The sun reflects off of the sand and makes surface of the water an opaque shimmer. The white hot light of mid-day almost blinds and forces me to avoid looking below the surface of the water rushing through the inlet.
The Boynton Inlet breaks a narrow strip of land and links Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean. Twice daily tides rush in and out the channel and the current rests only briefly between tides. When the moon and sun align and wind blows from the northwest violent currents occur on an ebb tide creating formidable six to ten foot waves at the inlet mouth. Boats captains that choose to exit the inlet defying the white cap obstacle must negotiate a narrow channel that turns southeast along the beach exposing their boats broadside to the waves. Over the years there have been countless boats run aground or capsize attempt to run the ebb tide gauntlet. And if the waves at the mouth are not enough, a shallow, four foot deep rock ledge on the south side of the inlet channel can shear a prop at low tide. It’s like threading a needle.
At the inlet entrance birds wait for an opportunity to pluck a meal from the water, unaffected by the shimmer and current. Predator fish—snook and bluefish—drive small pray fish near the surface and to shallow water. Just as the mullet and pilchard think can breathe having survived pressures from below, diving gulls and pelicans swoop to pick them off. And the predators lay waiting for prey to return to deep. All of this seems to conspire against the schools of baitfish, yet their numbers seem to stay constant. There’s enough to feed both bird and Barracuda.
When I was young I spent weekends fishing from the jetty at the mouth of the inlet. Fishing always seemed best on an incoming tide with bright blue-green water rushing in. With the sun partially obscured by clouds, I could see silver flashes; fish truing in the current while feeding then returning to refuge from the tide to the rocks.
I understood the flow of swirling in and out of the inlet. I felt in control of the tide when I hooked a fish in that wild water. Although fear of falling in, forced to sink or swim, to be bait or swim with the predators was always in the back of my mind. Could I survive that?

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