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Z and I have sailed a fairly good distance on Aquarius, and we touched the reef one time... And that was when I didn't follow the guidance of my FLS. All the maps said 2.5M, and we were at high tide.. Well, it was less than 2M, and I thought the FLS was wrong because it was saying 1.5M in front of me.... I was wrong, FLS was right, but luckily I only go .5KTS in those situations and was just a light bump and we backed out... Now, I always listen to the FLS...
There are Captains out there that will say, "I circled the globe without GPS, Who needs that"! It's like some people want to prove they are better than others because they don't rely on such technology. "I just stick my wife up there, and she can spot everything". I don't use my FLS........ Great!
Last night I talked to another captain here in Thailand over a drink, and he was telling me the story about another captain he met that complained about other sailors that had to rely on their GPS... WHAT? It's a device that when used properly, can make you safer captain.
Here is my OPINION...... IF IT WILL MAKE YOU SAFER, AND IT's EASY TO USE, AND YOU WILL USE IT. YOU SHOULD PROBABLY THINK ABOUT GETTING IT. For that old sailor that thought GPS was useless, just think how safe he would be with a GPS, and the knowledge on how to use it properly... All that old sailing knowledge, along with all the new tech, now that's what I would call... SAFE! My friend said that he never again sailed with the old captain that didn't want to use a GPS.
I have been saved twice by my forward looking sonar (FLS) "Echo Pilot". I have several videos that show how I use the Echo Pilot when I am in shallow water, or potentially shallow water on our channel. The Echo Pilotl helps me understand the shape of the bottom at and anchorage, or when I am trying to work my way in a narrow shallow channel. Now, Yes, you can stick someone up on the bow.... That might be good idea in some cases.... BUT, in the Tuamotu Archipelago you might think twice about leaving you wife up on the bow for 5 hours as you make your way across one of the Atolls. And, is she going to be sharp the entire time? One of our friends hit the reef in the Tuamotu's, and they thought they were being safe. Someone on lookout on the bow, but just a few second not watching after 4 hours of not seeing a thing, and WHAM they hit the reef. Had to patch the hole, and head to Tahiti to get hauled out and repaired. A nice $10K and 3 months later, everything good. I was crossing one of the Atols, and my Alarm went off, I could see the reef in front of me on the FLS, and immediately applied full reverse, and we came within 10Ms of the reef.... Since I can only see what is directly in front of me, I don't try to turn, I just back out. Aquarius would have hit that day. I would like to add.....Sometimes the glare on the water makes it difficult to see the reef, but not for the FLS. And.....Sometimes the clouds make it difficult to see the reef systems. And, if the water is really clear... EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE IT's 2M deep, then what do you do? So, I guess you can stick someone up on the bow, and do you feel lucky. Because they might not see it... Fact is, you have the best chance of seeing the reef with someone up on the bow, and and FLS. But, the person on the bow will get fatigued over time, and this will reduce the effectiveness of the watch. $1500... That's my 2cents....
I still think if you're going to cross oceans and sail new places... Get an FLS that is easy to use, and you get good information... I have one, and have been very happy with it. Quite disappointed when we hit a log off Columbia and cracked my transducer. It was down for several months....
Downsides to FLS.. Sometimes an FLS will not work if there is heavy sediment in the water. I have had times when I was not able to get the depth for up to 5 minutes in some areas.. You can also get weird readings in fast currents with sediment in the water, or when looking into Prop Wash from a large vessel or tugboat. But, you will get used to reading the prop wash with experience.
Super Maramu 262