7 Tips for Navigating the Dangerous Haulover Inlet in Florida
Sometimes, boating is dangerous. Certain areas of the world are notoriously risky for boaters, from Chile’s Cape Horn to California’s Point Conception and the infamous Bermuda Triangle.
Florida is also home to a boating area that’s been challenging sailors for almost a century: Baker’s Haulover Inlet between Miami Beach and Bal Harbour. The inlet is a channel that runs from Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic ocean. It was created in 1925 to allow boaters out of the bay without having to go all the way to Government Cut (which is south of Miami). But why is the Haulover Inlet dangerous? It features sandbars, rock walls, strong tide currents, and gusty onshore winds that make navigation quite difficult.
Why is the Haulover Inlet so Dangerous?
Thinking about sailing through the inlet? It might be a great day to go out, but if you do not have the right boat or skills, you're probably better off staying home – unless you like to take chances. Just what is the right boat? One with plenty of power and size to handle the waves the inlet throws at you. If you go too slow, have too much weight in the bow, do not know how to keep the bow up (but not too far), or make other mistakes, Haulover Inlet is going to win.
Even experienced sailors need to stay vigilant while navigating this difficult stretch of water. Below, we’re sharing our Haulover Inlet tips for safer sailing:
Tips for Navigating the Haulover Inlet
1. Wear Lifejackets
While people should always wear lifejackets while they are on a boat, many do not. However, not wearing a lifejacket while navigating Haulover Inlet is asking for trouble. The combination of waves, currents, winds, and sandbars could throw you a nasty surprise. You could easily be swept overboard, especially if you stuff the bow.
2. Know the Inlet
It’s best to study the inlet from the shore before you try sailing it for the first time. You might even want to have a seasoned boater take you out and allow you to follow them for your first run. You should also know where the sandbars are – and when they are likely to move. The waves are often rough, and the tides are strong, so the sandbar that was in one place yesterday might be in another place tomorrow.
3. Keep Your Speed Up…But Not Too High
If you go too slow or too fast, the Haulover is going to win. Knowing the right speed means you have to understand the inlet and your boat quite well. If you go too slow and have the bow too high or low, you could get caught in the waves, stuff the bow, or go airborne. Meanwhile, if you go too fast and have your bow too low, you could stuff the bow and take on water, risking sinking the boat. The trick is to be on plane and hit the waves just right.
4. Ask a Local
Someone who has run the Haulover many times is the best person to tell you how to get through unscathed – or at least with as little damage to yourself and the boat as possible. A local can pinpoint where the calmest part of the inlet is (hint: It's usually where the water is deepest.). In the Haulover, that’s the north side of the inlet.
When asking a local about the best way to navigate the Haulover Inlet, talk to someone who has a boat close to the size of your own. Someone with a yacht is going to approach the inlet differently than someone with a small center console.
5. Have the Right Boat
If your boat is too small, you will most likely be doing the Haulover U-turn or stuffing the bow. Or, you might have enough experience with Haulover Inlet and make it through like many small boaters did, despite the nasty conditions. We never recommend trying the Haulover Inlet or any other dangerous place on the ocean if your boat is too small for the conditions. It's too easy to capsize.
6. Work Smarter
While some people love bouncing over big waves, not everyone does – and not everyone has the right size boat or motors to do it safely. If you do not want to beat yourself and your passengers up, look for the part of the inlet that is the calmest and take that route.
7. No Night Trips
No matter what you do, never attempt the Haulover Inlet at night unless you know what you are doing, know the inlet well, and have no other choice. You won't be able to see dangers, especially when the waves are high.
Bonus: Keep Your Boat in Peak Condition with Gemlux
Rough seas in places like the Haulover Inlet can damage deck hardware like hinges and latches. Plus, if your rod holders and other accessories are made from low-quality materials, the excessive spray can cause corrosion. To keep your boat in the best possible condition (and undo the damage of the inlet), look to Gemlux. We use only the best materials for all of our boating and fishing accessories, so you never have to worry. Contact us today to learn more!