Lake St. Clair – Safety First After Heavy Rains

This is just one of several trees deposited on the sand flat in front of the Bassett Channel in 2009

When heavy rains hit the area around Lake St. Clair there is a phenomenon that is worth taking note of no matter what time of year it is: floating wood and debris.  Much of the debris is small but larger pieces can cause heavy damage to any boat, especially one with a fiberglass hull traveling at any speed.  Floating tree trunks usually have a branch or two sticking up above the surface which can give us fighting chance to negotiate our way around them.  Some logs though are only visible between waves and I’ve seem some that float inches below the water and was very fortunate to avoid them.

The  most obvious inflow into Lake St. Clair is the St. Clair River via the channels.  In spite of all the rivers and streams that feed the big river I’ve rarely seen a significant amount of debris coming from that direction.  Any inflow is deserving of respect but a couple have a long track record of releasing large items into the Lake: the Clinton River in the U.S. and the Thames in Canada.

Once in front of the Clinton River (at Harley Ensign) I had to drive the boat around a wood door.  Yes, a full sized wood door floating around in one of the Lakes’ highest traffic zones.  The Thames however deserves the most respect of all.  I’ve seen large parts of trees coming out of the Thames even on a moderate rain.

In 2009 we got a look at how much the Walpole channels could dish out as well.  At least four different trees were deposited on the shallow sand out by the Stakes.  I used to fly over this flat that was just a bunch of shallow water and sand without thinking about it, but not any more.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

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