On Cape Cod, fog can become your worst nightmare when 1/8-2 miles out on a flat. Some of us have had close calls on the flats, so I would like to share some of the things I do to remain safe.
Number one rule is do not wonder into an area you are not familiar with. When I say familiar, I mean having an intimate understanding of all of the following.
2- Before I even walk out onto a flat I have already checked several weather related wind internet sites. I know direction and if its going to swing and at what time. As I walk out I pay attention to what direction I feel the wind on my face. This helps should I have to guess ta mate my return.
3- I know exactly in what stage in the tide I'm walking out and when it will change. I'm very familiar with tidal current direction at every phase of the tide for the flat I am on. Knowing current direction also helps with navigation when seeing land is not an option.
4- Over the years the sand becomes like a road map, every trough, sluice, creek, river, depression is memorized over and over each year. Even if you can not see 10 feet you will come across these things that will help you navigate your way back.
5- Knowing exactly at what stage in the tide I can cross and re-cross certain depressions allowing me access to certain flats and a safe return.
6- Taking in all audible clues as I walk out. (Cars, Fog horns, Bells, Motor boat engine noise coming from the main channel.)
7- I take a compass reading when I reach my destination. I carry a compass on my watchband for easy access.
8- Know the height of your tides. Worse case scenario is to seek higher ground and sit it out. Knowing were this area is at, is crucial.
9- A cell phone is invaluable should you happen to hurt yourself and walking back is not an option.
10- Go with a friend or someone who knows the area as good as the inside of their pocket.
11- Know your moon fazes. There are certain tides in certain areas that will not allow you to out run them. No high ground to sit it out and the current is so swift you can not walk against it. Put yourself on the edge of a flat with a drop off and this current can at times run like a ragging river, as water drains off it. Someone lost their life last year under this same scenario.
12- An inflatable vest of some sort makes a lot of sense.
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