Well, it almost happened to us. We almost got the van buried by an incoming tide. I have a few posts about being safe while driving and camping on the beach. I emphasize knowing the tides and the weather so that you can avoid getting stuck in the sand – especially by a rising tide. (There are numerous websites that publish tides and are easy to look up on a smartphone. I often use tides4fishing.com.)
Hop on the web and there are many stories and videos of people getting buried by a tide. I see those stories and wonder how that could happen, but I almost let it happen to me. So, what did we do wrong?
Here’s the story. We went down to Galveston Island for a quick overnighter for July 4th. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the fireworks by the water on July 3rd. After the fireworks we headed to a beach to camp out. A couple of factors almost made our trip a miserable one.
One, we got to the beach after dark. This prevented a good inspection of the beach profile and where the previous waterline had been. Understanding the beach profile, or slope is important because it might give a clue as to how far the water might come up when the tide rises. A shallow slope will allow the water to come further inland than a steeper slope. So one should park farther up on the beach to avoid surprises when the tide comes in.
Second, it was an unfamiliar beach that we had never been on before, so I should have been more cautious. We have been on Bolivar Peninsula many times and know how to anticipate water levels. But we have only been to Galveston once or twice, and never on this beach.
So, we got to the beach and backed in about 25 feet from the water’s edge. The tide was going out and would reach low tide about 2 hours after we arrived which would give us even more space between us and the water’s edge. So, I knew what the tides were and what the weather was – clear, with an on-shore wind – and I thought we were in good shape.
It was a beautiful night and we hung out on the beach for a bit before turning in. I woke up a few hours later, peeked out, and was shocked to find the back tires in the water. I jumped into the driver’s seat, started the van, and ….. was able to pull to safety. Another half hour and we would have been buried, I’m sure.
So, what happened? Why, when I was aware of the situation did I almost make a terrible mistake?
In the morning I surveyed the beach more closely and realized that it was a very shallow beach. So, when the tide came in, it came in fast and far. This was the factor I hadn’t accounted for, and it almost got me.
So, know the tides. Know the weather. Know the beach. If you can’t be sure of any one of these be cautious and park as far from the water as you can until you are sure you can be safe.
Have Fun! Driving and camping on the beach is a blast when done safely.