Transducer location for a Classic 26S and Recommended GPS Chart Plotter

MYCBC – Why Join Us Forums Boat Maintenance and Mods Transducer location for a Classic 26S and Recommended GPS Chart Plotter

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    Greg Buckmaster


      I have a Mac 26S and am currently trying to get it up and going and don’t really know what would work best for it.

      I am curious if anyone has some good recommendations on transducers and plotters for the Mac 26S.
      What I would like is an affordable GPS / with Plotter capability that is easy to read and use, and a transducer that doesn’t necessarily need to be one that comes with the GPS.

      1) Where is the best place to locate a transducer on Mac 26S?

      2) I’m not sure about what would be recommended for Navigation electronics on the boat. I believe I would like Navionics because it can do so much, but I have been unable to figure out if I can get Navionics maps directly onto something affordable like a Garmin 7CV which would give chart plotting. (I suspect this isn’t possible)

      I currently have a Table that I can use Navionics on, one disadvantage is having room for both a tablet and a GPS.

      Any recommendations on a GPS with a chart plotter? Ideally something like the Garmin 7CV which seem very easy to use.
      Should I be looking at a GPS that would use BlueChart software? I don’t really know much about BlueChart. I think blue chart is also a one time purchase, which is a positive, but I don’t think you get near the info that you would if you were using Navionics.

      Or should I just forget a GPS and only use Navionics on a tablet and get a separate transducer?


      Ron Gillies

        We sold our 26S in 2015, so my memory is getting a little fuzzy. We had a Garmin chart plotter which used Garmin charts. Garmin has since bought Navionics, so they now have options for that. Our current Garmin 721 on our Catalina uses Blue Charts, which I’m quite happy with, but I also use Navionics on my iPad and like some of the features it has. I’m not familiar with the 7vc but looked it up on the Garmin website. It is discontinued, so limited to stock that is out there. It appears to be a fish finder only, no capability to load charts. It says that you can connect to Active Captain through wifi to a phone, so that might give you limited chart plotting access, not sure. Although more money, my suggestion would be a Garmin GPSMAP 723/743/723xsv/743xsv. Those are today’s version of what we currently have. If you use the compare function on the Garmin website (link below) it allows you to line them up side by side and compare the features. It looks like the 723 series use Garmin Blue Charts and the 743 series use Navionics. As for a transducer I used an Airmar P79 (link below) in the 26S and also in my current Catalina. It avoids drilling holes in the boat, it mounts inside the full. I have found the readings to be totally accurate, at the dock I have a weighted line that I can drop to measure depth and it agrees with the transducer. In the middle of Georgia Straight I can look at the depth on my chart plotter and then at the chart to see what the depth should be and they are very close. Won’t be exact due to current tide height. Ideally the transducer would be mounted forward, which is where I have it in the Catalina. I can’t remember for sure but I think in the 26S I had to mount it in the stern lazerette because anywhere forward you have the ballast tank below the inner hull and it won’t work there. Not ideal, but depth usually changes fairly gradually, so there aren’t often surprises. I’ve also seen people mount a transom mount transducer (link below) on Mac’s but wouldn’t be my preference. To much danger of it being knocked when launching and retrieving.

        Greg Buckmaster

          Hi Ron,

          Thanks for the information and links, it was all really helpful.

          I love the idea of the in hull transducer, I’m not sure if it can work as a standalone transducer with an independent gauge, or if it has to connect to a Garmin chart plotter. When I get a chance I’ll need to do some more research.

          I’m still undecided if I can get away with just Navionics on a tablet, and a separate standalone depth sounder.
          I do currently have a handheld Garmin 78s GPS which I like to have on board as a basic backup.

          Thanks again, I really appreciate the great input.

          Ron Gillies

            Certainly you can get by with Navionics on an iPad, we did it for the first year that we owned the Catalina. The issues are that they are difficult to see the screen in the sun and they overheat in the sun. You also need a way in the cockpit to keep it charged. In addition to being built for the marine environment, a chart plotter connected to a VHF radio gives you the emergency DSC function. Personally, I wouldn’t be without my chart plotter but it depends where and how much you boat. The ocean is a different story than a lake.

            Before we added the chart plotter, depth was by guess. We would go by what the chart said and once we got into shallow water we would use the line with the weight on it. I’ve heard that there are transducers out there that will work without a chart plotter, perhaps somehow send the information to a tablet but I’ve never researched it.

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