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Old 05-29-2019, 02:07 PM   #1
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Forward looking sonar & Autopilot - good brands

So my boat is in refit and sadly I'm beginning to think I'll miss most of the summer. I am adding all new electronics with a Garmin 16 inch MDF unit but also Garmin forward looking sonar. Are there any other brands I should be looking at that will play well with Garmin?

Same question with autopilot.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:21 PM   #2
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Not a huge fan of forward looking sonar- I think it’s more gimmick that anything else.

Before pulling the trigger, you may want to review all the latest gear from Raymarine and Furuno as well as Garmin.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:53 PM   #3
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If you're using Garmin electronics, then nothing wrong with their sonar and autopilot, although their sonar has less distance coverage than some others. We had their sonar and autopilot on a boat and had no issues.

At one time I favored Simrad autopilots but today I'd be equally fine with all the others. On forward looking sonar, my preferences were Farsounder and then Echopilot next, but now others are slowly catching up.
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:01 PM   #4
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I like to stick with one manufacturer so that when there is a problem you only have to deal with one vendor. Rather than having 2 vendors pointing fingers at each other as to whose problem it is.
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:14 PM   #5
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I like to stick with one manufacturer so that when there is a problem you only have to deal with one vendor. Rather than having 2 vendors pointing fingers at each other as to whose problem it is.

Good point.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:54 PM   #6
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I have Interphase forward looking sonar. I think you have to consider what you're expectations are.

Feet in nautical mile: 6076.12

8knots = 48,608 feet per hour.
-> 810.13 feet per minute
-> 13.50 feet per second.

At 8kts a forward looking sonar at 40 feet will give you 2.96 seconds to react you before you hit it. Do you expect to look away from the display for more than 2.96 seconds?

It's helpful nosing into anchorages very, very slowly. That's about it.
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:23 PM   #7
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OP, I don’t have forward looking sonar, so I can’t comment. Based on the comments in Post 6, Curious what you are looking to achieve? IE, what data does forward looking provide you?
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:22 PM   #8
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I would suggest you check out Simrad NSO and NSS series. We have an NSO in our pilothouse with 2 19" screen and 12" NSS on the flybridge. they are network together for forward scan and side scan (structure scan). I love the forward scan and use for fishing and diving. It works great for for seeing what is in front of you in a new anchorage or shore line or what ever and we can see our anchor drop and when bring it up know where the chain is at. Those that do not have it, do not know what they are missing from a diving and fish perspective.

Simrad does a great job with updates that free. many of the new unit features come to your older unit for free in the way of software updates.

there support is great as well.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:24 PM   #9
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Never liked autopilots that weekenders use and the average yacht chandlers sell as I have had problems with them in the past.
Possibly because they rarely get used and are designed as such and at that stage I was sailing pretty much every day logging several hundred miles a week much of it single handed.

Never had a problem when I changed up to autopilots sold to commercial fisherman and the like, generally much more robust overspeced systems that are used daily in some pretty demanding conditions.

Our current vessel used to have fwd sonar, previous owner said it was a waste of money and when the head unit died it was never replaced.
Still have two house brick sized transducers down there though.
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:10 PM   #10
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As pointed out above, forward sonar is useful for anchorages. It's also very useful for marinas when you're told to dock in a certain area and want to check. Then it's useful when you go exploring a bit off the beaten path and want to read the situation carefully. It's not for high speed detection but it's very useful at slow speed in shallow waters. It only takes one time to pay for itself many times. We've been told to dock on a certain side in a marina with a 5' draft and quickly saw there was not 5' depth. The dockmaster didn't believe us so after we docked elsewhere we took a pole and went to the area and showed him. He said "It must have washed in."
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:34 PM   #11
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In our coastal waters, especially north of the Broughtons, charting isn't optimal and gunkholing is popular. So entering a new area with the potential of problems doing maybe three knots with forward sonar is a plus in my books.

I just watched a video of Prince Rupert with a guy bringing his boat in and I was surprised at how many logs there were bouncing around. So when I approach Prince Rupert, probably next summer, I'll be doing something like 3 knots approaching so I can avoid the logs.

The Garmin radar is suppose to be decent at seeing logs that are on the surface, deadheads floating below the surface, not so much. I plan on using the forward sonar at 5 knots or less coming into areas I'm not familiar with. I was listening to an electronics lecture by Jeff Cote of Pacific Yachting Systems and he tells the story of heading into an area in the Broughtons with an island not on any chart, same with shoals.

The areas above Desolation Sound into Alaska are not charted as well as areas further South where there are ten million boaters.
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Old 05-30-2019, 12:03 AM   #12
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Great if you can do 3 knots I guess.
Just clicked in gear has us doing 5.5 which is to fast.

We play in the shallows quite a bit but use the tender with plotter and sounder to scout out a path before putting the big boat at risk.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:29 AM   #13
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RSN, makes sense for the conditions you are describing.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:38 AM   #14
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We have a mixed bag of electronics, Furuno radar, Garmin GPS and Raymarine autopilot. The auto pilot was interfaced with basic two wire, 0183 and it would send heading information to the auto pilot and it worked just fine. I agree with others that I would give Garmin a hard look and unless there is a lot of issues with it I'd also look at Simrad or Raymarine.
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Old 05-30-2019, 02:33 PM   #15
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I guess Garmin all the way, it is. In an area I'm not sure about, I plan to do an arc scan at the entrance of said area in question. So boat halted, and an arc scan using the bow thruster.
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Old 05-31-2019, 12:03 AM   #16
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Thought I would add this to the grist so to speak. Below I link to a crappy video and if you jump to the 50 second point and watch roughly the next minute you'll see the logs around Prince Rupert, definitely a pain in the butt.

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Old 05-31-2019, 09:22 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
I have Interphase forward looking sonar. I think you have to consider what you're expectations are.

Feet in nautical mile: 6076.12

8knots = 48,608 feet per hour.
-> 810.13 feet per minute
-> 13.50 feet per second.

At 8kts a forward looking sonar at 40 feet will give you 2.96 seconds to react you before you hit it. Do you expect to look away from the display for more than 2.96 seconds?

It's helpful nosing into anchorages very, very slowly. That's about it.

Yes. Exactly. Also as the water shallows the range drops.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:09 PM   #18
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We had an Interphase for years. When it konked out we got an Echopilot. It isn't as versatile - the Interphase would look side to side or ahead to below - but it is still useful. But only when navigating in tricky spots -- you can pause and swing side to side with the thruster to look for boulders -- or when prepping for anchoring. Useless for logs or deadheads underway, so there's no need to interface it with your main display. It is basically a standalone aid for special situations. It's vulnerable, as the transducer sticks out a ways, and we had one sheared partway off by a log en route to Alaska. So we now have a triangular plate, point forward, ahead of the transducer. It acts as a deflector. No noticeable affect on the display.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:58 PM   #19
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Interphase became Garmin Santa Cruz and helped tremendously in Garmin's Sonar. While Garmin's sonar lacks the range of Echopilot and Far Sounder, we found it more than adequate for our normal use of sonar which was checking out depth and conditions near us at slow speed. With Far Sounder we can see up to 1/2 mile or Echopilot advertises good bottom structure at 20 times the depth so if in 50' of water, then 1000' distance. However, our typical use of sonar has been in less than 10' of water and within 100' distance.
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Old 06-07-2019, 09:41 PM   #20
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I've got the Simrad Forward Scan and find it barely useful, if at all. I've had issues with it from the start and Simrads tech support is fair at best.


I'll probably consider something else in the future.
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