When we bought Sundowner there was an ST50 “Fathometer”. Fathoms. Man, I tell you, I was transported directly into a Horatio Hornblower sort of mental state when I read the word. Everything except some paper charts I’ve seen have always been feet or meters for depth. (FYI: A fathom is six feet.) But never mind all that. The panel had a switch which turned on this “fathometer”. The only problem was that it didn’t display anything.
The screen had died or faded out with age. Dani insisted that she could just make out the depth readings through some sort of voodoo process I never understood or trusted. “No really, it said 12 ft for a second, I saw it!” So a long time ago in a city far away we purchased a ST60+ depth sounder head to hook to the “fathometer” transducer. You see there is a head that displays the measurement and a transducer that actually does the measuring.
Of course this didn’t work. I guess I was hoping for blind luck that the old transducer would work with the new head, but no. Just as I didn’t trust Dani to read the old ST50, I don’t think she trusted me that the connection between new and old wouldn’t work. She insisted that I wiggle the wires and “switch them around”. But even her voodoo couldn’t work it out.
And so anyway, this ST60+ head sat in a box that was on the boat, then home, then back on the boat; its been with us for over a year just doing nothing. I am ashamed….
A couple of weeks ago I bought a new transducer to install. Of course on the first try we ordered the wrong one. Its an Airmar p79 transducer that apparently goes to like 02938403840239840928 models of heads but you have to make sure to get the right connection. The second try worked out. And OVER A YEAR AFTER WE SAID WE WOULD, I started “really” fixing the whole “fathometer” thing-a-ma-doo-dad.
In theory you just plant this thing on the hull pointing straight down and it works. The mysteriously technical install guide said the angle of the hull (deadrise angle) at the point of install had to be less than 22 degrees. I just sort of guessed at our angle and set the thing for 22 degrees (praying it wasn’t greater than that, praying hard).
You have to first sand the hull and seal the bottom of the unit to the hull.
I let the caulk set overnight. The next day we returned and I dutifully filled the bottom with 74ml of antifreeze called for in the manual. I suspect water would work but perhaps they had problems with some owners having it freeze?
And the big moment…. We turned it on and nervously waited 3 seconds before a helpful beep and BINGO, there are 9.2 feet of water under this baby.
The ST60+ head was a little bigger than the old ST50 so I had to do some cutting but nothing too bad involved in retrofitting it into the spot where the old one was.
Now in all seriousness… We did test the transducer before actually gluing the thing into the boat. To do it I used a plastic bag full of water around the transducer as I pushed it against the hull to make sure it would work. I also checked it by just pointing the transducer down directly in the water outside the boat.
And from henceforth, the “fathometer” became the depth sounder. And the long Procrastination was over.
Riding high. 9.2-9.5 feet high to be exact, I completed yet another job that I started yesterday but didn’t finish. Nav Light LED retrofit.
Our front nav lights were old aqua signals that had 25 watt automotive bulbs. Turning those bad boys on was worth about 4 amps of power per hour. Whats worse, it didn’t include the stern light which hadn’t worked since we bought Sundowner.
I took the casings apart. Let me say that again, I took the casings apart. Go ahead and litter that sentence with as much profanity as you can muster. That is about how that job went. But in the end I got them opened up and glued the Bebi LED Lights in place.
I also pulled down the stern light and did the same. It is some other brand that wasn’t nearly as terrible to pull apart. God bless its little non-functional and easy to rip apart innards.
Anyway, today the lights were all glued up and I tested them out in the boat. They lit up beautifully.
Out on the bowsprit, working in constant mortal fear of dropping my crimpers in the water, I slowly connected up the lights with double crimp connectors that were sealed with adhesive heat shrink.
Afterwards we tackled the stern light (which has never worked.)
Putting my faith in heat shrink.
Finally! The first time we’ve ever seen a working stern light on Sundowner.
Check these bad boys out. In daylight they’re bright!
Dani is pleased that with all three nav lights on we’re only pulling under half an amp an hour. (For those keeping count at home, our new nav lights use 8.3% as much power as the old ones!)
She was not pleased to lose her center pawn with no recourse 2 moves later.
Hope you all had a great weekend too.