Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-01-2019 Thread Starter
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Having spent a few hours reading all the “brochures” on both Airmar and Garmins websites, I’m pretty indecisive as to what I really need.

My current setup is an old thru hull Datamarine unit as my primary, ahead of the keel sounder connected to a stand-alone instrument in the cockpit. Then I have an Airmar P79 InHull unit connected to my Garmin 540 (old) plotter at the nav station as a backup unit.

I’m currently doing a minor refit and want to upgrade my systems to a full Garmin setup. I’m going to keep the P79/540 as a backup simply because it’s paid for and works.

The primary will now be a Garmin 8410 plotter and a stand-alone GNX20 (I like having a large dedicated display for wind and depth with the option to see both on my chartplotter as well- though usually I keep the Plotter displaying only navigation with AIS and Radar (GFantom18) overlay)

My concern is transducer power. I care only when the depth gets below 10’. Otherwise I don’t care if it’s 100’ or 1000’.

It would seem a 500w B619 would do just fine for what I need.

Is there really any reason, for a regular old cruising boat, to “need” a 600w or 1000w transducer?

Garmin touts “CHIRP” all over everything. However it seems that is directed more towards fishfinding and bottom contour. I don’t care about either.

So it seems to me anything high power or “CHIRP Sonar enabled” is a waste of money for my needs.

I didn’t get the “XSV” version CP just for this reason- I don’t think I need sonar.....

Thoughts?

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Last edited by alanr77; 06-01-2019 at 12:31 PM.
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-01-2019
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

Iím no up on all the new transducer technology, but I agree with you. I have no need to know exactly how deep the water is below my keel once we get past 50í or so. All the high-powered, minutia detail is usually superfluous to me.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-01-2019 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
I’m no up on all the new transducer technology, but I agree with you. I have no need to know exactly how deep the water is below my keel once we get past 50’ or so. All the high-powered, minutia detail is usually superfluous to me.
Yeah it’s gotten tech crazy for sure. To think we’ve been “getting by” all these years with a simple unit that tells you how deep the water is.....

I’ve talked to people who love their “CHIRP Sonar” as it tells them about things such as coral heads out front. I’ve never said to myself that I wish I had it before.

Anyway it just seems that unless you need to know you’re in 1000’ of water or you want to chase fish all over the ocean, the higher power and resolution is unnecessary.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-01-2019
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

Yesterday we were out sailing and our modest depth gauge accurately read 380', unfortunately, it didn't see the log we hit floating half submerged at the surface.
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-01-2019 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by paulinnanaimo View Post
Yesterday we were out sailing and our modest depth gauge accurately read 380', unfortunately, it didn't see the log we hit floating half submerged at the surface.
Would any of the 2019 tech prevented you from hitting it? I often sail long hours with the Monitor steering and other than AIS alerts, no one is staring at a screen looking for “sonar targets” that I’d have seconds to react to anyway. I’d definitely like to hear if you’ve come across something that would alert me (or you) though. Also, I’d be concerned about power consumption. I have a small boat, she can’t carry bus sized battery banks. I have to be aware of what’s on and what’s not. I would think, not stating a fact here, that the higher power transducers also require more to keep them running. Perhaps not?

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Last edited by alanr77; 06-02-2019 at 09:40 AM.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-02-2019
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

Hey,

I like having a sonar display so i can Ďseeí the bottom when I anchor. I donít care about high power or chirp bc i donít fish. Note that the high power sonar units draw a lot more power. No worry for a fishing boat running the engine but not soo good for a sailboat running on battery power.

Barry

Barry Lenoble
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY

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post #7 of 18 Old 06-02-2019
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

Bought a Raymarine Dragonfly and that has it. Use it for anchoring so I have an idea about the bottom But it was cheaper than a new depth display and it works great as a plotter . Also designed for kayak fishing so you can turn the display of and the transducer to save power. Nice bit of kit done the indian ocean a few times with it no complaints.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-02-2019
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

My understanding of CHIRP technology is just higher resolution pictures below the boat. So if youíre not into seeing the difference between a fish and squid then itís probably of little value to you.

Charting in Fiji (and many coral-ridden areas) is not great and software like Navionics and OpenCPN or Maxsea, both of which we have used with C-Maps donít show some reefs and often show reefs (and even small islands) where there are none. In these situations a standard depth sounder even using CHIRP tech has limited value because the coral mostly rises near vertically from the sea floor. Now youíre clear, now youíre not. And I donít believe that CHIRP can see much ahead of the boat. It may see a rise in the sea floor a tad earlier but it wonít see a rise from 50m depth to shoal over a distance of 50m.

In coral-infested waters there is a saying: you have either hit the coral or youíre going to. The best solution for that is forward-looking sonar. Oh how I wish I could afford it.
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Re: Is there even a need for high power depth transducers OR CHIRP?

Iíve not yet sailed in coral-head infested waters, but I have been in areas where the depths can change rapidly (North Channel, Georgian Bay). Iíve used a fish finder style sounder which I really like. The visual trending is great. And you can read the bottom to some degree.

But none of this matters to me when Iím in 50í or more of water. Forward scanning sonar might be useful, but the ability to see 500 feet down is irrelevant to me.

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post #10 of 18 Old 06-02-2019 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassidy View Post
My understanding of CHIRP technology is just higher resolution pictures below the boat. So if you’re not into seeing the difference between a fish and squid then it’s probably of little value to you.

Charting in Fiji (and many coral-ridden areas) is not great and software like Navionics and OpenCPN or Maxsea, both of which we have used with C-Maps don’t show some reefs and often show reefs (and even small islands) where there are none. In these situations a standard depth sounder even using CHIRP tech has limited value because the coral mostly rises near vertically from the sea floor. Now you’re clear, now you’re not. And I don’t believe that CHIRP can see much ahead of the boat. It may see a rise in the sea floor a tad earlier but it won’t see a rise from 50m depth to shoal over a distance of 50m.

In coral-infested waters there is a saying: you have either hit the coral or you’re going to. The best solution for that is forward-looking sonar. Oh how I wish I could afford it.
I looked at the Garmin Pantopix transducers after reading your post. Livevue and all that. $1500-$3500 transducer.....I can definitely see the value based on your scenario. Useful when creeping around an anchorage or navigating an entrance to a harbor or atoll. If my math is correct, (probably not as I haven’t had my coffee yet) T=Dx60/S, so 25 seconds warning at five knots. If that unit sounded an alarm (not sure it does) I could maybe make it to the helm, assess what’s happening and make a change in time. Maybe. If I’m at the helm then yes, that could definitely save the boat for sure.

Regarding Fiji, that’s distressing to hear. You’d think those reefs would be charted by now. Perhaps there’s still value in old school paper charts or local pilot charts when exploring those areas?

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