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Old 02-08-2018, 07:15   #1
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Forward Facing Sonar

I searched to see if there was a discussion on this; but, maybe it's such a new gadget, not a lot of folks are using? I don't know, but that's why I'm here. We're looking to update our electronics on SV ELLI and one of the whistles in the package we're eyeing hard includes the add on of Forward-Facing Sonar. Given that we are getting our first 10K NM in the Pacific Northwest, it was recommended twice by two different sales people, who also have spent years sailing in the PNW. However, we're not finding a lot of folks talking about it much in the books we're reading, along the docks we visit, etc.

So, we turn once again to this wealthy vault of knowledge.

Tell us about Forward-Facing Sonar and if it's worth $600, please.

FYI -- we are just beginning our second year of sailing -- our first with our own boat. Our five-year plan is to get off-shore. Currently, we only have a flaky depth sounder, knot meter, and wind meter. We are doing charting on a phone. On our survey it was recommended we replace, but our kit is from the 80s and we've determined from months of searching and research, a complete upgrade is necessary.
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:27   #2
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

I had a forward facing sonar in the late 1990s. I was warned it was useless, but bought it anyway. I learned, after much trail and error, that the warnings were accurate, it was useless. Perhaps the newer technologies are better. The problem seemed to be the transducer is mounted only a few feet below the water line, and wave action combined with even slight pitching motion of the boat would render the return echo unusable. Once again, that was 20 years ago and technologies have improved.
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:14   #3
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

We cruise with an Echopilot FLS. It is useful when anchoring in new areas and poking around poorly charted areas. The PNW is excellently charted and mostly deep. I don't think FLS is all that useful in this area.
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:35   #4
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Wide variety of sonars out there. I've asked the same thing. I've used several sonars but not any with forward-looking features.


So it depends on your expectations. The received wisdom, when I have asked, is that even the best systems will not detect an obstruction in time to stop the boat at cruising speed.


If you are fishing, or really want to see what's under the boat in shallow areas, the various 3D sonar products are just fantastic, but they are expensive ($3000 typical plus installation). They are side looking, however, not forward looking. They would allow you to perform a much more accurate survey of an uncharted or poorly charted area, in a reasonable amount of time, than would be possible with depth only. These are proven systems that are widely used for sport and commercial fishing. If I were looking for an upgrade from a basic depth instrument, this would be my choice.


The forward looking sonar seems like it could be useful for poking along at 1 kt in iffy areas where the water clarity is too poor to allow a visual assessment. After some close calls I am at the point where I do that sort of survey in a smaller boat. Why take a chance in something with deep draft and poor maneuverability? If the water is like pea soup and sonar says there's an obstruction ahead, there's no guarantee that you can reverse out of it or that you have room to turn.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:56   #5
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Forward Looking Sonar


https://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvisor/3D-Sonar
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:10   #6
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

I have a B&G Forward Scan unit on my boat and consider it basically about as useful as watching a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon while trying to maneuver in skinny water.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:32   #7
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Iíve been using a chirp system and itís ok but takes some getting used to. Ymmv
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:48   #8
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Chirp is not forward looking unless you have something extra neato and new
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:20   #9
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

I believe the major mfd mfgrs currently have forward looking sonar that display obstructions with range and depth. Reviews have been good. On the water, I have only had first-hand opportunities to use the Garmin version, and found it very useful in ICW navigation and exploring off-path shallows for anchoring.

However, the link below is to a current forward scanning product that demonstrates how fast technology is moving. This isnít ďsecretĒ stuff.

I spoke to a Garmin tech who reports that an in-hull transducer should be released ďsoon.Ē

The link is captured from a transom mounted transducer.



Iíve found that you tube videos, especially those uploaded by users of various mfgrs products can be a useful tool in product research, but hardly the last word.

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Old 03-08-2018, 07:26   #10
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

I have used two or three EchoPilot models. They were pretty useless. Maybe newer products are better though.


I have also used a chirp thing last year and it was pretty awesome, imho. As noted above, the chirp gizmo was not looking forward. And it is 2017 technology while the EchoPilots I used were all 2007-2012 years/models.


Go see if there is anything like a fls chirp. This could be the thing to inspect and maybe buy.


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Old 03-08-2018, 13:38   #11
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

I stand corrected. That video looks like some pretty good stuff.
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Old 03-08-2018, 23:29   #12
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Aswayze,

Why is the B &G forward scan not useful? Whats your report please?


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Old 04-08-2018, 01:55   #13
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

Fwd scan has its place. Itís great for poking around anchorageís, and avoiding coral heads. Slowly. Itís useless pretty much for avoiding floating objects, so what do you want to use it for? I have the B&G unit, used to have an old interphase probe.
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Old 04-08-2018, 04:02   #14
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

We have an older forward looking sonar, fantastic for going into shallow anchorages or channels. However, useless if you want it to pick up a container or similar when in the open ocean.
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Old 04-08-2018, 04:03   #15
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Re: Forward Facing Sonar

We have an older forward looking sonar, fantastic for going into shallow anchorages or channels. However, useless if you want it to pick up a container or similar when in the open ocean.
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