November 25, 2012

Be modest with binoculars

IF YOU ARE a very nice person, and if you are thinking of buying a new pair of binoculars for someone with a boat, don’t waste your money on the highest-power magnification you can find.

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 Thought
The 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

“Yes, I’ve been very unfortunate with both my husbands.”
“Oh? Why?”
“Well, the first one ran away.”
“And the second?”
“He didn’t.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Jack said...

John, I was wondering if your wife reads this blog, as this post appears to a thinly veiled Christmas wish ! Ha!

John Vigor said...

Oh, Jack, how could you ascribe to me such an impure thought? Such a crafty scheme has never crossed my mind. Well, hardly ever. As a matter of fact, my sweet wife gave me a lovely pair of Steiner 7x50s that she got with a special offer of a Land's End squall jacket more than 20 years ago. In my frugal way, I still have those fine binoculars. I still have the jacket, too. But if she does read this column from time to time (and I can never tell when) I might mention that my boat wish-list starts with an Autohelm, a 12-volt deep-discharge battery, and a solar panel. I don't expect all three, of course. But any one of them would be welcome.

John V.

Jack said...

I feel used.
ps I'm 174779th at present in the VG. I too can't figure how if I tweak my course regularly I lose places, leave the good ship "Rhyddid" to find it's way to the Southern oceans, I find myself gaining places beyond my comprehension.

John Vigor said...

Jack, nothing wrong with feeling used. At least you feel something. Lots of people have no feelings at all and a lot of them get elected to Congress. As for the Virtual Vendee Globe race, the rankings are total rubbish at this stage. They're the best guess of a computer that has never sailed a real race in its life. The real rankings will come when boats start to file past Cape Horn.

John V.

Toby Crane said...

I personally have been seeing that bird watching binoculars are more commonly used in the west than anywhere else. Thanks for sharing this information.