Ken Powers SV Aquarius <ken@...>
As Danny wrote in his comment above, the FLS is not the only thing used to provide information about the dangers in front of you. Good maps, eyes on the bow, are also helpful. But, good maps are not good everywhere, and eyes on the bow get tired. I have also noticed that many US sailors don't know about OpenCPN. Download OpenCPN for your computer, connect to a GPS device, and you have a back up chart plotter ..... FOR FREE. Get the maps from your sailing friends.... I also download all the Google overlays for areas and add to my map folders in OpenCPN before I take off. This gives me one more input to keep Aquarius from touching anything. Another thing about OpenCPN..... You can connect to a Vesper 8000 AIS over WIFI, and now if you're going into a tight place and other boats are in front of you, you can plot their path. I used this method in Fiji, and Malaysia entering marinas. I didn't know the exact path in so I just plotted the path of a few larger boats going in and out and just followed their path. This also helps in shipping lanes you can see which boat are moving and where they're going. All for free. If you have two computers loaded with OpenCPN, 2 Pads with charts, and 2 Smart Phones with Charts, spending money on the standard chart plotter might be a waste of money?
For the question. I set the alarm on the Echo Pilot for 5 meters. And though it's annoying, it works. If I am entering a marina, and it's 4 meters deep for a 100m the alarm will constantly beep. Someone might say, "turn it off", but it's my reminder to keep my scan going. The scan is just like flying a plane, you're constantly looking for an display/device/person that may not giving you correct information. And, another good thing about having a FLS. Most of us are carrying spares if something goes wrong. How important is your depth sounder? I would say VERY. But, many of the SM's are getting older, and everything is not always working 100%. If your depth sounder goes out, it's really nice to have a back up... And the FLS is also my backup depth sounder...
My 2cents, as someone else on this channel would say.
Aquarius is currently in Thailand getting her mani-pedi.