One of the biggest challenges is transiting inlets to reach the ocean or to return to protected waters. Even wide, deep inlets get tricky when the tide and wind oppose each other, setting up large, steep waves that can be dangerous. If possible, run an inlet just before ebb tide begins—the incoming swells won’t be fighting the outgoing flow, and the channel will be at its deepest. If you have to enter an inlet during unfavorable conditions, secure all hatches and don life jackets. Stay outside the inlet until you get a feel for what the seas are doing, and study your chart one more time. Above all, keep your eyes open and trust what they see. Shoals often move, and you’ll want to watch for the less turbulent water. When in doubt, wait outside and follow a local boat in, especially if it’s a commercial vessel.