1. If you have an internal bearing compass, it helps to train yourself to ignore it while you’re finding and locking onto your target. Then take a quick glance at the compass image to see the bearing. However, if you already have an approximate bearing, as from the radar, the internal compass may help you to find the target by looking first at the compass image and using it to find the approximate area of the target.
2. I’ve found that when I’m looking through binoculars from a rolling or pitching boat, it helps to not have my body tightly wedged or anchored to the boat. It’s critically important to be well secured to the boat, but I like to stand relatively free so that I can sway with the boat and compensate for its movement with my body. This helps me to train the binoculars on the target. You may have different preferences; see what works best for you.
3. Never take a good pair of binoculars out on deck unless the strap is around your neck.
4. The first number in a compass designation (In this case “7”) is the number signifying magnification. Usually, magnification above 7 on a boat makes it difficult to focus. This number refers to the lens closest to the eye. (A higher magnification could, in theory, work better on a boat with binocs which have a good stabilization mechanism.) The second number, in this case, “50,” is the objective size, referring to the lens farthest from the eye. The larger this lens, the more light it admits. Most feel that “7X50” is ideal for a boat. See http://www.boatus.com/boattech/binoc.htm for additional info.
5. While some prefer stabilized binoculars, I prefer to not have this feature (even if I could afford it). I prefer the instant real time of traditional non-stabilized binocs. Also, the stabilization mechanism is something else to go wrong and which must be treated carefully—something often difficult to do on a heaving deck. But many love stabilization. See http://www.boatus.com/foundation/Findings/binoc.htm Also, I think that an internal bearing compass is important and I haven’t seen them on stabilized binoculars. I assume it would be very difficult to do both well on the same unit. Based upon my experience, if I could choose between stabilized binoculars and the Steiner Commander XP with compass, I’d choose the Steiner.
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Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale