Be content with a modest magnification because the erratic motion of a small boat causes images to shimmer and blur in the eyepieces. The rule-of-thumb glasses for small boats are 7 x 50s. Anything more powerful is a waste of money.
Incidentally, 7 x 50 means the image is enlarged seven times, and the front lenses are 50 mm in diameter. The 7 x 35 format is quite popular, too, but the larger the front lens, the better the binoculars will gather light at night. The 7 x 50 format makes for good night glasses that will help you spot buoys and moored boats mostly invisible to the naked eye after sundown.
You can buy military spin-offs such as night scopes and image-stabilizing binoculars that provide steadier pictures and magnifications of as much as 14 times, but they will cost you an arm, a leg, and maybe an ear or two. They’re heavy, full of vulnerable electronics, and they’ll need a constant supply of batteries. Unless you’re a professional spy, you really don’t need them.
And if you should be so lucky as to receive a pair of good binoculars from a nice person this festive season, guard them carefully. Good binoculars are expensive. Buy yourself a second, cheap pair for visitors who keep changing your settings and won’t put the damned strap around their necks.
Today’s ThoughtThe greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something. Hundreds of people can talk for one who thinks, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one.
-- Ruskin, Modern Painters
Tailpiece“Yes, I’ve been very unfortunate with both my husbands.”
“Well, the first one ran away.”
“And the second?”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)