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Using a Handheld Depthsounder - Sail Magazine

Using a Handheld Depthsounder

Have you ever spotted a lone sailboat anchored in what looks like a dream location—someplace not on the charts—and wondered how the heck they got there?
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A handheld depthsounder is useful when gunkholing

A handheld depthsounder is useful when gunkholing

NAVAGATION

Find Your Own Way

Have you ever spotted a lone sailboat anchored in what looks like a dream location—someplace not on the charts—and wondered how the heck they got there? When cruising off the beaten path we often drop anchor and launch the dinghy to see if we can find a route into an intriguing gunkhole we’ve spotted. When doing this we always take along a handheld depthsounder.

Here are our top tips for using a handheld sounder when conducting your own surveys:

1. Don’t forget to put the strap around your wrist! It’s easy to drop a sounder in the water while using it.

2. If you’re getting random readings or none at all, the battery is probably getting low.

3. Know the current state of the tide when taking soundings so you can correct your data if necessary.

4. We take soundings every 10 to 15 feet. Just because it’s deep enough in one spot doesn’t mean there isn’t a shallow spot nearby.

5. The deepest part of a channel may be off to one side. When we find a shallow spot in a channel, we always check either side for deeper water.

6. A handheld sounder will not register if it’s moving fast. We usually stop the dinghy when we take soundings. 

7. For tricky routes, we take along a handheld GPS to mark waypoints. Or you can take some fenders and set them out as buoys to help guide you in. 

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