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Exploring with ForwardScan

Avoid running aground with ForwardScan sonar on your B&G chartplotter. We take ForwardScan for a sail on a winter's day...

Hitting the bricks

Running aground on a falling tide is enough to scare any sailor. This unfortunate yacht came into Newtown River in the dark, and, straying out of the unlit channel, came to a sticky halt on the mud - where they remained for the next 6 hours. Join us as we go for a sail to see how B&G ForwardScan sonar can help sailors explore new anchorages - safe in the knowledge that they can see what lies ahead under the water - even in total darkness. 

Under way

The ForwardScan transducer plugs straight into the sonar port on the back of the Vulcan 7R, and we're good to go. As usual, the tide is against us, so we skirt the shallows as we head down the Solent. A split-screen view on the plotter screen gives us a composite view of the chart and the ForwardScan display - the best of both worlds. 

Into the shallows

As we head into the entrance of Newtown River, ForwardScan really comes into its own. The surprisingly deep entry channel shows up clearly, before we encounter the first of many mud banks straight ahead. ForwardScan shows a clearly defined profile of the seabed ahead - with the rapidly rising bank ahead turning red as it enters our preset warning range. We head sharply to port and the channel ahead deepens on the display. 

And out again

After a bite of lunch, tied to a vacant mooring buoy, we head back out to open water. We decide to sail upwind out of the narrow entrance. The steep-sided banks make it difficult to visualise how close it's safe to go, but with ForwardScan we can see a clear profile ahead of the bow with an easy to read range scale along the top of the screen. Pre-set warning zones (red and yellow dotted lines) give an instant indication of safe and dangerous depths. 

Peace of Mind

Once we're out of the narrows, the boat settles down and heads for home as dusk begins to gather. We approach the shipping lane, where a bulk carrier is proceeding slowly up the main channel, tethered to a trio of tugs. We seek the refuge of the shallows, well outside the main channel, using ForwardScan to make sure we don't spend the night on the mud. Once the ship is past, we head back into deeper water, the edge of the dredged channel showing clearly on the display. 

ForwardScan components

To use ForwardScan you'll need a compatible chartplotter. On Zeus3 or Vulcan, the forwardscan trandsucer plugs straight into the sonar port. On a Zeus²,  Zeus² Glass Helm and Zeus3 Glass Helm, or where the cable run is longer than 12 metres, you'll also need a SonarHub module. A long-sleeve transducer is also available for thicker or steeper hulls.

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