Forward-looking sonar isn’t a new concept, but a new way to harness it is now available via Garmin Front Vü. We found a boat rigged with Front Vü at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show, and had the chance to check it out first hand. If you find the idea of forward-looking sonar interesting, watch this short First Look Video we shot of the system.


As we mentioned, the idea of this system isn’t to give you a forward view at high speeds, but the ability to see forward under the water will be ideal for cruisers who visit new and unfamiliar ports. While moving ahead at relatively slow speeds (eight knots or less is considered optimal) it will allow you to see your way through channels and around obstructions, rather than having to feel your way forward. Which, as we all know, usually means praying you don’t run aground.

Front Vü is an extension of Garmin’s Panoptix system, which is designed more for anglers trying to find fish out in front of their boat. But it works in conjunction with a through-hull forward-looking transducer (the $1,499, 94-watt, 417 kHz Panoptix PS51-TH), delivering nearly instantaneous data alerting you of what’s in front of the boat. Range is a maximum of 300’ ahead, and eight to 10 times the current depth. It uses a relatively narrow 20-degree beam-width to focus only on what’s in front of your boat, and has a built-in AHRS motion-stabilization sensor to reduce the effect of your boat’s motion.

Naturally Front Vü is compatible with all Panoptix-capable MFDs (echoMAP CHIRPs and GPSMAPs), and it also displays depth under the boat (to 300’) and water temperature. It can be used in boats with up to 20-degrees of deadrise. The transducer comes with a fairing block, blanking plug, and mounting hardware, and communicates with the rest of a Garmin system via Ethernet.

For more information, visit Garmin.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.