From the air they look like defined green islands. From the water you are forced to look at your chart again to see if you could possibly have misread it, because that thing ahead of you more closely resembles a flooded, overgrown lawn than an island.
There are all sorts of interesting currents, tides, and low-lying land forms down there. As the river slows down in this broad, flat area, sediment drops out of the water causing unique and changing bottom conditions. The main ship channel is dredged, but everywhere else, you’re on your own.
Kim and I were warned that there were sand bars; many of them hundreds or thousands of feet from shore. I was particularly good at finding them and running aground. Once getting my centerboard pinned to the ground and another time, catching my rudder and causing the downhaul to part.
It’s unseamanlike to admit, but I thought it was funny. Each time I ran aground, instead of fearing for a capsize, worrying about being taunted, or getting wet, I laughed. I laughed that no one could predict the location of these strange “sands” as they were sometimes vaguely marked on the charts. I laughed that I was on a true adventure. No sculpted shores, no easy marinas, no one to bail us out. Forget about Google maps, leave your GPS at home, and certainly don’t rely on paper charts: just sail and use your eyes.
Muddy and maze-like yes. Dull; not for a minute.