I plan on my first beach launch & then to the inlet in South Fl. to the ocean. I would not paddle long in the ocean maybe a 1/2 hour.

What conditions, wind direction, tides, would be best for a sucessful launch?

For the most part…

– Last Updated: Aug-13-09 11:45 AM EST –

these are things that an Advanced paddler should know. And I presume there is one more than one inlet to the ocean in S Florida.

Not sure what's up ...

figuring this is all new to you
the easiest successful launch should be pretty self explanatory once you familiarize yourself with the area. If it’s an inlet that you’re worried about, then paddling into it during the flood tide can offer some advantages. Ocean swells and flooding current both carry you in. During an ebb tide, it’s possible that you can’t swim into the inlet against the current, and at the same time can’t swim out into the ocean because the bigger breakers keep dragging you and your kayak back in, only to have the tidal current carry you right back to the bigger breakers. So you can be stuck in the surf zone until you swim your kayak away from the inlet along shore (same in a rip current). Breakers will also vary based upon tide level, both on shore and in inlets. There’s nothing wrong with paddling into the ebbing inlet (less work and steeper waves if playing in the inlet is your intention, or simply practicing for days when you have to paddle in somewhere against a current), or launching from the beach when the waves are breaking the strongest. It’s just an awareness that you can use to make your decisions. There are infinite situations that make it very difficult to come up with hard and fast rules.

No one can properly answer that
without know what inlet you are talking about.

You used the term “Ocean”, so I assume it is on the east coast, but where?



Hi Jack,

I read your post’s & find them helpful & amusing.

I live in Boca & will launch from either from a boat ramp from Deerfield Beach or Pompano Beach.

I would either navigate the Boca inlet, or Hillsboro inlet in Lighthouse Point.

Just need a heads up to the best conditions, wind, tides.


Robert G

Where to find info

– Last Updated: Aug-14-09 1:29 PM EST –

NOAA has tide history, albeit sometimes the stations aren't too close together. Looks like the buoy at West Palm Harbor picked up a range to about 2.5 feet for tide height the last few days.

NOAA also has print-on-demand marine charts at

You can look up on the web for tide predictions at various sites, including some fishing sites.

I looked at the area on my charting software, and before you even think about tides and current you may want to consider how much commercial traffic you are comfy being up close with. Overall the Hillsboro channel seems to have more commercial traffic, and you are sharing a pretty narrow opening to get into the inlet by/behind Lighthouse Point. You are also entering an inlet with a depth of 7 ft at mean low tide, coming from an area that is mostly a good bit shallower.

There is an area that appears navigable for a paddle craft west of a large shoal that sits south of the Point, but someone locally would be a better reference on how that is. There are varied changes in depth in the approach area, which would break up waves more erratically than the better-ordered depth changes outside of the Boca inlet.

There's a Coast Guard station overlooking the inlet, near Hillsboro. A call to them might be a decent idea.

The Boca inlet appears to be pretty inhospitable to commercial craft. The depth is low in and out and there is a large sand bar sticking out of the water at low tide that cuts the channel in half.

In both cases, you will have moments in the tide where the inlet is flowing out with the tide, hence current to fight, or when the incoming tide is hitting water that would otherwise be trying to leave the inlet. That'll create waves where things meet. I am used to bigger tides, so I don't know if either condition is more worth avoiding. Basically, the more room water has to get in and out the less turbulent its passage is likely to be.

I also don't know if the ocean down there creates onshore and offshore wind changes this time of year. If it does, you can expect the wind direction to change mid to late morning as the land heats up faster than the water. A review of charts and/or topo maps should tell you what wind directions are likely to be in your face, at your back or behind a land mass that'll protect you.

If all of this seems too much work to put together, you should reconsider getting on the ocean, especially in a high traffic area.

Been through both…
… but not for a few years. Things change, so take this FWIW. I do Port Everglades more which is more like a superhighway in comparison and has some same and some different considerations.

There’s been a lot of dredging at Hillsboro since my last times through. I assume there is still a nice little piece of sheltered beach on the lighthouse side at the mouth which is a nice place to sit out and scope things out (or even stop for a break on the way on the way in w/o needing to surf launch). Don’t remember anything in particular otherwise.

Current through S Boca can get pretty strong for S FL. That long curve seems to magnify it and will make for a longer battle if you’re going against. Sandbar at the mouth (assuming it’s still there) can make a pretty impressive standing wave.

Traffic through either can range form zero to hectic. Conditions from pond to “Victory at Sea” stuff. Avoiding other boats is not hard, but paddling so they don’t feel they need to avoid you can be a bit trickier due to the narrowness and current. Plenty of room, just don’t take any you don’t absolutely need. Obviously, stay to the sides (but no so close a deep V hull fishing boat wake can side surf you into trouble either).

Since you’re asking, and seem to be looking for safe/easy vs fun/adventurous (AKA stupid in an inlet), I’d suggest you pick a low tide range weekday for minimal current and traffic. On first visit you might time it so you ride out on the end of the ebb, and come back in after it’s turned (or will at least be in fairly slack water in between).

Obviously avoid the max inflow and particularly outflow times (if you’re just doing a short in/out paddle anyway), particularly at S Boca. Deceptively calm looking heading out, but can get too fast to paddle in against without really looking that way. If that ever happens, you can beach around the Jetty (S side) and carry to A1A and relaunch under the bridge, but it’s not fun. Surfing on the standing wave was though, but also not recommended as it’s mid channel. I got sucked onto it (in an IK119! - WooHoo!!!). I’d be able to beat the current and avoid that in my 700 on a similar day now - but it still would have been slow going - and it can get much faster there.

Personally, I’d opt for Hillsboro (or go out Boca, and in Hillsboro on a longer loop paddle), but again I have not been through either in some time.

As you likely already know, the entire area inshore has few landing spots (mostly seawall/private backyards) - and the beaches have mixed laws regarding kayaks. May or mat not be a factor for you, but has been for me for various reasons on various longer paddles.

General considerations: At all of the inlets the waves tend to stack up around the mouths/corners during outflow and usual onshore wind/wave directions add to the fun in the interaction area. Usually easier to manage heading into it and punching out with the current. Texture tends to drop/calm with flood, and current will help get you through any of it real quickly coming back in. Doing it the other way is often no big deal, but you end up at the mercy of whatever happens that much longer, in places you really don’t want anything to go wrong (these can be really bad places to swim - you have decent self rescue skills, right?). It’s often a lot flatter earlier too. More folks seem to run into issues and interesting moments on their returns through the inlets (more tired, wind is up, conditions more astern harder to handle, more traffic, whatever).

Like most paddling in S FL - will likely be a nice calm warm water cakewalk. Minimal current (as we have really small ranges in general) and really small seas. Still, things can get weird REAL fast - and nowhere more so than in those small inlets.

Lots of place to check tides, here’s a good one:

I also like this simple one that shows the whole month. It’s for the station on the New River closest to me (Andrews Ave bridge) but has the adjustments for the port and local inlets from Boca to Miami at the bottom:


– Last Updated: Aug-14-09 9:02 PM EST –

Be advised. A large majority of boating accidents and fatalities occur around inlets. Not to be a wet blanket but you can go out an inlet that is very easy to transit and when you try to come back in the wind and tide can make that same inlet unpassable. Have fun and safe paddling. VF