Forward looking depth sounders/sonars - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #1  
Old 06-19-2010
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Forward looking depth sounders/sonars

Having just completed a crawl up the ICW, I'm suddenly very interested in forward-looking depth sounders/sonars. Several times we tried to enter spots that the cruising guides pointed out as anchorages, and came to a sudden, sodden, squishy stop. Never mind the shoaling here and there.

I suspect that my requirements are very difficult to meet. Our boat draws 6'2". I want to know whether or not, say 100' ahead, I have 7' of water (or more). It looks to me as though the geometry is very discouraging, particularly when the transducer is mounted on the bottom of a boat that may be pitching a bit.

So...does the technology exist to do what I want, and if so at what price?
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Interphase has some really neat stuff in sonar, even a dual overlapping scan setup intended for deeper-keeled sailboats. Remote video with dual 'ducers is 2 grand at a certain well-known marine supply. I see where they have an upgraded model with even greater performance for $3500.

Last edited by seabreeze_97; 06-19-2010 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 06-19-2010
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I looked into it a couple of years ago, Interphase was about the only choice then. I see Furuno has it now too, probably very spendy. What stopped me was the need to mount a bulb type transducer ahead of the keel. Seems like it stuck down from the hull about 4" or so, just right to get knocked off by a log leaving a large hole for water to gush through.
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Old 06-20-2010
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It's been hard to find technical data, but I've been told that the minimum depth that Interphase can reliably operate in is about 10', which is wonderful for many applications, but not for mine. Ah, well, have to spend the money on something else, I guess.
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Old 06-24-2010
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Thumbs up Forward Looking Sounder

British company, Echopilot, make a FLS from about £400
FLS Bronze Forward Looking Sonar

They also make more expensive models as well!

see Marine Electronic Services Ltd for prices.
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Old 06-24-2010
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Put a sounder on a stick hanging forward off the anchor roller? Just sayng...
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Old 07-10-2010
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Larry,

You are looking to fill a need that is pretty tough based on our experiences of the principles/physics behind how the FLS works. Image you are travelling through an area 10' deep and 100' away it shallows to 7'. In order to get this kind of detail on the display you need to bump up the gain and suddenly water clarity, bottom structures, bottom make-up, currents and even freshwater streams affect the sonar signal and it might look like you're travelling through a snowstorm. But, having said that, we've used our FLS set to look ahead 100' and have readily read the depths in the 15 - 20' range

On our sailboat we have the Interphase ColorTwinscope and would never own another boat without it! (No we don't work for them or get paid for this, it is a good product that performs well!)

This is our third summer cruising Alaska and Glacier Bay. During this time we've literally relied on the FLS to get us into or out of areas that we wouldn't even looked at without it. The Twinscope offers two modes Forward Scan or Side Scan. Looking forward is like tilting your regular sonar at an angle and shooting it ahead of you; Side Scan projects a 90° beam (45° on each port and starboard) showing you the sides of a channel.

During the winter of 2008-2009 we spent the entire winter cruising and exploring Glacier Bay, Alaska. The FLS was useful in looking ahead to see submerged icebergs (see here), uncharted hazards, etc. In Glacier Bay, Adam's Inlet is closed to vessel traffic during the summer months, however during the winter it is open. The entrance however runs fast during tide and can really only be traversed during slack. Even at high tide there are areas that are less than 8' deep. We used the Interphase to track the bottom and found the clear path to enter the Inlet (see here) . Once inside it was an unspoiled beauty seldom seem from the cockpit of a sailboat. It was rewarding!

Like all things it's a trade off, but it was a worth while investment for us.

Otherwise, consider putting the youngest crew member in a scuba suit with lead boots 100' ahead of you reporting back...

Dean
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Old 07-11-2010
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Hmm. There's "ground-piercing radar." Maybe there could be "water-piercing radar"? Mounting the sensor on the mast instead of on the hull would make the geometry better...

But I expect that Dean is right: the Interphase (and similar) seem to work fine in more than 10' of water, but not less.

I expect that I'll wind up investing in some pebbles, cotton thread, and twigs. Tie the pebble at one end, and the twig 7' away at the other end. Throw into the water ahead of the boat: if the twig floats, you don't have 7'. Cheap. Biodegradable too. Might even work.
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Old 07-11-2010
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We have an echo pilot on board and very happy with its performance can see to a depth of 260feet and forward to 180 feet, found good for ancharage, seeing whales ahead and dead heads.
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