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Down in the bilge, in the forward guest cabin on our boat, is a hole! Normally, holes in boats aren’t a good thing, but this is one of those rare exceptions. In this hole is the Airmar Transducer that is part of our navigation equipment system.
Proper Care of the Transducer
One day, we noticed that our True Wind Speed and Apparent Wind Speed were equal, even when we are underway. That shouldn’t be happening. We did some investigating and learned that our new boat has something called a transducer in it.
The transducer has a paddlewheel and a sensor on it. The paddlewheel tells us our speed through the water, which is used in all sorts of calculations by our navigation equipment. The sensor tells us depth underneath our keels and water temperature.
For the AWS and TWS to be reading equal, it meant that our boat speed was not reading correctly. We needed to pull the transducer and clean the paddlewheel to get it up and running again.
In an ideal world, every time Starry Horizons was stationary we would remember to pull the transducer and replace it with the blanking plug. But, that doesn’t always happen. Instead, we find that our paddlewheel is junked up, so we have to pull the plug and clean it.
Pulling the plug is not for the faint of heart! Remember, we’re really just opening up that hole in our boat, which is a bit intense.
Our transducer has a self-closing valve that prevents too much water from coming in, so we only get an inch or two in the small compartment. When you pull the transducer, you want to have that blanking plug very handy to pop right in.
Supplies to Clean the Airmar Transducer
Our transducer is an Airmar Smart Tri Multisensor DST800.
- The Absorber (or other chamois)
- TruPlug (just in case)
- Blanking Plug – should come with your transducer
- Pocket knife
- Cleaning supplies
Steps to Pull and Clean Your Transducer
- Plug any holes in your bilge walls to prevent water from flowing between compartments. I use The Absorbers for plugging the holes.
- Lubricate the blanking plug O-rings with vaseline.
- Unscrew the cap nut of the transducer. It takes A LOT more unscrewing than I expect every time, even though the cap screw feels loose. Try wiggling the transducer.
- When it pops out, quickly place the blanking plug in the thruhull.
- Inspect the transducer. It often has shellfish growing in the paddlewheel. Test the paddlewheel to make sure it is freely turning.
- Lubricate the O-rings on the transducer.
- Remove the blanking plug, and pop the transducer back in. Make sure the transducer is facing in the right direction (there’s an arrow).
- Clean up your mess!