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Old 17-08-2010, 07:03   #1
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Depth Sounder Recommendations

I've cruised from the Big Bend area on the west coast of Florida, around to Jacksonville without a reliable depth sounder. I'm heading up the coast in a few weeks (yes, I know that's the wrong way to go in the Fall), and would really like a sounder I can count on.

I have a brand new Hawkeye with a transom mount, but it has never worked well for me. Most of the time, it just reads ---. I don't know if it can't read the FL mud, or what, but it never seems to work when I need it.

I will need a transom mount, because I don't have any holes in my hull right now, and don't particularly want any.

The hull is wood, so I don't believe a 'shoot through the hull' model will work. I tried it with my current transducer and got nada. Of course, if someone knows of a transducer powerful enough to shoot through a 1"+ thick wooden hull, I'd love to hear about it.

So, anyone have a depth sounder they love?

-- John
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Old 17-08-2010, 07:21   #2
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You have no chance of getting a depth sounder or fish finder to work though a 1" wooden hull. However if the Hawkeye is new it should work. Sounds like it isn't getting a signal from the transducer. Is it properly immersed? and the connections good?

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Old 17-08-2010, 07:34   #3
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Yes I have the transducer mounted on the stern and it does work *sometimes*. Usually when I don't need it. It switches from reading the depth properly to '---', which the manual says means that it can't determine the depth because the bottom is too soft, or whatever.

Of course, in FL, the whole bottom is mud, as far as I can tell. At least off the ICW in shallow-ish anchorages.

I've been using my long boat hook as a sounding pole. That is 100% reliable, but a bit inconvenient, to say the least.

I also have a sounding lead, but the boat hook is faster/easier when single handing (actually, I have two hands, but they are usually both busy when coming into an anchorage.)

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Old 17-08-2010, 07:51   #4
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Right, if you are single handing then you don't need this (enough things to worry about). Ditch the Hawkeye and fit a small Eagle fish finder. Not only gives you depth and temp but more importantly show you if its getting shallower before you run aground The grey scale also shows the bottom type with practise.

Try Wallmark or local fishing tackle shop for something like this, or for a bit more there is a colour version.

EAGLE CUDA 300 FISHFINDER - Eagle - EAGLE CUDA 300 FISHFINDER - Eagle - Discount Marine Chandlery and Sailing Equipment. Bargain Boat Spares and Clothing

We have a dual Garmin GPS / sounder and in shallow water wouldn't be without the sounder running. Fish appear as fish, but interestingly divers appear as little men swimming across the screen, really cool

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Old 17-08-2010, 08:34   #5
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Where da heck is the bottom?

You could have one of those rare instances where the equipment is at fault, but usually it is the installation - sounds like an intermittent connection problem. Try tightening everything up again, check that the transducer is in the water at all times.
I use a Hummingbird fish finder with a transom mount on the stern of the dinghy and it works just fine. The fishfinders do give you an indication of bottom conditions - and point out fish.
You should get a response on any meter in all but the softest "mud-water"...

Michael
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Old 17-08-2010, 08:49   #6
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I suppose it could be a lemon.

The connections are pretty simple. The transducer cable and power plug into the back of the display. Hard to mess up.

The transducer cable is pretty long. I had to coil up the extra length. I wonder if that coil could be the problem? Perhaps there is some induction in the coil that is affecting the signal.

The power is good because I get the '---' when its not working.

The transducer is probably 8" under water, on the opposite side of the rudder from my outboard, in clear water. It does come out sometimes when I'm on the wrong tack, or if the boat is pitching, but under those conditions, I don't usually care about the depth.

When slowly motoring into an anchorage, the transducer is definitely submerged.

Weird, eh?
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:44   #7
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I have seen the --- on mine, mostly when the engine is running and the water is shallow over a mud bottom. I'm assuming that the transducer isn't strong enough to be "heard" above the screw noise. I make this assumption as I also lose depth when in the ICW behind a pushboat without the engine running.
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:56   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
I have seen the --- on mine, mostly when the engine is running and the water is shallow over a mud bottom. I'm assuming that the transducer isn't strong enough to be "heard" above the screw noise. I make this assumption as I also lose depth when in the ICW behind a pushboat without the engine running.
This is with the Hawkeye? Exactly my problem: motoring in shallow water over mud. Exactly when you need it!

I have a Yamaha T9.9 high thrust outboard, which has a pretty big prop, but it's on the other side of my large, transom-hung rudder. But I didn't think of turbulence or noise being reflected off the bottom. That could be it.

I think I just need a better, more powerful unit, or one that is just better engineered to work in these circumstances.
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Old 17-08-2010, 13:49   #9
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If I was buying a new depth sounder (I was dreaming about this the other day... those stupid dreams 'if I hada few spare dollars would I get drunk or buy a depth sounder?") I would think about one of those ones thats meant to be able to tell you if the bottom is mud, rock, sand, how dense etc.

I would love one of those things on a big screen where you drive over the aread and them come back and drop the pick in some smooth patch of firm mud - not in some ricky outcrop.

I don't know how expensive they are as I woke up at that moment just before I read the price tag...........
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Old 17-08-2010, 18:48   #10
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I'm still trying to figure out how they can distinguish between a fish and a diver, no less between different bottom types
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