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Old 12-07-2013, 19:12   #1
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Depth Sounder

How useful are they, really?

The models I have seen come with the disclaimer to not use one as an aid to avoid running aground, but I can't see why else you would use one.
Is this just a legal liability statement, or am I missing something?
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:18   #2
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Legal liability statement. Some GPS units have a disclaimer "don't use for navigation purposes".

The important thing is to know the limitations of your equipment, and use due caution.
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:23   #3
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I understand the liability issues.
Just making sure.

I've been dealing with GPS in aviation long enough to consider it advisory only (in spite of the fact it's often used as primary).
I wasn't thinking I would rely on a depth sounder, but they seem really useful to me as an advisory navaid.
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:26   #4
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Re: Depth sounder

Are you talking about a typical thruhull mounted depth sounder? I have never seen a warning on any of them.

I consider a depth sounder a primary piece of gear - maybe the most important.

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Old 12-07-2013, 19:32   #5
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Depth sounder provides additional situational awareness. If you know the charted depth and measured depth match then you have another way to confirm position. If they are way different you know your presumed position may be inaccurate.

The accuracy of most major brands is pretty good. There is a slight difference between salt and fresh water readings but probably not significant for most purposes.

Depth sounders are not able to tell you what is coming up ahead so not really much of an aid to prevent grounding. That's what charts and eyes are for.
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:33   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Are you talking about a typical thruhull mounted depth sounder? I have never seen a warning on any of them.

I consider a depth sounder a primary piece of gear - maybe the most important.

Mark
Yeah, the through the hull variety.
I asked after looking at a manual.
Just making sure I wasn't missing something
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:35   #7
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Re: Depth sounder

Quote:
Originally Posted by oblivionboyj View Post
I understand the liability issues.
Just making sure.

I've been dealing with GPS in aviation long enough to consider it advisory only (in spite of the fact it's often used as primary).
I wasn't thinking I would rely on a depth sounder, but they seem really useful to me as an advisory navaid.

sorry, nautical units do not come with approach charts installed!

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Old 12-07-2013, 19:44   #8
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Re: Depth sounder

Depth sounders are a primary navigation tool! There have been times when it was all that could be used to guide a boat to a safe harbor, in heavy fog. The bottom conture at least in the PNW coast, is a great way to get where your going! They were used a lot more in the days when radar was something a lot of folks could nor afford to have aboard!! I have spent many a day running the 100 fathoms trench in fog so thick you could barely see the bow of the boat ! and they still are a great help if ya know the bottom conture of the coast your running !! Thats another good reason to have good paper charts where your sailing! the bottom is shown much better then on most of the electronic plotters Ive seen ! Just my 2 cents
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Old 12-07-2013, 19:56   #9
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Re: Depth sounder

My first two decades of boating didn't include radio, depth finder, or anything else electronic. Had just charts, compass, and eyes.

Happy to now have radar, GPS, electronic charts, and fathometer!
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Old 12-07-2013, 21:34   #10
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If nothing else, I find the emotional reassurance of a depth sounder invaluable for me.
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Old 21-07-2013, 07:55   #11
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Depth is a primary measurement... Makes dropping the pick a much safer exercise when you know how much water is under you and where it drops away, lets me watch the contour rising up towards me when I'm steaming at night or where the charts are iffy or the turbidity high, helps me catch dinner (find the reef, or use the fish finder though I've never found that feature helpful)... I can't imagine being without it.
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Old 21-07-2013, 08:08   #12
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Re: Depth Sounder

I consider the depth finder the second most important gear after the compass.

1. compass
2. depth finder
3. vhf radio

Thinking more about it, if just one peice of equipment was allowed....then forget the compass, depth finder and etc and give me the GPS
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Old 21-07-2013, 10:41   #13
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Right gps mapping as first. Depth is excellent.

Funny years ago I ranked the depth as primary electronic gear. That was when we had paper and in fog you could run the coast with a depth sounder reassuring the dead reckoning . Still spent alot of time getting eyes on bouy. Loran was a toy that worked but could flake out. Anyone using rdf anymore?
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Old 21-07-2013, 11:45   #14
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Re: Depth Sounder

I used to think I had to have a depth sounder. Then I bought my dream boat three years ago with zero electronics, due to lightning strike.

A few thousand miles later, at least 1000 on ICW/Chesapeake, and I haven't run aground yet... I did take extra care to stay in channels, and I only draw 4' though, so not really much of a challenge. I didn't skip the depth sounder by choice, just had to wait til haul out and get new transducer in then.

I just hooked up my new Raymarine i50 tridata, and I am glad to have depth again. It doesn't seem too accurate in mud when there is 2-3 feet of water under the transducer, but I look forward to being more adventurous and exploring shallow creeks and anchorages.

Pulled the speed transducer and put the plug in after leaving the boat. Curious to see how long that wheel keeps spinning.
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Old 21-07-2013, 11:58   #15
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Re: Depth Sounder

Hi everyone,

Having had a forward looking depth sounder on our first Insatiable, we installed one on our present one, even though it had a regular depth sounder as well. The forward looker displays a forward looking view of the bottom, and shows objects like coral rubble, big coraL heads, and shelves really well. It's not perfect, doesn't look like underwater photography, but we find it a useful aid.

Incidentally, we have friends who used to have a 26 foot boat that circumnavigated, and their only electronics was the depth sounder. As mentioned above, when one compares the depth sounding readings with the charts for the area, you can have early warning of running aground as well as knowing when you reach a continental shelf or want to know how much scope to use in an anchorage. As the OP suggests: an advisory tool.

Ann
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