Before they even start taking measurements, surveyors often have to deal with such practical challenges as how to access and move around in their survey area—which may be rocky, filled with dense vegetation, or obstructed by construction. In the case of hydrographic surveys of lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and streams, the depth of the water, rocks, and strong currents may make it impossible or too dangerous for surveyors to wade in, while insufficient overhead clearance, very shallow spots, and other obstructions may make it impractical for them to use a boat. That is when a small, remote-controlled (RC) boat can be a very valuable tool.
Of course, an RC boat bought at a toy store would typically be too small and underpowered to carry the required instruments. For more than a decade, Oceanscience, a company based in Carlsbad, California, has supplied the oceanographic community with deployment platforms for environmental monitoring instrumentation. It designed one of its products, the Z-Boat 1800 remotely operated survey boat, specifically for surveying inland water bodies with poor access or unsafe conditions.
Teñell Matlovsky, survey supervisor for the County of Santa Barbara, California, used this boat to survey an area of Lake Cachuma, in the Santa Ynez Valley. Located on the west side of a coastal mountain range, his project is a reservoir that has been one of the main water bodies serving the city of Santa Barbara and the Goleta area.