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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You may not need all the bells and whistles, but consider the resale prospects if your boat has them vs. just the basics, or nothing. I have a Humminbird fishfinder / depth / temp indicator and it's nice having all that info. Warm enough to go swimming? Check the display. Safe to anchor here? Look at the bottom display.  I also have a standalone Faria depth indicator as a redundant display with an alarm option.


I agree with Jim, having something where you can view the bottom is helpful when it comes to anchoring. I've just started to learn how to read the bottom to know where to anchor, but it definitely helps picking a good spot. On my 741xs I can tell the difference between a weedy bottom, rocks, sand. 

Don't put the transducer too close to the engines as I find mine will also show a few degrees high once the engines are up to temp. 

I would not recommend the Hawkeye depth sounders, I put on in my little boat. The info says 2.5' as a minimum depth, what I didn't know is it doesn't read at all less than 2.5' which was 90% of where I went in that boat. 


While I can respect owners who want to keep these boats original, and the argument can be made that simple is better, there is something to be said for the bells and whistles. 

My sons use Wanderer and both possess capable seamanship skills, but are also more tech savvy then I am. This year they "gifted" me with an impressive suite of state of the art electronics because everything on the boat was from 1985. They installed a new color chart plotter, color radar, and a radio with DSC and AIS, on my bridge, a blue tooth stereo in the salon with multiple pairs of speakers, as well as the aforementioned Garmin Striker in the cockpit. The old Chart plotter, which still works, was installed at the lower helm station. Two new transducers were installed at Sunset Bay Marina. Over the top is an understatement. 

On a run to Falmouth this summer I came though Buzzards Bay with visibility from horizon to horizon and started to follow a 110 ft ferry through Woods Hole Passage, and watched it disappear. Cape Cod is notorious for it's sudden fog. It was reassuring to be able to glance down at the GPS and see where I was in the narrow channel, then at the radar screen and "see" the bouys, the ferry I was following, and the large vessel coming in the opposite direction which AIS identified as a 90 ft commercial fishing boat, not to mention exactly what was under the boat. An hour later the fog had cleared. 

Modern electronics are very nice toys, I mean tools, to have at your your disposal, but they are not infallible. Despite all these gadgets, I still keep a paper chart within arms reach. 

I believe Chris’ original ask was for a basic no-frills depth finder; which the Faria and HawkEye units are. I tend to agree that if you plan to putt around a familiar river in good conditions, with a place to park it if those conditions change, there little need for full blown electronics setup.

I left the river this season and will be in the blue next season, so I will be refitting Viaggio with some new kit in the electronics department, which will include a NMEA 2000 backbone and fully graphical engine and systems interfaces. 

The moral of the story is get what you need, not what you can afford :)

Having just spent three weeks on a boat from Baltimore to south Florida, via ocean, not ICW, running radar with AIS overlay, I'm a big believer in both systems when 1) running in big water where there are big boats and ships and 2) running at night, even in clear weather with good nighttime visibility. We found uncharted markers that were visible only on radar and only when zoomed in close. Needless to say, this was an 'eye-opening' experience. 


I have the same boat as you do and had the same situation with a depth gauge. What I use is the Navionics App on my phone and IPAD for a subscription price of $9.99 a year. It is very accurate to a tea. You can’t beat the price. 

You might get away with trusting chart depths in lake navigation, but it would never work around coastal areas subject to constantly shifting shoals.

Actually now that I think about, when I was a kid boating in Lake Erie around Presque Isle PA, shifting shoals were a problem there too.

Agreed, those inside corners of the river get shallow quick and don't always agree with the charts.  The CT river is notorious for shifting shoals.  I had a muddy wake a couple times in what the charts proclaimed as 10 foot depths...

Jim Frens said:

You might get away with trusting chart depths in lake navigation, but it would never work around coastal areas subject to constantly shifting shoals.

Actually now that I think about, when I was a kid boating in Lake Erie around Presque Isle PA, shifting shoals were a problem there too.

I love following the track of previous safe paths and widening that path by following a boat with greater draft. Each year is a restart since "ol man ribber, just keeps rolling along."  The channel in front of our harbor has narrowed significantly in the last few years due to flooding but fortunately access hasn't changed much. With only a depth sounder history has no virtue.  "He who doesn't learn from history is doomed to repeat it."


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