean.
The rip is generally considered to be located in the triangular area of water between the land points of Point Nepean, Shortlands Bluff and Point Lonsdale. The entrance between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean is 3.5 km wide but the reefs projecting from these points reduce the navigable width to about 1 km. Within 800m outside the Heads, there is a shallow rocky flat known as the Rip Bank. The water deepens outside this flat to 30m and inside the Heads to as much as 90 m. This inequality of depth combined with tidal streams running up to 6 knots, causes the world-renowned dangerous conditions. The variation in seafloor depth within the rip itself can be anywhere from 100m to less than 5m amongst the rocky reefs and shoals.
Entering the heads of Port Phillip is a risky and dangerous procedure, with many sailors regarding it as one of the most dangerous shipping paths in the world. Control of shipping movements through the heads is managed by the Point Lonsdale Signal Station. Large ships may only enter Port Phillip with a qualified pilot aboard to help them navigate through the heads. When entering, large ships have to follow a precise S-shaped course through the heads.
The Queenscliff Low Light (“white lighthouse”) and Queenscliff High Light (“black lighthouse”) form a leading line to guide ships through the main channel, in conjunction with the Hume and Murray Towers that show red and green lights respectively.
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