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Old 24-01-2017, 06:35   #1
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Depth gauge vs fish finder

Good Morning, I have a 28' fin keel sailboat with no working depth gauge. I am wondering what would be the best choice depth gauge like Faria or a fish finder chart plotter? I like the way the Faria type would mount. I really don't see how to mount the fish finder type in a way the could be easily removed and stored when I'm not on the boat.

I would appreciate any input. Thank you
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Old 24-01-2017, 07:09   #2
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Re: depth gauge v fish finder

Any small inexpensive fish finder would work, they all have a rack I guess you would call it with two knobs that you loosen to remove the unit and usually two plugs in the back, one power and the other the transducer, takes about 30 sec to remove.
Then a transom mount transducer would be easiest to mount or a shoot thru the hull transducer assuming you have no transducer now.
My preference is for a shoot thru the hull as no holes in the boat, it isn't vulnerable and you don't have to pull the boat to mount it, and near as I can tell, they work just as well.
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Old 24-01-2017, 07:18   #3
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Re: depth gauge v fish finder

for a very short one year i had both. i like having both--one forward of keel , one at cockpit.
i miss my fishfinder--sun baked the screen. i seek another...and i have a transducer and gps for gps based sounder-- both together is a good team
AND a lead line. must have lead line.
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Old 24-01-2017, 07:20   #4
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Re: depth gauge v fish finder

Help us out, are you considered with where the cockpit display would mount or the transducer?

Most fish finder types, which I prefer as they show contour, temp, and a little cheaper, come as flush mount adapters for the display . Just got a cheapy lowrance gornmy powerboat. Works great.
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Old 24-01-2017, 08:12   #5
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Re: depth gauge v fish finder

Shortly after i got my 36 footer the Tacktik it had gave up the ghost. But apparently the transducer itself was fine. So I wired a cheap Eagle/Lowrance which I saved from my previous boat directly to it and it only lost the water temp function. Actually it shows the temp just not the correct one (may be I did not re-wire properly) but the depth function is fine. I would advise to double check the transducer to make sure it is truly dead. They are usually too hardy to die and I was told it is mostly the display units or bad connections somewhere which are the culprits of malfunctions. On my first boat the PO just cut the wire from the 30+ year old transducer too close to the unit so we could not rewire it but after we puled it out and were able to check the unit it turned out to be working fine. The PO was probably misled by the display malfunction or some such.

My knowledgeable marine pro buddy says that most transducers are more like light bulbs i.e. compatible with other models/makes of displays as long as they are from related electronics i.e. just like a 12v auto bulb is compatible with most other auto bulbs, sometimes with simple alterations of the base contacts if that. But the manufacturers of course will tell you otherwise.
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Old 24-01-2017, 08:37   #6
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

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Originally Posted by ddiesel View Post
Good Morning, I have a 28' fin keel sailboat with no working depth gauge. I am wondering what would be the best choice depth gauge like Faria or a fish finder chart plotter? I like the way the Faria type would mount. I really don't see how to mount the fish finder type in a way the could be easily removed and stored when I'm not on the boat.

I would appreciate any input. Thank you
I have a transom mount transducer with my Garmin. For redundancy I added a Vexilar T-box fishfinder forward of the keel (shoot thru). Two features that I liked about the Vexilar is that 1) it is a wifi hot spot so data is sent to your phone/tablet (no wires to the helm) and 2) it interfaces with Navionics. I use a small tablet at helm that displays the Navionics with the depth data from the T-box. Works pretty well thus far.

Here's a youtube video showing application on a tablet:


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Old 24-01-2017, 09:08   #7
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

Assuming they are NMEA2K transducers, a Garmin GMI-20 display works nice. Very configurable and I like the quality of the display. They are meant to be flush mounted, but I used one in a prior boat in a homemade mount so I could put it inside when not in use. On current boat it is mounted in a pod. They only need the NMEA2K cable, nothing else.

However, for only a little more money you can get a B&G 9" Vulcan FS MFD with sonar. Works with 7 pin transducer [Blue Cap] (with adapter) or a 9 pin one [Black cap]. It is NMEA2K only, no NMEA0183 so if you have an older VHF with DSC you would need a converter. Vulcan can be flush mounted or in a bracket so it can be removed when not in use. Uses a separate 12V power cable, a NMEA2K cable and Transducer Cable (If not a NMEA2K transducer).
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Old 24-01-2017, 09:41   #8
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

I thought the OP wants to know which is better, fish finder OR depth only gauge.

Anyone?
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Old 24-01-2017, 09:50   #9
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

As a number of people have pointed out, you have a plethora of options. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option though.

A separate depth gauge, properly mounted, will give you an instant, constant, and non confusing picture of what is going on. You will not need to change screens, risk misreading the information on the screen, etc. I always have a separate depth and temperature gauge and warning light so I don;t lose situational awareness.

The disadvantage of an inexpensive depth gauge is that it only provides you with limited information (some do include water temperature and alerts as well as keel offsets).

A fish finder/chart plotter will have the advantage of providing additional information that will assist you in different situations. For example, the Garmin 44DV or Strikers can provide you with a photo like image of the bottom that will greatly assist you when anchoring (others do the same but call their systems names other than Downview).

A disadvantage of using a fish finder/chart plotter for your primary depth gauge is that you risk losing situational awareness. Pilots and the military call this information overload. Many of the chart plotters these days, and to a lesser extent the fish finders, provide so much information that you can easily lose sight of the depth.

There are plenty of good and inexpensive depth gauges. In particular, I like the Norcross hawkeye D10. They are between $80 and $110 depending upon who is selling and when (I think they are around $140 with H2O temp readings) and are easy to install. The D10 includes a transom mount transducer but it can be mounted in the hull. Be sure the hull is solid and that there is no turbulence where it is mounted.

There are plenty of good and inexpensive chart plotters and fish finders too. Many companies are selling some Garmin 44DVs and 54DVs (and larger units) at clearance prices since there is a newer model coming out. Don't worry about it being outdated. The difference is not in the unit but in the transducer. The software in the unit can easily be updated to handle the new transducer if you desire but it is not needed.

If price is your consideration, get the depth gauge. if price is not an option, get both. Good luck with what ever you decide.
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Old 24-01-2017, 09:52   #10
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

I appreciate the feed back. Boat came with old depth sounder. Scraped that out. I was just wondering whether there is an advantage to installing depth gauge like farir over the fish finder type Maybe more dependable or use less juice. I am thinking of going with the dragonfly pro, if i go with fish finder. Does anyone have any experience with that unit? Could you recommend a specific unit. Thanks
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Old 24-01-2017, 09:54   #11
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

I have both on my boat. The depth transducer is forward of the keel, the Garmin 44dv sonar is mounted aft of the keel, shoots thru the hull. I find the sonar much more useful, it gives you the depth, the trend, how quickly depth is decreasing and many other functions. I am sure it uses slightly more power than the ST60+ depth but it is minimal either way. The Garmin has many modes/frequencies and some are affected by the vibration of the engine/shaft, so keep this in mind when choosing a mount point.
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Old 24-01-2017, 09:58   #12
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

I have had fish finders on 3 sailboats. I like them. Cheap and reliable. These were all backup units to the built in normal depth finder. I often just used the fish finder instead. A couple of them read far deeper than standard depth finders.
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Old 24-01-2017, 10:08   #13
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddiesel View Post
I appreciate the feed back. Boat came with old depth sounder. Scraped that out. I was just wondering whether there is an advantage to installing depth gauge like farir over the fish finder type
The advantage of a separate depth gauge is that it provides situational awareness. With a fish finder you can suffer from information overload. In other words, it is easy to lose sight of the depth due to all the other information.

The fish finder or chart plotter has the advantage of providing additional information but requires more of your attention to process the info.

If the budget permits, don't suffer from the tyranny of OR when you can have the genius of AND. If the budget is an issue, I would go with just the depth gauge.
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Old 24-01-2017, 10:08   #14
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

I had the Dragonfly on a boat we dove out of for finding dive sites, it was outstanding.
If the water was calm it gave a TV like image of the actual bottom, but if their was wave action, it didn't know if the boat was moving up and down or the bottom was changing depth, so it was way less precise.
But run over a sunken wreck or bridge span and you would get an almost photo of the wreck or bridge span in calm water, it was also my back-up plotter.
Downside is you have an almost foot long funny looking transducer that transom mounts and being so long it could be damaged I guess.
Attached image is not mine, but it is this good, the almost smoke like stuff you see above the wreck is fish
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Old 24-01-2017, 10:17   #15
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Re: Depth gauge vs fish finder

Other than the obvious something to check would be power consumption. I have sure enjoyed my fish finder the trend of depth is easy to see
Not knowing any better I cut the wires to the transducer before checking but I think it would have plugged into the fish finder? My transducer is setting in a glob of silicone well forward of the previous sensor I'am sure the signal is degraded ? But have not been far enough off shore to loose a signal yet
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