The start is benign enough, some small movement on the surface. The movement coalesces into a depression which quickly opens up into the full vortex. It is possible to ride out a maelstrom by altering course to go around to whirlpool. It is even possible to skirt the edge of the terror and ride the outer edges of the swirl, but this is a fools path, taken by gamblers or those who already find themselves trapped inside the gripping terror and are attempting to escape. The most likely result of this risk taking is utter doom and failure as your path curves round in on itself until you sink into the abysmal darkness of the bitter end.
Now, the question is, how many times can you encounter a maelstrom and still survive?