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I have a 172 McKee craft and would like to go off shore a little. Can any one tell me what to look out for going in and out of the Pensacola pass? Like what tides or wind direction to look out for. some one said the pass gets pretty ugly with a out going tide and north wind. I would hate to go out under good conditions and then have a unsafe return through the pass.
 

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I go out the pass in a 14' john boat. Look at the weather, but dont rely on it. You will be able to see where its choppy and where its smooth.
 

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I am coming down the end of June and like you will be going thru the pass for the first time. I have the same concerns that you do, and I have gotten some good advice from this forum. The best thing that I have picked up is to stay to the east side of the pass, and once thru the pass stay to the east side also. I will check the weather before I go out and am planning on staying witin 2 miles of the shoreline til I get my courage up to venture out further. Make sure you have all the required safety equipment on board and a ship/shore radio is also a good thing to have. I just have to find a good place to find out about incoming and outgoing tides, and get to understand the info it is giving me.
 

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Actually I have always thought it was worse the other way, outgoing tide with a southerly wind...washing machine. The main thing is to keep a very close eye while your out. It's easy to see if you should go out when you are going out, if it sux you're not going and you can just turn around. But it's a whole nuther thing coming back in when it sux cause you are already out.
 

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whats the easiest way to tell if its an outgoing or incoming tide. I went the noaa site they show times forhigh and low tides, but nothing about inc/outgoing.
 

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I'm not trying to be a smartass here but if it's low at 6am and high at 6pm then you know it's incoming all day.
 

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I agree with WW2. It's the worst on an outgoing tide when there is any swell in the gulf coming in; the two meet in the pass and get confused.Just be aware of the shoal on the west side if you don't want to go through breaking waves. You should be fine in your boat (regardless of the tide or wind) unless there are big seas.
 

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Two main things to consider directly related to navigating the pass: Wind vs Tide and Ocean Swell. If the wind opposes the tide the difference will determine roughness, but largely in the channel where the current is strongest. Hence, the channel can be rough and the flat to the east relatively calm as the current is relatively slower there, assuming you have a shallow draft boat. However, the other thing you have to watch is the ocean swell. If there is a large swell, the swellpeaks/breaks on the flats more than in deeper water, so youcan't assume you can justalways run the east bank. If that is not tricky enough, you then have to be alert to fronts and thunderstorms that can rapidly change things. When in the gulf small boat operators must be vigilant to changing weather and tides and how the pass will be affected. This typically comes from having had your butt handed to you a few times having not anticipated this.I don't know of any experienced boaters that does not have a good sea story to this effect or doesnot study the weather at least the day prior to and just before heading out. You can certainly navigate the pass on your own and in all likelihood will be fine by just being very cautious on a calm day, but your safestbet is to head out a few times with folks that know the area and perhaps have learned the hard way a few times before venturing out on your own.
 
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