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Old 22-01-2011, 00:29   #16
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Buy the best quality binoculars you can afford - eg. top of the range Steiners or Fujinons which should last a lifetime whereas cheaper ones will probably not last more than a few years. It can be hard to distinguish optical quality when comparing models at a dealers on a bright day, but the real test should be at sea at night when differences can be quite startling.

Be aware that integral compasses are calibrated for a particular hemisphere - they will not work properly in the other hemisphere. I was quoted $400 to replace a Fujinon compass unit because of this problem.

Some sort of bearing compass is essential on any boat. The best integral binocular compasses are good but many are hard to distinguish, may have backlighting problems, tend to be "sticky" or are otherwise inaccurate.

(As mentioned in a previous post the late lamented Autohelm Fluxgate compass is really excellent - accurate, simple to use and more or less bulletproof. If you can find one.)
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Old 22-01-2011, 01:02   #17
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i carry 2 pairs,one for my self that NO ONE ELSE TOUCHES!!!!

and 1 for the crew that way you wont have to adjust them when you need them in a hurry at night or have to clean the greasy finger prints left by the last person to fiddle with them.

7x50 is powerful enough,compass useful but some times hard to read.
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Old 22-01-2011, 02:58   #18
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I rather have binoculars with the compass for taking bearings, but I was surprised to find that my first pair was far better than my second despite their similarity. Just as individuals are left or right handed, we tend to be either right or left eye dominant. I am right eye dominant and I much prefer binoculars that have the compass in the right ocular. It's easy to determine your eye dominance with a simple activity. With both eyes open, view an object about twenty feet or more distant and extend your arm and point at the object. Remaining in that position, view the object with just one eye open and then the other eye. Your finger will only be pointing at the object when viewed with your dominant eye. Very few people will find that the object's position is relatively the same with both eyes. Some manufacturers place the compass in the left ocular and some in the right. It might serve you will to choose a pair that matches you physically.
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Old 22-01-2011, 09:34   #19
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More people now make the mistake of using electronic charts,it is a nice convenience, I use it my self, but I know of many plces in north america where we get very good charts they can be wrong double checking with acompas is done routinely on our boat and it is done with binoculars with comps built in. afreigther at nite is spotted and the bearing recorded 5min later we spot again just having only one item incocpitt is good get the binns with compass Ole
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Old 22-01-2011, 09:59   #20
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In a lot of years of doing most every type of cruising we have used our binocs hundreds and hundreds of times and find the built in compass invaluable. The next time you are out sailing, try and take a few different bearings from your fixed compass, at the same time. After you have had some fun, the answer to your question will be obvious. You could buy a hand bearing compass, which we also have and use often, but will find that you will be switching back and forth between the binoculars. Many times when you need a quick fix, to enter a tricky anchorage, avoid collision, you will find the few extra dollars well spent. If you just plan to cruise up and down the ICW and never stray from protected waters or do much serious cruising, they probably would not be all that important to you. BTW, we use a pair of Steiners that was handed down to us and used originally during the Korean Conflict. Chuck
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:12   #21
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What are peoples' experience with image stabilizing binoculars? I have a "guest quality" pair of binoculars with compass and a hand-bearing compass. I find it easier to get a bearing with the HBC if there's any kind of sea running. I'm planning to upgrade the binoculars. I tested a pair of image stabilized binoculars at the Newport Boat Show last Fall and was impressed -- but I was in a controlled setting and supposed to be impressed. Do they work well in the real world and, if so, does it make it easier to get a bearing in less stable conditions?
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:29   #22
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What I don't like about IS binos is their fragility. When we prep for sailing, whenever we put the winch handles in their holders we put the binoculars in an open holder on the binnacle. The binos are there day and night, shine or rain, whether or not I'm taking spray, et cetera. They've gotten wet hundreds of times without any negative consequences. When I'm anchored out, they usually stay on the binnacle all night.

IS binos won't stand up to that sort of use. Which means you'll keep them below, in a protective box, with the battery switched off. Which means that when you suddenly need them, they won't be there. Whales breaching? Sorry, the binos are down below. Need to quickly determine the daymarks that other boat is showing? Sorry, the binos are down below. Are those people sailing naked? Sorry.....
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:31   #23
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Years ago I went through a period when i went through no less than three pairs of binoculars (they all sure looked heavy duty - rubber armored etc) over four years of considerable use at sea (fogged up, optics misaligned, etc). So, finding that too expensive, I sprang for the top end pair of Fujinons with the compass. That was 27 years ago and they are still in use whenever I go to sea and perform perfectly having had no maintenance except to sew the rubber flap lens cover back to its tab with sail thread. I've never found the compass to be a distraction, but I haven't used it all that much either. When I take a bearing, i'm more apt to use a hockey puck or ship's steering compass just as personal preference.

Off topic but somewhat related in hopes of its usefulness, a few years ago I also sprang for the pricy Fujinon stabilized binoculars under the principal that if my old Fijinons were so good, the new iteration would be fantastic, especially with my aging eyes. On their third use, they suffered a minor but fatal thump of the kind that the old ones had endured hundreds of times. Sent them in for repair and many $ later they came back supposedly as good as new. Evidently they were, because they broke again instantly even without any physical abuse. I now have a nice, waterproof, empty Fujinon binoculars case. The stabilized binoculars sure were good for looking at the moon in my backyard, but that's about the most rigorous use they were able to stand up to.
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:35   #24
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What I don't like about IS binos is their fragility. When we prep for sailing, whenever we put the winch handles in their holders we put the binoculars in an open holder on the binnacle. The binos are there day and night, shine or rain, whether or not I'm taking spray, et cetera. They've gotten wet hundreds of times without any negative consequences. When I'm anchored out, they usually stay on the binnacle all night.

IS binos won't stand up to that sort of use. Which means you'll keep them below, in a protective box, with the battery switched off. Which means that when you suddenly need them, they won't be there. Whales breaching? Sorry, the binos are down below. Need to quickly determine the daymarks that other boat is showing? Sorry, the binos are down below. Are those people sailing naked? Sorry.....
Thanks, Bash. Great point. Our binocs are always at hand so there's never a moment's hesitation about using them. If the only way to keep the IS ones healthy is in a box below, they won't get used.
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:45   #25
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I have two pairs of binoc's aboard, one with a compass (Steiner) one cheap pair that I keep for the kids and others that work OK for daytime use, and if they went over the side, then oh well. The good ones come out and stay out when we are out of the bay, or if there is something to see, like a concert on the bay, or whatever. 2 years of regular use, and the eBay bought Steiners are still in great shape.
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:02   #26
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What are peoples' experience with image stabilizing binoculars? I have a "guest quality" pair of binoculars with compass and a hand-bearing compass. I find it easier to get a bearing with the HBC if there's any kind of sea running. I'm planning to upgrade the binoculars. I tested a pair of image stabilized binoculars at the Newport Boat Show last Fall and was impressed -- but I was in a controlled setting and supposed to be impressed. Do they work well in the real world and, if so, does it make it easier to get a bearing in less stable conditions?
They are AWESOME, and have they ever come down in price. My only experience with them was on a game count where we used them from helicopters. It was much easier to sex the moose then without them (yeah, yeah, I know someone is going to make a joke out of this). Considering the turbulence we were subject to, I suspect they would work very well in all kinds of seas.

Sure glad the government was paying for them at the time... they were over $3,000.
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:09   #27
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The first time I got decent waterproof binocs, I plopped them in the sink to make sure they were waterproof. AND THEY FLOAT! Funy thing, even without a float strap, there's so much air space in binocs that most WILL FLOAT.

So especially if you have a nice brightly colored neoprene strap on them, there's a very good chance you can recover "binocs overboard!" and they may very well be unharmed. The hardest part is spotting black binocs in dark water, and some bright tape or reflective tape can really help that.
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:19   #28
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First -- I agree with others who say "don't cheap-out on binos". Alignment, clarity, and light gathering differences between cheapo and mid-priced units are major. The differences between mid-priced and high-end are a little more subtle, but if going for a mid-priced IMHO you should still pick a brand known for high-quality optics. (Fujinon, Steiner, Nikon, come to mind, though there may be others. Definitely NOT Bushnell or West Marine or other private label.)

I keep two pairs aboard -- a Fujinon 14x40 Image-Stabilized and a 7x50 mid-priced Nikon with integrated bearing compass.

The compass definitely comes in handy, as others have noted. Why not have it?

I keep the Nikons in an open carrier just inside the companionway and they're always ready to grab. They're superior for scanning the horizon and light-gathering for night use, and for a "quick look" at anything, or quick bearing (when the radar is off) to determine whether we're on a converging course with other vessels.

The Fujinons are kept in a case and only come up when we're underway. Once they come out they're kept behind the dodger and picked up when needed. The I-S performance is EXCELLENT and so is the optical clarity -- these are the ones to use when you want to hail another vessel by name or read the number on a buoy. In other words, when you need to see more or better.

I've had the Nikons about 12-15 years and the Fujinons about 10 years -- no problems with either, but it only makes sense that the I-S binos are more complex mechanically, inside, and therefore more fragile. We do baby them.
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:41   #29
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Thanks, Bash. Great point. Our binocs are always at hand so there's never a moment's hesitation about using them. If the only way to keep the IS ones healthy is in a box below, they won't get used.
Mine get used a lot! Had 'em 10 years and no issues. They can last.

ANY binos (I-S or not) should be treated with care. They are subject to breakage if subjected to hard-knocks or sat-upon (or stowed beneath heavy gear) or more likely they will go out of alignment and the image quality will suffer.

If you have crew who tend to abuse equipment and/or test the limits of what it takes to break things, then don't get I-S units and don't spend a lot of money even on quality basic optics. Get cheap ones for young kids and clumsy guests and keep the good ones away from them.

Fine optics will not stay that way if abused.
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:42   #30
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Getting back to the original question, I googled Bushnell 137500 binocs, and they appear to be what I've got on my boat as our 'good' pair. Because they're heavy, and have individual focusing, I only use them at night, or to take a bearing. I don't recall them being that cheap when we bought them. BTW, google came up with even cheaper than $140.

I agree with keeping cheaper pairs around. We have two other, very basic Bushnells, 7x50 and 7x35, suitable for guests (and grandchildren). I use the 7x35 in the daytime, since they're center focus and I can use them one-handed (owing to some recent medical problems, I've got shakier hands than normal, so the light weight helps).

Finally, all three pair have been on the boat for years with no problems, but we're not out cruising yet. We're both still working and only occasionally leave Chesapeake Bay for coastal cruising.
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