Features November 2010 Issue

Marine Electronics: Practical Sailor Tests Portable Depth Sounders

Norcross and Speedtech handheld sounders face off in field tests.

Ordinarily Practical Sailor is loathe to apply a $100 battery-operated solution to a problem easily solved with a chunk of lead and some 3/8-inch line. However, portable depth sounders take the leadline to the next level. Resembling small flashlights, these handheld sounders are designed to be portable, easy to use, and reliable. They are good tools for probing creeks and narrow passes in a dinghy, and also can serve as backups to a primary sounder. This series of tests took a look at the Hawkeye 22PX from Norcross Marine and the Speedtech Depthmate SM-5A. On-the-water testing comprised a series of six tests in specific locations. Each unit was tested in murky shallow waters with a soft mud bottom; moderately clear waters with grass bottom; and clear waters with sand bottom. Testers also evaluated whether the sounders could read through hull materials, their durability and waterproofness, and whether their digital displays could be read in bright sunlight and at night.

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