Rip current hydraulic – a cruise ship so big that it actually drains the water out of Port Everglades inlet!

Kayak vs MS Oasis of the Seas.

Between a rock and a hard place!

This is sort of a cautionary tale about paddling in or around port inlets. I’d generally advise paddlers to stay away, however sometimes it is unavoidable and you may find yourself in relatively close proximity to speeding powerboats and large ships. Sometimes inlets can also be a part of a workout loop, as in my case. If you catch the tide right, you can ride it out or in, depending on weather conditions. This story is about an extreme case where one of the largest cruise ships in the world going through Port Everglades inlet can create a potentially dangerous hydraulic or rip current!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean satellite

Relative size of the large cruise ship in relation to Port Everglades!

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Note that Port Everglades inlet is a busy SHIPPING LANE!

BEWARE that it can get EXTREMELY rough because boaters are already going FULL SPEED here, so stay clear and make sure you are 100% confident of your skills and abilities before venturing there. Try to AVOID crossing the inlet and stick closer to the south side jetty, as there are no sea walls there. Also watch out for land fishermen on the jetty and their fishing lines!

Stay clear of traffic and closer to the south side – exercise extreme caution!!

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Flex Maslan Florida kayakfari surfski kayak miami Adventure Art Fitness ft lauderdale beach one way shearwater ocean

My old surfski “ONE WAY” at the beach in Dania, Florida.
Cruise ships also like to only go one way!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

Taking a break in my surfski outside of the inlet, south of the jetty.

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Port Everglades is one of the busiest shipping ports on the eastern seaboard and also a port of call for some of the largest and newest cruise ships! Particularly on weekend afternoons, you will see several ships departing one after the other. On this particular day, the MS Oasis of the Seas was getting ready to depart. As I was already outside the inlet, I decided to wait a bit to watch it. This ship is the third largest in the world, but her two other sister ships are all within just inches of each other. She is 1186 feet long, 154 feet wide at the waterline with a 30 foot draft and a gross tonnage of 225,282! There are a total of 18 lifeboats that can hold 370 people each!!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

Here she comes! The MS Oasis of the Seas coming out of Port Everglades in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

This ship is so big that it doesn’t take long for the bow to clear the jetty.
However it is at this point that the hydraulic or rip current really starts to form!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

You can already see by the way my bow is pointing that I am being dragged along!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

At this point I am backpaddling intently and steering to the right, trying to create a larger swing arc to avoid the jetty rocks!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

My response was successful, but the danger is not over yet. This is where the rip curl around the rocks was at it’s greatest, just before the stern cleared the jetty!

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You can see that I was at real risk of being dragged into the jetty rocks or worse back into the inlet towards the ship! The way I dealt with it was to try to move parallel to the current while backpaddling to maintain my distance. This way I would be in a larger swing arc and less likely to get drawn in. The ship moves at a pretty good clip, so I realized I just had to keep this up for a bit until the ship cleared the inlet, at which point the hydraulic would be released!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

You do not want to get caught up in this scene!

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These two videos show the action from the other side. You can see that the water is literally sucked out of the inlet!

Notice the people that venture out on the exposed sand – it’s like a mini-tsunami!

Not for the faint of heart, but under the right conditions, a rideable 6 foot or larger wave can form. Sometimes you’ll see surfers inside that little cove on the north side of the inlet. Know your roll and bring a short boat IF you got ’em!

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This is a pretty crazy video that shows off the awesome power of ship created tidal waves in another location!

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The MS Oasis and her sister ships Allure and Harmony of the Seas just off the coast of Ft Lauderdale. They are beautiful ships indeed – from a distance!

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Epilogue:

So what can we take away from this?

1. Even though I was outside the inlet and probably at least 30 feet south of the jetty rocks – I was too close. Safer would have been to double that distance!

2. Ships can draw and move so much water as they move through a narrow inlet, that the resulting current will easily exceed your paddling ability. It’s important to know and apply the same techniques used when dealing with rip currents!

3. The rip current and hydraulic(s) created will be “released” and disappear almost immediately as the ship clears the inlet!

4. The resulting tidal waves created can be 6 feet or more with several sets even after the ship is gone. This will easily capsize anybody and you will likely end up outside of your boat in the inlet – a situation you do not want to be in!

5. Kayakers are not the only ones at risk. Any SUP paddler or surfer or swimmer can get caught up in rip currents beyond their abilities!

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This brings up a capsize incident that occurred in the middle of the inlet about 10 years ago. It caused a lot of drama in the local paddling community for good reason. A paddler on a meetup kayak outing capsized near the middle of the inlet and wasn’t able to re-enter his boat, even with assistance! At the same time he was being swept directly into the path of a large incoming freighter ship! Thanks to the efforts of an alert SeaTow operator, the paddler was plucked to safety into his boat with little time to spare! The whole incident was scrutinized in extreme detail – we can all learn from this!

For the record, please note that there was a different organizer to the meetup group when this incident happened – the current organizers have nothing to do with this!

Here’s an excellent article from the Tsunami Rangers on dealing with surf, waves, tidal bores and the differences and similarities of whitewater and ocean paddling. These guys are the experts on “Rock Gardening” – paddling in conditions much harsher than what I’m writing about here!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

The danger has passed and the ship has sailed!

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Remember that Port Everglades inlet is a busy SHIPPING LANE and a FULL SPEED boating zone! DON’T venture inside or cross the inlet unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing and have a good reason for doing so!!

On weekends it can sometimes look like I-95!

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Paddling through the inlet is not for everyone, and you should be fully confident but realistic about your abilities. I like to include it in my workout loop, but you don’t have to!

The intracoastal waterway is a slow speed, minimum wake zone which connects with Whiskey Creek in Dania Beach at both ends. If you want to paddle a shorter workout loop without having to deal with Port Everglades inlet, connecting the two is easy to do and results in about a 4 mile loop. You can see the shortcut from the creek to the beach below!

You can read more about paddling on Whiskey Creek at:

Paddling on Whiskey Creek at Mizell-Johnson (John U Lloyd) State Park in Dania Beach

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Flex Maslan Whiskey Creek John U Lloyd kayakfari ART flex maslan florida kayak beach canoe kayakfari.com digital029art.com

“The Cup is Full !”
Paddling on Whiskey Creek at Mizell-Johnson (John U Lloyd) State Park in Dania Beach.

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Note that some South Florida boaters choose to operate their vessels the same way they drive on I-95 – so always be aware of your surroundings!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari port everglades kayak inlet oasis cruise ship danger rip current paddle ft lauderdale ocean

Safely back on the intracoastal, but note that some South Florida boaters operate the same way they drive on I-95!

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Be safe and enjoy your paddling!

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! BLESS – Feel Irie

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© 2017 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com . All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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