When navigating unchartered waters or entering shallow harbours, it is important to be able to see dangers ahead of your vessel before it is too late. The greatest principle of any voyage is planning your passage and looking ahead is imperative to ensuring your safety when out on the water. However, while a good survey and a precise position has been the key to keeping boats safe and sound for centuries, there are times when this isn’t an option. Some places are still poorly charted and there are moving shoals which defy the efforts of hydrographers and harbour buoyage.
Forward Looking Sonars (FLS) are designed for navigation in cases such as this and offer insurance for your vessel against unseen obstacles, making difficult anchorages less stressful. Unlike simple digital sounders which may show a depth that is 10 to 15 seconds out of date, which could easily be hundreds of meters behind you when moving at speed, Daniamant’s FLS updates every 0.2 seconds to give real time information. If you are moving, this gives you a far more accurate representation of what is beneath your boat as an obstruction will appear almost immediately on the screen, allowing you to react quickly to avoid collision.
The Danish marine safety equipment manufacturer’s EchoPilot FLS 2D (priced from €1,219.00) is a single display product which can be installed via a swivel bracket or directly into your dashboard. The seven-inch full colour TFT LCD display enables you to gain much more information about the nature of the seabed, whilst also being more visually pleasing. Stronger echoes produce colours at the red end of the spectrum, indicating a hard seabed such as rock which you want to avoid, whereas weaker echoes received from softer materials such as sand or mud are shown as colours at the yellow end of the spectrum. The different fields or types of information are shown in contrasting colours, enabling the navigator to digest information much faster.
The culmination of more than 18 years of research and manufacturing of FLS, the EchoPilot FLS 2D comes in three variations: the FLS 2D Standard, the FLS 2D Professional and the FLS 2D Repeater. The FLS 2D Standard come with EchoPilot’s standard transducer which fits through a glass filled Polypropylene thru-hull with one inch of useable thread. Most bottomed GRP hulls can take the standard transducer. However, if you have a thick hull or a significant degree of dead rise requiring wedges or chocks to keep the transducer vertical, the FLS 2D Professional is the choice to make. The professional transducer has a bronze through hull housing with three inches of usable thread and requires a 2.37-inch diameter mounting hole. The FLS 2D repeater gives you the option for multiple FLS 2D Displays if more than one display is required.
Alternatively, the EchoPilot FLS Platinum Engine (priced from €1,575.00) is a “Black Box” unit with NMEA 0183 Version 2.0 which enables any chartplotter, multifunction display or PC with a video input to become a fully functional 2D colour FLS. A third-party GPS can also be installed on the EchoPilot FLS Platinum Engine to achieve GPS co-ordinates on your display.
Easy installation involves a single, retractable transducer and a short cable leading to a transmitter box. A simple data cable, which may be extended from the standard 10m up to 100m, takes the display signal to a ‘Video Box’ with a remote keypad. Owners have the option of having the output displayed at the helm only, or additional EchoPilot Video Interface Boxes can be ‘daisy chained’ to run two displays at different locations, each with their own keypad. The keypad operates the sonar part of the display without the need to use the plotter or radar controls. Daniamant provide Composite Video and S-Video output, along with all cables needed to attach to most video displays.
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