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How to locate another model from within a model plugin (find water from boat)

I'm writing a flotation model plugin to simulate the dynamics of boats. I'm attaching the flotation plugin to the boat models but I need to intersect each boat with the water surface, which is a heightmap (i.e. not flat). The question I have is what is the best way to refer to the model that represents the water? The model plugin for the boat gets a handle onto the boat model to which it is attached. Should the plugin configuration in the boat's SDF specify the name of the water model (e.g. "water" or perhaps "ocean", ...) and then have the plugin find the model by name in the world at initialization time? Or is there a different strategy I should follow?