Why is Haulover Inlet so Dangerous?

Are you heading on a cruise that will require you to navigate Haulover Inlet? From The Triton (Nautical News for Captains and Crews): Of more than 60 inlets in Florida, Bakers Haulover Inlet is one that requires experienced local knowledge or just avoid it, say captains in the area.  The Inlet is man-made and was cut to connect Biscayne Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. Called Haulover, it is located at statute mile 1080 on the 3000 mile Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), and is the only inlet between Miami’s Government Cut and Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale.

The surrounding seas are mostly uneventful, but when you get near the jetties navigators should be aware of strong currents, constant shoaling and no channel that heads directly west to the ICW. Although the ICW is straight ahead, when your boat is headed in from the Atlantic you must be wary of sandbars. You need to turn your vessel north or south to avoid these treacherous hazards that will cause your boat to run aground. If you see people picnicking on the water sitting in lawn chairs steer away!

When you get inside of the inlet you’ll want to turn starboard and stay near the rocks. There is a channel that runs along the coast. This channel heads in almost a due north direction. This is near Haulover Beach Park.

Stay vigilant as you pass through the inlet. When you navigate the Haulover Inlet on an incoming tide you’ll want to steer right as you head for the ICW. Many boats have been forced on to the rocks by their stern being pushed at a fast rate. You need to make sure you have enough power to stay off these dangerous rocks. The tide can suck you in and combined with the current make you confused about your speed. This can cause you to lose control and hit the rocks, run aground, or even sink your vessel!

So should I navigate Haulover Inlet?

Well of course. Just use the seamanship and navigation skills you’ve honed as a boater. Be careful and remember to watch the conditions.

From this Sport Fishing Mag article: “A powerful outgoing tide streaming through a narrow channel and a strong onshore wind tend to pile up steep seas,” Cordes explains. “Combine these two factors with shoaling, and you have big, breaking waves at the inlet, resulting in very ­dangerous conditions.”

The shoaling here is a big factor in the danger, the channel is ever changing.


Miami area Tide Charts

The Triton (Nautical News for Captains and Crews)

Navigational Markers in the Haulover Inlet

The channel markers don’t quite know what to do when the tides are running strong. The shoaling forces the Coast Guard to move them every once in a while. These markers on chains can be pushed by the wind and tides and appear to have moved. If you mistake these markers you could be in a dangerous position.

The Weather

The coast can experience fast moving severe weather! Sometimes it picks up very quickly and large waves will rush in at the mouth of the inlet. If you are in a smaller craft its not a good idea to head out in these conditions. If you do head out keep an eye on the forecast, the conditions could be perfect when you head out then change drastically. If you are in a smaller craft or personal watercraft keep a close eye on the conditions when you venture outside the inlet.

Dangerous Boat Traffic in the Haulover Inlet

Sometimes the most dangerous element in the Haulover Inlet is fellow boaters. Be aware of traffic around you, the inlet gets crowded and gets busy, often under poor conditions. If there is too much traffic, don’t be in a big hurry to join the fray. Wait until traffic lets up some to venture through the inlet.

The perfect boats for Haulover Inlet?