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Old 06-09-2012, 06:46   #1
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Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I am outfitting my circumnavigator and am considering forward scanning sonar. Anyone have any experience? Thoughts? Rants? Raves? Anyone know a good brand/pricing/maintenance/pitfalls?
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:17   #2
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

Conceputally, sounds good. Nofirst-hand experience, though. Typical depth finders mostly show you the depth of what you just hit -- have OK experience with that

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Old 06-09-2012, 16:09   #3
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I've had one. Waste of time.

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Old 06-09-2012, 17:06   #4
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I used one - the very basic model made by EchoPilot (I think back then it was called Bronze). Excellent.

Do not count on it to warn you of containers happily bobbing on your course BUT they do perform well when e.g. entering a shallowing anchorage, etc..

b.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:27   #5
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I have an older Interphase Probe. It takes a bit a practice to read, and can be difficult to interpret at times. It gives good information, but you need to really look at it to see what is going on. I find myself usually distracted with other things to look at when entering a cove, so its hard to also get the information you want from the unit.

All-in-all a useful instrument that can save you from a grounding, and good for surveying an anchorage, but not real easy to use.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:41   #6
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

have you though about just getting a cheap fish finder and shooting the signal forwards (instead of downwards) to the angle you want?

I cant see why that wouldn't work and it was something that i was thinking of doing when i get my boat in the water and also to put a video camera on the top of the mast to see visually whats ahead of me.

In combination both items would let you know when somethings in front of you and it would also let you know the distance, depth etc and would work out considerably cheaper than the price of a real forward looking sonar unit.

others may have a differing view, but i like to look outside the box.

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Old 06-09-2012, 17:45   #7
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I used one - the very basic model made by EchoPilot (I think back then it was called Bronze). Excellent.

Do not count on it to warn you of containers happily bobbing on your course BUT they do perform well when e.g. entering a shallowing anchorage, etc..

b.
I'd like to hire you to come teach me how to read mine (an Echopilot Gold).

It's all Greek to me -- a lot of gibberish out of which I have never been able to recognize a single useful datum. It never seems to tell anything about how the bottom slopes -- always shows it sloping down. Oddly, I do once and a while see remarkably fine detail -- the chain from the Poole Harbour chain ferry for example. But never anything useful -- not even a single time. Maybe I just don't understand it.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:55   #8
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I had an interphase, it was good for mapping bottom features. It was hard to interpret the info sometimes, but it did warn of sloping bottom faster than depth finder.

Which as mentioned just shows you what you hit.
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Old 06-09-2012, 18:27   #9
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I looked at getting one but instead worked on the fact that any skipper with half a brain should realise if they are getting into a shallow anchorage.
I decided its far better to launch the dinghy with a $100 fishfinder on board and use that to sound out the area before venturing forth.
Cheaper as well.

Also, on a shallow draft cat that will be beached, the transducer looks very vulnerable to damage
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:26   #10
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I spose they work, I guess, but the folks Ive known that had them seemed to feel they were to hard to read !! I still use a lead line to anchor in a place thats new to me !!But heck Im a Bare bones kinda guy !
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:44   #11
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I've got an interphase probe........saved my boat more times than I can count.. when the water gets thin, we turn the probe on..
Was entering Moss Landing on the California Coast a couple years ago, Was well within the channel markers but the probe picked up the rock and shallow areas..
When I got into the Yacht Club, I mentioned the issues with the channel markers and the depth..
Was told it was local knowledge.. when the tide is at an extreme LOW, and the wind is blowing from the north, the channel markers drift to the south and into shallow areas.. and the rocks..
any time we're entering an unknown area, we set the beam forward and set the alarm.. works for us........
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Old 06-09-2012, 19:51   #12
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

They can be useful at slow speed when entering a harbor or anchorage, but not useful at sea.
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Old 06-09-2012, 20:02   #13
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

I have used the Interphase Color Twin Scope since I commissioned the boat six years ago.

There is a learning curve, but to say it is junk or not worth the trouble is absolutely wrong!

It has gotten me out of trouble more than once in the Sacramento Delta with its shifting sand bottoms.

When I started cruising I found it a VERY valuable tool in unfamiliar anchorages... espcially in Mexico where some of the charts were off a 1/4 mile or more.

It also allows us to get into some achorges other boats won't try, because they can't see the bottom contours or coral heads. You can see the slope of the bottom very clearly.

I would buy another one!
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Old 06-09-2012, 21:27   #14
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

It's been a couple of years since I've looked into it, but at the time their advertisment would state that it was good some x feet in front of the boat. That may have been true, but what wasn't emphisized was that number was for deep water. In shallow water the forward component was much less and IMHO of very marginal use.
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Old 06-09-2012, 21:50   #15
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Re: Forward Scanning Sonar - Is It Any Good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I used one - the very basic model made by EchoPilot (I think back then it was called Bronze). Excellent.

Do not count on it to warn you of containers happily bobbing on your course BUT they do perform well when e.g. entering a shallowing anchorage, etc..

b.
I'm just curious as to why a forward sounder is not useful for detecting floating containers. If the container can be sounded, shouldn't it appear on the screen as a variation in the area in front of the transducer...?

I could understand why they may not be useful for detecting objects such a floating logs due to their size and how close they are to the surface. But a container is much larger and can be easily sounded.
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