It’s a poor pun. I’m sitting here in Hampton with Strider completely ready to go, my love arriving in two days to begin our trip south and, no depth sounder. There are a lot of equipment items I would venture south of here without but a depth sounder is not one of them. I don’t think I want to introduce her to cruising by having her stand at the bow casting a lead line all day. The very pleasant power run down from Gloucester Point was marred by the depth sounder intermittently reading “—“, as it does in very deep water. It was just a few drop outs at first but they got longer and more frequent. The last few miles showed me continually in water deeper than the 200-300 foot range limit. I could believe that in Maine but not Chesapeake Bay. I opened up the back panel in the cabin and checked the connections. That dropped the ratio of operative to inoperative to zero. This morning, it was working again…until I started the engine. Maybe that’s the problem. No, only “—“ even with the engine off. I needed fuel and water so I chose the marina with a marine electronics shop right on the dock. I had maybe 30 seconds of depth readings on the short run to the fuel dock. The electronics guy wanted 100 bucks in his hand before setting foot on the boat and that would be next week, maybe. It was the kind of “maybe” that clearly means “never”. One look at me and he knew I wasn’t going to be spending five figures for a new SeaTalk outfit. He didn’t even want to talk about selling me a new sounder system. That isn’t where the money is. So, I ran back to Hampton Public Piers and took a slip a day earlier than planned to power the computer for some extensive Internet research and better beer.., I mean, “shore” access. What did we ever do without Google? It only took a few minutes to turn up new transducer. Imarine will have it here tomorrow. BTW, I had to interrupt my web order with a phone call to them and I don’t think I have ever encountered friendlier and better phone service. She picked up my half completed order on her computer and finished it for me so the unit could go out today. The big question, of course, is whether the problem is in the transducer or the display. The one bit of information I did extract from the electronics guy is that, nine times out of ten, intermittent behavior is a bad transducer. The fellow at Airmar, supplier to Imarine, who I spoke to while tracking down the new unit told me just the opposite. Who knows? The fellow at Airmar did say that a transducer as old as mine appears to be ought to be replaced anyway. The cost of the new unit will only be a few bucks more than the electronics guy’s one hour minimum so I figured I might as well plug in the new one and see what happens. There’s always Ebay if the Airmar guy turns out to be right. Sitting and fretting, I realized that the only good location for the new transducer is where the old one is so I might as well start tearing it out. The transducer is an in-hull mount so “tearing” isn’t the correct word because I realized that I should preserve the RCA plug and test it over the side to see if the problem was actually the attachment of the transducer to the hull. This meant opening up the main wiring harness, cutting dozens of wire ties in awkward places, and coaxing the cable through the bilge with a cord attached to pull the new cable back into place. Oh yes, it also meant humping the 140 feet of chain I carry in the bilge for ballast and storm anchoring into canvas tote bags and then up on deck. I then had to disassemble the chain locker cribbing. This is the bilge we are talking about, I’m glad I’m hooked up to shore power with lots of very hot water for the shower. Once the cable was free, I set about removing the old transducer with a hammer and chisel. I hammered and got a corner of the chisel under the transducer and levered it off the hull. Well, I’ll be a son of something. It wasn’t even an in-hull transducer! It was just a regular through hull unit scabbed to the hull with what looks like 5200. I can’t believe it worked at all. Amazing that sound could make it through the over 1/16 th inch thick pad of compound that would make a good vibration isolator. The face of the transducer wasn’t even completely covered, about a quarter of it was bare plastic. How I could ever get up to 300 foot readings with this rig is beyond me. I hung the old transducer over the side half submerged and plugged it in. The depth display has been rock steady for over an hour now so I’m pretty confident that the new transducer, properly installed, will work just fine. A couple of messy days working at arm’s length in the bilge and we should be good to go.