Tag Archives: First Light

Marine Binoculars: Specifically Designed For Marine Safety

I was speaking with a Transport Canada Official the other day and much to my surprise binoculars are not part of their mandatory safety program. From my experience a good set of marine grade binoculars only makes sense. How many times have you scanned the horizon looking for your next distant buoy or see something unusual in the distant waters?

Marine binoculars are designed to be waterproof, durable and fog free. Marine binoculars are generally 7 X 50 and the Bushnell marine version are nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed. 7 X 50 are ideal for marine use because they give you the ideal magnification ‘7 – times closer’ and objective lens diameter ’50mm’ for viewing on the water. The 50mm diameter lenses are large enough to allow low light use (dawn or dusk navigation). During the day they are amazingly clear and bright.  These are the differentiating features that make these binoculars ideal for marine use.

If you are navigating on a course over a long distance, Bushnell,  Celestron and Steiner have compass models which allows the operator to take a bearing, fix or conduct a dead reckoning. A rangefinder component can also allow the operator to calculate distance if the height is known (from your GPS or raster chart) or calculate height if distance is known.

Some of the performance features one should be aware when purchasing marine binoculars are:

Features :

  • 3-Axis Digital Compass
  • prisms for bright, clear, crisp viewing
  • Fully Multi-coated optics for superior light transmission and brightness
  • 100% waterproof / fogproof
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged to keep out moisture
  • Highly resistant to saltwater corrosion
  • Non-slip, non-skid rubber armor cushions bumps and shock, prevents sliding and provides a firm grip when wet
  • Hermetically sealed
  • Fold-down eyecups

A couple of extra features I enjoy are the attached lens caps (never drop or lose them) and individual eyepiece focusing with diopter scale (self adjusting) for quick and accurate focusing. Remember binoculars are like eyeglasses and you should really come into the store and try them out. All three makes, Bushnell, Celestron and Steiner are excellent, reliable and trust-worthy brands.

So, I hope many of you will add a marine binocular to your safety equipment and use it for navigation and most of all to be aware of your surroundings.


Flexible Thermal Night Vision For Any Vessel

If you want to scare yourself, take your boat out on a cloudy, moonless night. With no horizon, no landmarks – navigating through dangerous waters like Georgian Bay can be stressful. Introducing the First Mate thermal night vision camera by FLIR, that comes with everything you need to boat with confidence, 24-hours a day, including:

• Switch between White Hot, Black Hot, and Marine Red Image Presentation Modes
• On-Screen Symbology
• An Optional 2× Lens Extender For Improved Long-Range Imaging Performance
Advanced configurations are also available for those needing added functionality and
• 2× E-Zoom
• Still Image Storage
• Video Capture and Storage
• Improved Environmental Survivability

First Mate and First Mate MS (Marine Scope) give you the power to see at night like never before, and for less money than you can imagine. Whether you’re on a yacht, recreational powerboat, fishing boat, sailboat, or anything in between, you’ll be able to see clearly in total darkness. Any chartplotter with video input can utilize this technology on screen. This way you can view your thermal night vision camera on your chartplotter!

First Mate gives you the power to see more – and to see farther:
• See clearly in total darkness – First Mate requires no light at all
• See logs, rocks, land, and other hazards that radar can miss better than ever
• Boat with confidence at night knowing that you can see harbor entrances, navigational aids and channels better in total darkness
• FLIR’s award-winning maritime thermal night vision technology in the palm of your hand – lightweight and portable

First Mate cameras can help you see people in the water better than  any other night vision technology. Finding someone in the water after dark with a searchlight is more a matter of luck than skill, but First Mate lets you search large areas quickly.

Bottom line: There is no better tool around to help you find a person in the water.

First Mate thermal night vision cameras create pictures by detecting and displaying tiny differences in heat, not light. Even the friction from a person’s finger, and the heat from a hand on a wall leaves enough thermal energy behind to show up clearly to the First Mate. Everything generates thermal energy, even ice! And even though thermal energy is invisible to the naked eye, First Mate thermal night vision cameras can detect it and turn it into a video image that is easy to understand, allowing you to see what your naked eyes can’t see. Using the same technology as FLIR’s best-in-class Navigator II, Voyager, and M-Series thermal night vision systems, First Mate gives you the information to help you see at night and stay safe. Just think of the possibilities away from the boat!  These small, lightweight portable cameras come in a great carrying case that can be used year round. I’m looking forward to using our new MS 324 early this season and will report my experiences in a future blog.


Toronto Boat Show Top Questions

While at the Toronto Boat Show this past week, I noticed a trend among the boating community that visited our Booth.  The trend was easy to pick up. The number one question was ‘Do I need a licence for my VHF?’ and secondly ‘I need to update my VHF radio and was wondering what the DSC meant?’

Well, the first answer to needing a license is NO, it is not a licence but rather a certificate that is needed. Industry Canada (the governing body for radio use in Canada) has delegated the ROC (M) to the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS) and courses are available in many areas. Further information can be found on the CPS website.  This is a much needed instructional interactive course that will teach you how to use your radio and how to react to emergency operation while under emotional stress.  This will allow you to operate your radio effectively and enable a quick response time from the emergency response teams (Canadian Coast Guard or other operators nearby).

DSC means Digital Selective Calling.  VHF-DSC maritime radios function as a normal VHF radio, but are also capable of sending and receiving digital messages on VHF channel 70. By lifting the red cover and then pressing the red distress button for at least 5 seconds, a digital distress call will be sent to the Canadian Coast Guard and vessels in the vicinity that are also equipped with VHF-DSC. If you connect your GPS to your VHF-DSC, this digital distress call will contain your up-to-date fix or your current longitude/latitude position. Certain models of VHF-DSC can also respond to position polls from other VHF-DSC radios

Updating an outdated VHF maritime radio means you need to buy a new radio equipped with the DSC function. All maritime VHF radios today are sold with this function. While at the boat show a Canadian Coast Guard official was discussing a chart with me when he over-heard a customer ask another Radioworld employee about the MMSI registration. The Official stated that it is absolutly necessary to register your new radio. You will need to obtain your MMSI number which stands for Maritime Mobile Service Identity and is used for radios with the digital selective calling feature. You can obtain an MMSI number free-of-charge from any Industry Canada office. The application forms are also available from Industry Canada (see above link).