Looking for another epic adventure on the east side of Florida? Haulover Inlet is located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, along the ICW. The man-made channel connects the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County. We have all watched Wavy Boats and other YouTube channels which document the enormous force of energy when the outgoing tide meets the strong onshore winds through a narrow channel, and as a Master Captain, I wanted my turn at this “challenge.” I remembered watching a tutorial from a Freedom Boat Club training captain which had him going from Fort Lauderdale down to Miami, and the different routes to get there. In this video, Captain Jay mentions Haulover and the sandbar(s). I called the Freedom Boat Club in Fort Lauderdale to make sure that there were no restrictions going in/out of this inlet, as I am aware of restrictions up by West Palm Beach. I reserved a 23’ Cobia center console with a 250hp Mercury Verado for the adventure.
We arrived at the Bahi Mar Marina as the team was wiping the dew off the boats. The FBC host marina is most famous for hosting the International Boat Show, and this is a world class venue. The staff was helpful and pointed out some area features to checkout. We also received the standard warnings about Port Everglades, the cruise ships, and not getting arrested. As we left the marina, just the number of 200’+ yachts were stunning. We were there on a Tuesday, so the marine traffic wasn’t too bad. Heading south on the ICW, we ran parallel to A1A, the famous east coast road that ends in Key West. When we were passing under bridges, we noticed the number of iguanas that were sunning themselves on the cribbing around the bridges. It was still manatee season, so most of the trip was at a No-Wake speed. When we finally came into the Haulover area, we recognized several boats from the YouTube channels, and I had also charted our way on Navionics.
As we started our maneuver around the sandbar and towards the A1A bridge, a little bit of nervousness was setting in. What if I stuff this boat? How is that going to look? In the (unlikely) event that I stuff this boat, we started recording our adventure so we could learn from it. I started to up the power and that Mercury Verado came to life. I feathered the throttle between plowing and plaining and used the extra power to push us off each wave. We hit a few waves which were swelling to 4-5’, but the Cobia has no problem keeping us dry. After clearing the pierhead, I went out into a relatively calm Atlantic and did a little sightseeing. I noticed a large fishing boat heading back in at Haulover, so I decided to pace myself and wait for that guy to clear the A1A bridge. I also recorded both the bow and stern views as I knew this could be somewhat precarious.
I powered up and came into the inlet at about 70-80% throttle, with the trim up to keep my bow lifted. Once again, I used that “reserve” power to push myself off the back of the waves, keeping the bow elevated as much as possible. There were several waves which would have stuffed us had we not had that bow attitude. One of the cameras did catch some spray coming in and onto the center console, but nothing too bad or embarrassing. I kept the speed up until I was directly behind that large fishing boat, and then started to slow down just before the A1A bridge. When we were safely back on the ICW, I set my Navionics for Miami Beach Marina, home of the Freedom Boat Club of Miami. We were able to speedup in some of the more open and deeper areas, and we did a ton of sightseeing and cruising. A few times we had dolphins in our wake, which is always fun for Michigan people.
As we approached the Miami Beach Marina, I remembered seeing the courtesy docks on Captain Jay’s video. We maneuvered around all sorts of yachts and PWCs, and finally came into the marina basin. I noticed all of the FBC Miami boats off to the starboard side, and the staff seemed somewhat confused. See…. We are known for doing this. I like to take FBC boats up to the 25-mile limit, and often dock at other FBC locations. I have taken a boat from FBC San Diego Bay to FBC Mission Bay, FBC Hammond, Indiana to FBC Chicago, FBC Holland to FBC Grand Haven, FBC Muskegon to FBC Whitehall, etc. Usually, a $20 tip to the dock staff is much cheaper than paying for transient docking per foot, and safer too! We were able to go into the marina and grab some lunch and souvenirs. I did receive a call from FBC Lauderdale about what we were doing in Miami and if we were lost. I told the staff about the Captain Jay video on the FBC corporate website, and confirmed that we were within our 25-mile limit. As we motored back, we passed several cruise ships heading to the Bahamas our of Port Everglades, as well as cargo ships and tankers. Upon arrival back to the Bahi Mar marina, we were greeted by smiling faces right as the club was closing. Absolutely an epic day!!!