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Navigating Inlets: Always--and especially in the spring--put safety first.

Confidence, common sense and good boat handling skills help ensure your and your crew’s safety when running an inlet. Keep in mind these common sense rules of thumb when heading in or out an inlet.

Even with the added security and added safety of a solidly built Grady-White boat and the phenomenal seakeeping of a Grady-White's SeaV2 hull, it is wise to be very careful around any inlet, especially early in the boating year.

First and foremost: All passengers should have their pfd's on and be securely seated beforehand.

  1. Know the tide/weather.  The combination of an outgoing tide and inshore wind can "stack" the waves in an inlet. Low tide creates shallow water and bigger breakers. Even if you are very experienced and run in and out inlets every day, avoid entering any inlet that has waves breaking across the channel. If you’re already in the harbor, stay there. If you’re outside, head for a safer inlet or wait for conditions to improve.  The best strategy, however, is to time arrival at any inlet for when conditions are most likely to be favorable. Consult the appropriate NOAA Coast Pilot® and tidal current tables.

  2. Size things up. Take note of sea direction, wave size, wind and breakers and adjust your speed accordingly. Look for deeper water where waves are a bit smaller and if in a following sea, keep the boat straight and on the backside of a wave.

  3. Always keep one hand on the wheel and one on the throttle so you will be ready to make quick responses to changing conditions. Be patient and ride the wave in a little further than you think you might need to.

  4. Better boat captains do their best to avoid entering an unfamiliar inlet at night. Waves are far more difficult to see and lighted markers may become lost or confusing among the lights on shore.

Especially after winter storms and during spring’s first outings, make certain the inlet channel hasn’t shifted. Inlets are subject to strong tides, waves, currents and coastal storms that can change the way you need to navigate safely very, very quickly. Consult the best information possible. Talk to experienced captains who run the inlet daily, your Grady-White dealer, the Coast Guard's Local Notice to Mariners or you can also try calling the Coast Guard or your boat towing service.

When you do enter an inlet (many of which can be crowded, especially on those first nice, warm spring weekends), stay to the right, watch your speed (and wake), and be aware that other skippers may not be as conscientious as you are. 

Enjoy your Grady Days out on the water in safety! Happy boating!