I have a 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 hp motor that I want to use on various lakes in Northeastern Ontario.
The lakes are small, remote lakes that aren't on navigational charts. There are a few lakes that have bathymetry maps (lake depth maps) in the Fish ON-Line web map, in the Ontario GeoHub Historic Bathymetry Map PDFs, and in local fishing books/paper maps. But most lakes don't have bathymetry information available.
The lakes are unfamiliar to me and many of them don't have cottages/residences on them so the locals haven't marked hazards in the water with homemade buoys, etc. Regardless, it's risky to rely on homemade buoys anyway — they often mark some, but not all hazards.
I've been reluctant to go boating on these lakes because I know from canoeing in the general area that the lakes often have rocky shallow spots in the middle of the lakes.
How can I boat safely on lakes when I suspect there are hazards? Is my only option to survey the entire lake by canoe or slowly by boat (when the water is calm, using polarized sunglasses so I can see down into the water) and make a mental map of rocks, logs, and low spots in the water? Is there anything else I can do that would help?
I know it would be ideal if I could ask people who live in the area. But there aren't many people to ask in these parts, at least not without walking down private driveways and banging on doors, which seems dodgy in such a remote area.