What to do: Try to take wakes on your bow. If they hit you from the side, you can capsize, and if they come from the rear, you can ship a lot of water. Boaters who fish inside Oregon Inlet north of Cape Hatteras, where wakes bounce off the shore and themselves, keep their engines idling so they can maneuver quickly. "Commercial boat traffic and some of the good ol' boys can make a mess of the place," says Larry Haack, who runs a Web site devoted to Oregon Inlet swampings. "During peak traffic hours boat wakes can come at you from several directions at once." Boaters here subscribe to the "smaller the boat, the bigger the bilge pump" rule. "We all use at least 2,400-gph pumps with 1 1/2" hoses," says Haack. So-called self-bailing cockpits should never be depended on and are no substitute for well-maintained bilge pumps. He also advises that you "always know where the deeper water is and have an escape route planned from wherever you are."