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:
- 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.