Every part of the country has boating that is challenging (even dangerous). I have heard how bad the water gets on the Great Lakes and about "crossing the bars" in the pacific Northwest. I have done neither, so can't comment on those. East coast inlets, specifically those on the east coast of Florida can be very problematic. All of the factors mentioned by ttmott - I agree with. Couple of other points about them. For several that are not ship channels, they often times are not that deep. As the rollers start the trough in between can be several feet below MLW. Not hard for running gear to hit bottom - when the chart says several feet of extra water. Second, these inlets are not static. Every time a major tropical storm or hurricane moves through - all bets are off on a lot of inlets. Government Cut is not going to change - but Stuart and St Augustine probably will. There are no markers on the charts in St Augustine - changes too often. Is all temporary markers. I went in there this past week. Did some homework. Called TowboatUS, talked to a local captain there. Found out that 1) temp markers were correctly on station, they had not dragged off station, 2) dredging had happened since I was there 3 years or so ago, controlling depth was 14ft. An additional note on St. Augustine, they didn't dredge a channel in a straight line. More or less straight from the STA marker, then takes an abrupt turn with a green temp marker at what feels like almost to the beach. In darkness or inclement weather would be very difficult to find. Hiring a captain to run the inlet with you for the first time really wont help that much. As ttmott was alluding to, you have to learn what the different conditions are at different times - and understand what it means to that inlet. Finding experienced captains and talking to them about when and when not to go is a good place to start. Finally - watch when you are running them. Find slack water.