The Inlet

During mid-day the bright sun reflects on the sand and bleaches everything white hot and on both sides of the fast moving water and can blind the eyes. Boynton Inlet breaks the narrow strip of land separating Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean. Twice daily tides rush in and suck out the channel. The current rests fifteen to twenty minutes during slack tide at high and low tides. Violent currents occur on a strong ebb tide and can create six to ten foot waves stand at the seaward mouth of the channel. Boats exiting must broadside to these waves to follow the channel to deeper water and there have been countless accidents running the ebb tide gauntlet. And if the waves are not enough, there is a shallow, four foot deep rock ledge on the south side of the channel that comes into play at low tide when the wind blows northeast, which pushes the waves higher. The inlet mouth points to Freeport, Bahamas and is the shortest Intercoastal exit to an open water run of about eighty miles to the islands.
At the channel entrance, birds wait for an opportunity to pluck a meal when the predator fish—Snook and Bluefish—drive the small pray fish near the surface or to shallow water. Just as the mullet and pilchard think can breathe having survived pressures from the deep, the diving gulls and pelicans swoop and pick them up. The predators prowl waiting for the prey to return to deeper water. All of this seems to conspire against the schools of baitfish, but their numbers stay constant—enough to feed the birds and the Barracudas.
My dad would take me to the inlet on weekends to fish from the jetty and the side of the channel. Fishing was best on an incoming tide when water would be a bright blue-green color and, when the sun was high, we could see silver flashes of fish truing in the current. However, when the tide turned to drain Lake Worth the water turned a murky and it was time to head home with our catch. The water swirling in and out of the inlet made me feel strong when I hooked a big fish. It also created fear when I thought of falling in and swimming around the rocks with the fish.
The inlet was more alive that the beach or the waterway and the place where the two meet draw fish, and boats. I would watch the faces of be captains as they navigated. A calm face looking ahead of the boat had no problems. Tight eyes looking from side to side were touch and go whether they would make it in or out of the channel—we held our breath.