by William B. Trescott
Years ago, I was watching a couple
of well tattooed teenagers buzzing around the Caney Dead Lake on a jet ski.
They must have thought the water was deep enough when they saw me paddling
only draw six inches, so it was not long before I
heard a resounding crash as they hit the reef. The boy was not wearing shoes,
so he insisted his girl get off and push—cutting her ankles. I paddled over,
but the girl and I could not budge it with him sitting on it. When she finally
persuaded him to get off and help, he angrily flipped it upside down with
much cursing, cutting up its beautiful padded seat and handlebars with several
large gashes. After all, it was the boat's fault he got stranded, not his
bad driving. They seemed to be getting lower and lower in the water as they
zoomed away, violating no wake laws. I do not know if they made it back home,
but they undoubtedly sank at the dock if they did.
Years later, I was shopping for a chartplottrer.
It was March, so I saw a Garmin ice fishing kit for half price. I have only
seen ice in Sargent once in thirty years, but an ice fishing transducer is
exactly what I need to glue in the bilge of my sailboat and it came with free
charting software even though the charts it came with were obsolete and had
to be redrawn. Equipped with its own battery and carrying case, it was small
enough to fit between my knees when paddling, so I decided to try it in my
kayak first. Rather than glue down the transducer, I tore the bottom off
a foam can caddy of the type used to keep a beer can cold and glued it inside
my kayak with 3M 5200. An inch of water was all that was needed to cover
the transducer, which would not be damaged if I ran aground since it was
inside the boat. At high water, I could pass over and chart the reefs without
My charts are shown with depths at
normal water levels. No guarantee of accuracy! Danger areas marked in red
are about two feet deep except during winter and must be driven slowly as
they contain uncharted reefs. Known reefs and mud flats are shown in brown.
Orange areas are two to four feet deep, but still contain obstacles on the
bottom left over from hurricanes. Yellow areas are four to eight feet deep
and can safely be driven at high speed. The deepest water, 40 feet at high
tide, is near a giant whirlpool called The Wiggles where Caney Cut meets
the Intercostal Waterway.
There are numerous small fishing holes in the northern part
of the Caney Dead Lake though one must be cautious probing through the red
areas to get there. The Eastern part of the East Bay is deeper, but still
full of obstacles. Surf prevented me from obtaining accurate reading at the
entrance to the gulf.