Hello All, 

When we purchased our 1967 42 years and years ago, it came with pretty much nothing.  No mattresses, no manuals, and no electronics - no radio, no depth gauge, or anything else.  There is a transducer under the starboard engine, but the cable is gone, and I have no idea what frequency it might be - So I'll assume I'll just replace that through hull transducer with another.. So... fast forward to this year...

We boat on the Mississippi River, and while being in the channel is fun, we do like to anchor out.  I don't need a chart plotter as we are just going north or south on the river, but a depth gauge would come in handy as we are now FINALLY able to use the boat for more than a floating cottage.  I've started to look at depth gauges, but I really have no idea what to stick in our 50+ year old boat. 

So, I don't need anything too fancy... at a minimum, depth.  Anything more is probably overkill for our boating environment.  Maybe water temp would be cool, but again, not necessary.  Thoughts on what to purchase, and why you'd recommend?

Thanks in advance!


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Not a bad little unit if you don't need all the bells and whistles of NMEA 0183/2000: https://fariabeede.com/2-pages/prod_display.php?calledGauge=2_depth...

If you want a little more then just the numbers, check out the Garmin Striker. You can upgrade to a through hull transducer that will give you water temp and show you a nice view of what's under the boat. Comes in a 4", 5",  7" or 9" display with several different models. My sons put a 7SV in my cockpit with a though hull transducer for fishing. Check the prices at thegpsstore.com.

The original dealer equipped my boat with these.  After I bought it last year I asked if they ran across them, please hold onto them for me.  A couple months ago they sent a box of stuff that the dealer had for my boat, all the hookups are still in place, they still work!  Like the boat, they spent decades in storage.

I just pulled out my old sandpiper that the dealer installed in 1972. It still worked once it warmed up but even after cleaning the transducer would bounce off the low water warning while underway. I’m always amazed at the quality of instrumentation of this era. 

Hey Chris,

Your diligence in staying on this project is amazing.  Since we escorted you in IA when you took possession we've moved three times, sold the 35, bought the 47 and brought it up from FL and restored the 19' SS.  I'll just say the 47 can be overwhelming at times and will likely never be done in my lifetime of ownership unless I win the lottery.

For your depth sounder.  I would say there are a few options.

  1. Inside the hull transducer no water temp.
  2. Through hull if you want water temp.
  3. Simple digital with either
  4. Small GPS/Plotter in case you venture at night or get stuck in fog.

We have Garmin plotter with the inside transducer. It shows plenty sonar detail, fish and graphs for our use on the great lakes.  No water temp but who cares on Lake MI.  Its never warm.  With a through hull we could get that plus side scan .....  as long as I have 5' under the bottom who cares.  


The sandpiper looks like the old Data Marine which I believe was made by Texas instruments. When I bought my 1967 42-Com. 22-yrs ago it had an old flasher DF. I found the digital sandpiper at a used marine parts store for $10. it has worked perfect including alarm for 21-yrs. The old transducer plug fit perfectly . For other functions A girl friend got me a 8" Garmin Gps multifunction , at next haul out I will put a compatable transducer so I have water temp, depth etc. The internal ant. is perfect for the gps.   Happy Thanksgiving.    Bob

Chris,  I have a Lowrance because I have had good luck with them and I have found good pricing through a PA online supplier.   I think you would be well served by a modern unit which will interface with your VHF to transmit your identity and position.  At one point I had both a through hull and a shoot through the hull puck.  I found no difference so at next haul for painting one more hole in the bottom was sealed. 



Of all the units I deal with, if you don't need a plotter or bottom machine and just a good really reliable basic, here's my recommendation. It does use a thru hull, and the main reason I like it, is unlike the neato whizbang color stuff out there? This one seems to stay the same without being outdated before you pull it off the shelf. Plus, I've found Raymarine's customer support to be outstanding. Hope this helps! 


Chris - when we first got our 35, the electronics were so outdated I couldn’t even use what was onboard to rely on depth to get home. For about $100, I got a Humminbird unit. It’s just depth, but it’s small, can be set with alarms, and the best part was the transducer could be mounted inside the hull. You just glue it down, and it was quite accurate and had no issues shooting through our thick hulls.


My second year with a Commander, loving the simple honesty of it.  Trying to keep it all original and old-school, this is my water temp indicator:

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I am with a few others on here and would go with a modest combo chart plotter unit. You will get speed, depth, water temp., the bread crumb route(good for night navigation). I will even tell you how many miles have passed under your hull. I haven't priced one lately but I think $500 would do it.  

Chris, I understand you are looking for a simple solution but you you might want to consider a transducer which connects to a NMEA 2000 network. It makes the installation a bit more "future proof". Even if you don't see any real need right now consider the saying that "anything that can be connected will be connected sooner or later". You are an IT-guy so you will undertand! :-)

I have a through-hull-transducer mounted below the port engine on my 31' Commander. A few years back I replaced a Raytheon unit with a Maretron tri-play unit (speed, depth, sea water temperature) that is sporting a  NMEA connection. Used the same hole in the hull as the old transducer. 

Both the old and new item works fine for the main purpose. I found that water temperature is not very accurate, even if the new one is less erratic than the old one. They tend to pick up heat from the engine room. Since the engines cool down very slowly the misreading remains for many hours. 

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