Look at all those cliffs! Look at all those rocks! Look how deep it is! These were some of the thoughts going through my head as I contemplated heading out for the first time to find somewhere on Lake Mead to overnight - to “boat-camp”! I asked around. I heard Secret Cove, Middle Point, Castle Cove. They all sounded very exotic and good candidates, but they certainly did not show up on the very rudimentary, dated map that was on the boat my husband and I were now members.
I love maps! I discovered this trait early on when I was 9 years old sailing with my family on Lake Champlain in New York State. I can read and study a map longer and with more interest and enjoyment than I can reading a book. So, the first order of business was to get an updated chart of Lake Mead, which I happily found online from American Nautical Services
But we were impatient and wanted to start exploring before the map would be delivered, so, I thought I would keep prying the natives for specifics. “So where are these coves, anyway. They’re not on this map?” I would ask showing them the basic red and blue fishing map provided by Park Services. “Oh, you don’t need a map!” the veteran Meaders quipped. “It’s just over there, next to that hill.” You mean the hill that looks like ALL THE OTHER HILLS? I was on my own.
The weather was warming, and before it got too hot, we wanted our night beneath the stars! Find a cove, anchor up? How hard could it be? We had been told that most boaters just “beach” and raft up with their anchors on shore! I told my husband, “I guess, we’ll just know what to do, when we see it.” So, we packed up the cooler, some water, the hammock and some steaks and headed in the general direction of The Narrows (which I later found out is the name of just one portion of Boulder Canyon), completely “guessing” where the opening was. Binoculars and following where other boaters are appearing and disappearing are the key!
Entrance to Boulder Canyon (Boulder Basin side) 36deg 7' 42" N 114deg 39' 34" W
The stark beauty of the rocks as they towered and narrowed above us was gloriously – colors and shadows shifting as the sun sunk lower in the sky. We started to get anxious as darkness approached and there was no obvious way to “moor up” or anchor. Do we set up fenders and attach ourselves to the cliffs? What?! That can’t be right. We pressed on. What about that cove? Way too narrow. Let's try that one! No, better not...who knows if there’s a beach at the end of it. Plus, this wasn’t our boat. I did not feel comfortable beaching someone else’s boat without them being there to show me how to do it.
We got through the Narrows and I peeked desperately into yet another cove. This time I spied a faint white "something" poking out of the water. Is that a no wake marker? Why would there be one of those in there, if not for boats travelling in and out of the cove. I got out the binoculars and sure enough, I could see some kind of structure floating deep in the cove. A raft?
We cautiously headed in and discovered our very first boat pumpout station! "What the heck is that?" I exclaimed. It's a Park serviced dock with toilet facilities and a sink for cleaning out fish. It was peacefully floating and rotating in the shadows, inviting us to spend a perfect night on water so calm, the peaks were upside down.
That night would be our first night attaching our lines to what we now call "a poop dock"! We re-visited Boulder Wash Cove two more times that year (we discovered the name when I finally received my Map!). We also discovered two other docks last year: Hideaway Cove and Rufus Cove. The Lake Meaders laugh at us for docking on these, but we like the convenience and safety of these docks. They swing with the wind, which can come up quite violently and unexpectedly during the night, and the off board head is pretty convenient, especially in the morning!
Boulder Wash Cove 36deg 09' 52.7" N 114 deg 33' 00" W