FEBRUARY | MARCH 2016 BoatU.S. Magazine | 81
erboats. While all boats are vulnerable
if the conditions are poor, I’ve felt most
comfortable in well-built and well-handled powerboats, such as sport-fishing
boats, because of the maneuvering control
provided by the large engines.
Thousands of boaters in all kinds of
craft run inlets up and down the coast
every day with no problems. But inlets
should command respect; even experienced boaters can get into trouble.
The key is in your preparation and skill.
Tom Neale, editor at large for BoatU.S.
Magazine, has run hundreds of inlets
during a lifetime of boating.
Tips For Rough Inlets
Running inlets involves on-the-spot decisions, based on what you see and feel,
combined with your skills and your knowledge of your boat:
Get tide-flow schedules for inside the inlet. A raging inlet may calm a short time
later when the tide slackens and starts flooding.
Watch the waves ahead and astern at all times. Have a helper watching for aids to
navigation. A sail can help with steadying and power, but also use your engine. If the
boat is turned around by the sea or turbulence, a sail can become a liability.
If you see a large wave about to break on your stern, consider outrunning it or
staying just beyond the break. You may have more difficulty doing this aboard a boat
with a displacement hull than on one with a well-powered planning hull.
If you see a large wave mounting up ahead, don’t run over the top; you risk plunging into the trough beyond, burying your bow. You may decide to run up a little onto
its back, but remain behind the crest until it crumbles ahead of you, allowing you to
power through the turbulence. Even a slow-moving displacement hull can sometimes
do this, depending on the wave and your boat speed. — T.N.
Wind-over-tide conditions can build up
big standing waves that can prove too
much even for large, powerful boats. Wind
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