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Old 15-02-2013, 09:52   #1
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Hand held depth finder

Hello All,
Noob on this forum. I would like to know if there is any experience with some of the hand held depth finders. I draw 5 feet and it would be advantageous to check depth with the dink before sticking our nose into some places. The "drive dingy with one hand, dip boat pole with the other hand" method is a little awkward and a permanent depth sounder in a small inflatable is a bit of overkill.

Thanks
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:06   #2
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Small spinning rod with heavy weight and different colored small floats for each depth?
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:12   #3
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Re: Hand held depth finder

I have one and it works fine but is as you point out awkward. It only gives snapshot reads so it's lean over the dink, get hand soaked pushing button, lift to read depth, repeat. The bigger problem is you can't get a good idea of bottom contour/makeup without a continuous readout.
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:29   #4
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Re: Hand held depth finder

From the dinghy, I sometimes use lead line. A small float tied at about 1ft above your draft tells you when the place gets too shallow.

I think if I were to need dinghy based readings on a more regular basis, I would hook a small sounder and a gps and load the data into a file. Then one can create point depth chart onboard mothership.

b.
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:30   #5
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Re: Hand held depth finder

I saw somewhere a company with a ~3 foot remote controled boat with a wireless fish finder on it, then you could just drop it over and drive the model over the area in question and "see" what is down there. has IIRC 500-1000 ft range ~$350

or HummingBird Cast series and hang the transponder over the side of the dinghy, ~$100
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:39   #6
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Re: Hand held depth finder

I have no experience with them, but if you enjoy gunkholing where others dont go, you have a good idea. I'm sure most name brands work just fine. Alot easier than a lead line or dipping an oar.
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Old 15-02-2013, 11:03   #7
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Re: Hand held depth finder

Several good ideas. Thanks. I may have to do a transom mount on the dingy but once you put something on the dingy (besides the security issue) one also has something else to break, wires to trip on ect. I would like to hear from someone who has actually used one of the hand held finders. The specific brand/model would be very useful. The reports on the sales type web sites are very uneven. From "I love it, works great." to "First one quit working in 10 min. and the replacement quit also." There seems to be no rime or reason or consensuses on quality.
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Old 15-02-2013, 11:31   #8
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Re: Hand held depth finder

Mine is the Vexilar Lps-1. It is 10 years old and works fine with the stated limitations. Quality seems solid. Have to replace the 9 volt battery about twice a year.
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Old 15-02-2013, 11:53   #9
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Re: Hand held depth finder

Go to Amazon.com and search under handheld depth finder. Lots of reviews, including this one:
Speedtech® Depthmate Portable Sounder</SPAN>
We used this portable, flashlight sized depth-sounder throughout the South Pacific; diving, swiming, and for advance sounding while bringing our boat through the reef pass. It works perfect, it's definitely not a toy, it's the real deal. I highly recommend it as a diving, boating aid. Good product, completely waterproof.
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Old 15-02-2013, 12:23   #10
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Re: Hand held depth finder

I have had the SpeedTech hand held for 10+ years and use it in the manner you describe. Another option is a portable "fish finder" with an LCD screen which is somewhat better at mapping out bottom contours compared with the spot readings of the hand held. One can mount the transducer on a piece of plastic pipe so that it can be held below the level of the outboard to avoid the turbulance caused by the prop as you motor along slowly. A "wireless" fish finder glued into the bottom of a small RC model boat also makes an effective drone up to about 300 feet off the bow of the mothership or dinghy.

FWIW...
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Old 15-02-2013, 12:34   #11
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Re: Hand held depth finder

I used a handheld on my last trip for the first time. A big improvement over a long stick, oar, etc.
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Old 15-02-2013, 12:43   #12
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Re: Hand held depth finder

We bought the Norcross Hawkeye, but didnt read the reviews. Like everyone else, our only worked a few times to show depth. Unfortunately, we were outside the warranty zone when we figured this out and are stuck with it. Don't get this one!
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Old 15-02-2013, 16:18   #13
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Re: Hand held depth finder

We find a HH depthsounder VERY useful in our cruising - it is used frequently. Ours is (was) the Speedtech Depthmate, but it recently died on us. It was 15 years old.

The Vexilar is the same as the Speedtech - just a different name or rebadge of the product.

After reading all sorts of bad reviews on the Norcross Hawkeye, we will replace with another Speedtech. Too bad, because the Norcross is quite a bit less expensive than the Speedtech - I guess you get what you pay for.

Mark
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Old 15-02-2013, 16:29   #14
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I have a HH sounder with the transducer removably mounted in my tender. I will sometimes anchor deep then do a couple of transects in the dinghy, then move in closer if all looked good.
Narrow beam so I have to be careful if bommies are likely, but better than nothing especially when you do 2 or 3 stripes. Good for river entrances too - wife in dingy guides me in.
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Old 15-02-2013, 17:31   #15
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Anyone tried the Marcum digital handheld sonar. It looks good because the readout is on the end. Available at Amazon.
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