RUNNING A ROUGH INLET
Look for the safest line through the waves. Gaps in the froth indicate areas of relatively calm water. When heading out, maintain enough speed to keep the bow high. If you go too slow, the bow will drop and you will nose into the oncoming waves. If you go too fast, you’ll get beat up.
Head into the waves and do not slow down, even if you take water over the bow. Maintaining your speed forces any shipped water astern and out the scuppers. If you slow down, the water will surge forward and push the bow down, possibly resulting in a catastrophic swamping and rollover.
When returning, retract the trim tabs and maintain sufficient throttle to keep the boat running straight and in a position on the backside of a wave. Match the wave’s speed so the boat stays about midway between the face of the wave behind you and the crest of the one ahead.
By all means, avoid overtaking the wave ahead and surfing down its face. This can lead to catastrophic pitch-poling (flipping stern over bow). Also, don’t let a wave overtake you from astern because this can swamp your boat or cause it to broach (rolling over as the breaking wave catches the boat from behind and shoves it sideways) — or both. Stay in the trough.
Keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel in these situations to monitor waves behind and in front of you, as well as anything on either side. Some inlets are plagued by confused seas — so-called potato patches — that can buffet a boat from side to side, as well as fore and aft. If you see a wave suddenly break contrary to the pattern, try to dodge it or adjust your running angle to mitigate its impact.