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Apr 20, 2016

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.