LAND SURVEYOR TAKES TO THE WATER — Civil engineer surveys bodies of water with his FoldCat

Dan Wachob's tricked-out FoldCat is an on-water survey station set up to tell precisely how much water's in a reservoir, lake, or pond.

For you and me, a day on the water is a day of sun and fun with some boating, fishing, swimming, a little suntan lotion, a burger or two, and some general goofing off. Not so for Dan Wachob, of Wachob and Wachob, Inc., professional land surveyors from Colorado. For Dan and his partner, boating is serious business.

Water storage capacity surveys

“We are a land surveying and civil engineering firm,” Dan told us. “One of the services we offer our clients is storage capacity surveying; we determine how much water is in a farm’s or ranch’s reservoir, lake, or pond.”

“Water in the west is more valuable than gold,” Dan explained, and the Colorado Division of Water Resources wants to account for every drop. “A farmer or rancher will call us to verify how much water they have on their land.”

No boat ramps

Dan surveys bodies of water all over Colorado but it's rare to find a reservoir with a boat ramp. So he chose a FoldCat that doesn't require one.

The bodies of water Dan surveys range from one acre to over 150 acres in area. Some are in high mountain terrain; others are way off in a big field; others are along a river. Most bodies of water they survey have these things in common: they’re off-road, they’re tough to get to, and they don’t have boat ramps.

“With no boat ramps,” says Dan, “there’s no way to bring in a hard hull boat.” That led him to look at the Sea Eagle FoldCat. “I looked for a boat that was portable, that I could pack up and throw in the back of a pickup truck, but that was large enough to hold all our equipment.”

Delicate electronic instruments

Dan and his crew tote an impressive (and expensive) array of equipment as they survey bodies of water. They have a Minn Kota trolling motor and battery, GPS equipment plus a large battery, GPS antenna, depth finder, data collectors, handheld GPS, and more. And life preservers, of course.

"We had a string four very small reservoirs about a quarter mile apart each," says Dan. "We inflated the FoldCat for the first pond then just put it on the back of the truck instead of carrying it."

And when your GPS equipment costs $25,000, you have one more requirement in a boat: stability. “Stability has not been an issue at all,” says Dan. “We sometimes have to stand and have had it in some pretty high winds, but haven’t had any issues.”

The FoldCat has a long and wide stance that makes it a very stable platform. Fishermen love the full floor because it catches dropped lures and flopping fish. Dan likes the floor because it accommodates all his gear.

Easy to maneuver

Years ago, Dan was a guide on raft trips. “We rafted the Arkansas River, the North Platte, the Colorado, and the Green River,” he says. “When I got in the FoldCat and grabbed the oars, it was very easy to maneuver.” The FoldCat sits high in the water so Dan can access the shallow parts to get elevations in the water. “We do a comprehensive survey of the whole basin,” says Dan, “including the dam, the downside stream, outlets, and spillway. The FoldCat works well because we can maneuver around the outlet structures and get very close to everything.”

Dan’s friends tease him that his job is just an excuse to go fishing. And he has seen some big ones while surveying bodies of water in his FoldCat. But on the job, a surveyor has much more on his mind than dropping a hook in the water. They save that for weekends like the rest of us.

— Do you have Sea Eagle photos and stories to share? Email us!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. jim matlock says:

    That be good but i like a lot folk don’t have the money to buy a foldcat i do not have a job at this time and that is no fun.

  2. Paul Mowrey says:

    I got my FoldCat 375fc last spring and love it. I’ve added a Minn Kota 45, Humminbird 570, 13″ seat pedestal, and an anchor. I seldom use the oars so I got rid of the mounts and just have the oars attached to the outside edges of the slats. I usually fish alone so I removed the forward seat and keep my battery and tackle box on that slat. This year, I hope to get a dolly and an anchor system that gets rid of the rope that always gets in the way.

    I’m 6’4″, 230 lbs. and I don’t have any problem getting around in my FoldCat. However, it does get blown around a bit in breezes over 12 mph or so.

  3. love it…you might like to share these with our global community of land surveyors on Land Surveyors United

  4. I removed the forward seat and keep my battery and tackle box on that slat. This year, I hope to get a dolly and an anchor system that gets rid of the rope that always gets in the way yes sure that the article is provide good information I like this post thanks you are sharing a great article info

  5. Mark Garza says:

    Great review! Could you review some of the boats on this site? I’d really like to see what you think.

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