Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 07-02-2010, 09:47   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Southern Chesapeake Bay
Boat: Norseman 430, Jabberwock
Posts: 610
Using Laser Light to Find Markers

I read of someone using a laser light to locate channel markers, and that seemed like a good idea, if it works. No being blinded by the spotlight lighting up the foredeck would be great, but I wonder how obvious the reflection would be, and if you can discern the color of the marker.
Before I plunk down $100 for a serious one,I thought I'd ask if any of you have seen if this really works. And what kind of range could be expected ?

ggray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2010, 20:45   #2
Do… or do not
s/v Jedi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: in paradise
Boat: Sundeer 64
Posts: 8,867
The right tool for this is radar. Save until you can buy one or use it if you already have it!


s/v Jedi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2010, 21:07   #3
Registered User
scook1's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bourbonnais, Illinois
Boat: McGregor venture 15 "IMP"
Posts: 506
I cant imagine that this would work well. Are we thinking of the same kind of laser light? A small pen like object? If you knew where the marker was, you might be able to hit it with the laser. Even then, you would only see a small red dot on whatever surface it hit. I am not completely discounting it, but seriously doubt it as an acceptable tool.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
scook1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2010, 21:12   #4
Registered User
chala's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: gone sailing Australia
Boat: RR370
Posts: 1,237
It also would require to have a fair range and then become a serious weapon. At least unlike a radar it would not return false target.
chala is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2010, 21:17   #5
Registered User
henkmeuzelaar's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Rocky Mountains & Vanuatu
Boat: Zodiac Ribster 17' "HAV"
Posts: 40
We used to carry a powerful laser-pointer aboard with a stated range of about 1,000 yards.

Its primary intended use was to serve as a possible nonviolent deterrent when being approached by vessels with unknown but suspect intentions at night. Fortunately, we never had a chance to find out whether it might have worked or not....

When we tried to use it to help spot buoys, etc., the light reflected by such objects showed such strong interference patterns (because of the coherent nature of the laser beam) that it was nearly impossible to make out any shapes or forms, let alone any textures or colors, in the dark.

Flying Dutchman
henkmeuzelaar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2010, 21:25   #6
Senior Cruiser
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 17,194
a night vision scope can be an amazing tool...
Cheechako is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 05:50   #7
Registered User
markpj23's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Black Hills, SD
Boat: Now Boatless
Posts: 1,148
Images: 47
How on earth could a pinpoint laser be hand-held and stable enough to find a channel marker while being used on the deck of a pitching boat? Unless the laser beam width gets really wide at distance, but then wide beam = less accuracy.

Unless you find an automated tracking / pointing system I think this would be a waste of time.....

Radar & night vision are better alternatives IMHO....
markpj23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 06:21   #8
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 3,927
Images: 4
So is a good pair of 7x50s and the Mark I eyeball -- so long as night vision hasn't been spoiled by looking at screens or other non-red lights.

btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 07:00   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2009
Boat: Charter
Posts: 167
I was surprised myself how well a pocket laser-pointer will light up a reflective roadsign; if you're a block away, it lights up the whole sign, not just a pinpoint. But that's because I could see the sign and knew where to point the laser. I'm not sure how well it would work trying to locate something you can't see.
sec906 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 08:33   #10

Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 744
I saw a prototype product that was made for this a few years ago. It wasn't one of those presentation-type pinpoint laser pointers. It looked like a flashlight and it somehow scattered or vibrated the laser coming out to throw a much wider beam. We pointed it at a buoy in the fog a few hundred yards away and it's reflector showed up clear as a bell.

I've never seen the product appear. It was created by a guy in Alaska from what I remember. There are some patents in this area too.
ActiveCaptain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 10:26   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Jupiter FL
Boat: temporarily boatless...
Posts: 639
I've done it, and once you actually hit the marker, it works great (first finding the marker can take a little longer). The problem is that on most markers (oddly, not all...) you cannot see a green laser beam on the red markers, so you need both a red and a green, but yes, it does work, and it is bright. pete
pete33458 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 11:04   #12
Registered User
svHyLyte's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Tampa Bay area, USA
Boat: Beneteau First 42
Posts: 2,975
Images: 25
In theory one might be able to use a Laser Rescue Flare (see Greatland Laser ). In practice, however, we have never had much difficulty picking up marks with a spotlight and a good pair of binoculars. (We do have these devices attached to each individuals' PFD--Just in case.)

"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
svHyLyte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 13:51   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Great Neck, N.Y.
Boat: Lancer 30, Little Jumps
Posts: 482
I keep a inexpensive laser infrared thermometer to measure
motor and exhaust temperatures on board(laser to sight, infrared
to measure temp) the laser will reach at least several hundred feet. I also use a night vision scope to spot buoys when needed.
Using a laser such as svHyLyte refers to would be a great addition to PFD's or a ditch bag.
s/v Little Jumps
Lancer 30
hugosalt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 20:07   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Southern Chesapeake Bay
Boat: Norseman 430, Jabberwock
Posts: 610
OOOkay. This does help. I was hoping to hear from folks who had tried one.

HyLyte, Greatland was the one I had heard about.

Sounds like they indeed do something, but not as much as I had hoped. I wondered about the color thing. Pete, your point really shows the limitations.

Thanks to all.
ggray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2010, 21:39   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Boat: Newport 28
Posts: 136
Greatland Laser Rescue Flares are for distress!

The Greatland Laser Rescue Flare is meant as a rescue item, to attract attention when you need help. Presumably you wouldn't use a pyrotechnic distress flare as a light source for finding channel markers? I suggest that rescue laser flares be reserved for situations when you are in distress, and NOT be used for other purposes.

Alaska: We're here, because we're not all there!
AK_sailor is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Signaling With A Laser Pointer maxingout Health, Safety & Related Gear 22 19-03-2009 05:33
LED light turned Nav light BLUE!!! MarkJ Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 19 28-01-2009 09:19
rope rode markers? Boomp General Sailing Forum 8 03-05-2008 12:52
On-Line Markers & Buoys (USA) GordMay Navigation 2 10-04-2008 09:26
AIR How light is to light to sail in? Perithead Off Topic Forum 26 04-12-2007 17:52

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 13:08.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.