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I have not tried a camera . I think if I had to do something like that I would get a remote control for the autopilot and stand on the bow . And go really slow .
 

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S/V Wyndwitch - Morgan 24
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What are you watching for? I pick through the flats quite often with sails eased off genny partially furled . Like using a boat hook to sound the seasonal channels. Also wear polarized glasses you can see color changes on water and bottom far better.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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it depends on where you are. Here in Southern NJ, the back bays are a pretty uniform opaque green. The oceans are much more clear and you can generally tell shallow areas from deep by the colour
 

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I've never seen one in action, but I question whether the resolution on a camera/screen would be sufficient to distinguish water depth coloration.

They do make forward depth sounders, but I'm not sure how well they work either.
 

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Kind of goes along with a thread that's active now about the age of sailing.... the gizmos. Trying to watch a screen and sail the boat is akin to a pilot chasing his VSI while flying VFR. The possibility exists that one would get focased in on the screen and forget to watch what's going on all around and have an "oops".

I'd strongly advise against such procedure and follow Oyserman's .02. If you have a depth sounder with an alarm, you can set that to any depth... when that rascal says "beep".... you take it from there.
 

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I wonder if a fish finder could be rigged on the bow with the screen in the cockpit to help navigate in shallow water. Where I sail (Pamlico Sound) the water is dark tea color and you cant see a whole lot.
 

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Corsair 24
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markwestis post is on the mark...

have some form of controllable autopilot or manual method of steering the boat from the bow(I have used lines to blocks to a tiller before) and you can perch yourself on the bow pit, or even at the mast a little higher up so you can get a better visual of the waters you are travelling...

I have often stood on the mast winches on bigger boats that raises you like 5 feet or so off the cabin deck...this is usually a much better point of view than at deck level and helps contrast those areas you are looking to avoid...

safe sailing!

ps this is assuming you have a depthsounder btw...if not you can navigate slowly with a long pole or stick and sound the areas you are navigating, if its murky...another method of course is the classic line and weight with markers...I like the pole cause if string enough and on small boats you can move yourself if need be...
 

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The problem with the remote AP idea is you still may need to suddenly stop and reverse.

btw - that functionality is available too - we watched a guy dock his 55 MY with a remote from his foredeck last summer... gearshift, bow and stern thrusters all by wireless remote. I think the only limitation he had was no throttle, it was all at idle. Money fixes all!! ;)
 

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ergo the GO SLOWLY PART

and yes money can fix it all...but Ive seen some stuff that money intended to fix on boats and MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN we could start a whole new thread on miracle money fixes! jajajaja

cheers
 
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Discussion Starter #11
I think my point got missed

I travel in the north channel in the great lakes where depth can go from 60ft to 1ft instantly. I am planning on going to the caribbean and I am told you need a bow watch to get into some places and was looking for any ideas. The problem with remote steering is you can not stop remotely. I do not know how well forward looking depth sounders work for coral heads.
 

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For short distance hunting your way through coral heads in the Caribbean, though it would look odd, if your boat behaves backing up, I'd go in in reverse.. with the added bonus of generally better 'brakes'... and in the cockpit you've got the normal 'bow' perspective.

The downside would be you're also 'rudder first'... so YMMV...
 

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Re: I think my point got missed

I travel in the north channel in the great lakes where depth can go from 60ft to 1ft instantly. I am planning on going to the caribbean and I am told you need a bow watch to get into some places and was looking for any ideas. The problem with remote steering is you can not stop remotely. I do not know how well forward looking depth sounders work for coral heads.
Well I am down in the Caribbean and have single handed through the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos where the skinny stuff is without a problem. Just wear a pair of polarized sunglasses and make sure you can stand up high at the wheel so you have a reasonable angle over the bow.

Do not sweat it the mark one eyeball is the thing to use rather than technology.
 

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hmmm with all due respect that is just not right...(man tqa came in between! jajaja) I was reffering to reversing into coral heads

if you are very very unfamiliar and your charts dont show details well...the time proven method is to scope out your area FIRST

you can:

stop heave to and scope out from the mast, sometimes even binoculars...

you can lower sails and kill engine and anchor for a while if possible

you can deploy your inflatable, or dinghy and do some reconaissance(this is what works best)


if you are so unsure still you can take a line and sounder and physically sound the areas you want to go to, a portable fishfinder like kayakers use is what comes to mind here if you can afford one they are around $100.

if still not possible then go somewhere else...dont risk boat or life by "making" some place...

goiong rudder first into coral heads IS AAAAAAAAAAAAA NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

we used these methods in the red sea where there are a lot of badly charted areas...and unmarked entrances etc...

good luck
 

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Re: I think my point got missed

I travel in the north channel in the great lakes where depth can go from 60ft to 1ft instantly. I am planning on going to the caribbean and I am told you need a bow watch to get into some places and was looking for any ideas. The problem with remote steering is you can not stop remotely. I do not know how well forward looking depth sounders work for coral heads.

will you be sailing solo or not?

good fishfinders do well...but cheap ones sometimes dont show enogh details to help you other than give a "general" view of the bottom...

at least in my experience..

if you have crew then a lookout is absolutely a neccesity.:)
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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There's something called forward looking radar that can be installed on recreational boats. Talked to someone who had it on his 44-footer up in the PNW somewhere. Look it up. Not sure how much it would cost or how well it works, but it sounded cool, if you're into that techy stuff.
 

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Re: I think my point got missed

I travel in the north channel in the great lakes where depth can go from 60ft to 1ft instantly. I am planning on going to the caribbean and I am told you need a bow watch to get into some places and was looking for any ideas. The problem with remote steering is you can not stop remotely. I do not know how well forward looking depth sounders work for coral heads.
I've somehow managed to explore a fair amount of the Caribbean basin without a bow watch... I think a remote camera would be worthless, and as Dave E and TQA wisely point out, you are gonna be far better off keeping your eyes outside of the boat, than on some screen or device inside it... And, if your boat is gonna be fitted with a cockpit bimini, you'd be well advised to arrange it so that it can easily be folded back out of the way, to enable a more elevated view from the cockpit...

Bottom line is, learning to read the water, and only piloting such waters in good light, is far more important than any reliance on any gizmo... It's really quite simple: If you can't see sufficiently well from the cockpit, or proceed at such a pace to comfortably work your way into a tricky spot, well... then DON'T GO THERE...


 

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In theory, one might mount a wireless cam on ones masthead. I suspect that wouldn't work too well however, and one would be staring at a screen when one really needs one's head out of the cockpit.

If your boat is tiller steered, one can use an arrangement that I did with an earlier boat a l-o-n-g time ago. Essentially, I rigged two lines to the tiller, one each from each side to snatch blocks on either side of the cockpit and thence led forward to the bow pulpit. There I wrapped each line around a short length of dowel to give myself hand grips. With these and our trusty/rusty Evenrude Angler outboard at dead slow, I could stand on the bow and helm myself through shallows by eye. When I came to a blind cul de sac, a good snatch threw the helm over far enough that the boat would do a fairly sharp 180º turn or just circle in place.

With the boat we have now and wheel steering, the foregoing method wouldn't work very well as the prospective range of motion of the helm would be limited. As an alternative, we anchor or my better half simply circles the boat while I reconnoiter a safe passage with our dinghy and hand held depth meter. One can mark the passage with a "breadcrumb trail" of foam cups with a length of fishing line long enough to reach the bottom, passed through the bottoms and attached to a small fishing weight. Of course, one goes back and retrieves the cups for future use with one's dinghy and simply follows the yacht's recorded tack--the "Track Back" function--on one's GPS when later departing.

FWIW...
 
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There's something called forward looking radar that can be installed on recreational boats. Talked to someone who had it on his 44-footer up in the PNW somewhere. Look it up. Not sure how much it would cost or how well it works, but it sounded cool, if you're into that techy stuff.
It's sonar, actually, and is a rather expensive add-on... While it can be effective, it becomes less so the shallower the depths become...

Forward-looking sonar could be great to have in a poorly charted region such as Labrador, or Greenland... But for visual piloting in the Caribbean, reliance on such a system to spot coral heads would be a fool's errand, seems to me...


 
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