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Old 14-04-2012, 09:01   #1
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Range Finder When Anchoring

Hey all, we find that even after hundreds of nights at anchor we're still not awesome at guessing distances. We will often use our radar to judge distances in an anchorage to make sure we're leaving enough room. This time out, we're thinking about getting a laser range finder to verify distances.

Anyone use these things? Any one have a good recommendation on a decent range finder that won't be staggeringly expensive?

Thanks!

Jason
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Old 14-04-2012, 09:34   #2
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Re: Range finder when anchoring

Bushnell makes one for the golf course that is dead-on. They sell for about $249.
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Old 14-04-2012, 10:09   #3
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Re: Range finder when anchoring

or just use your handbearing compass to take bearings on two places and then triangulate the bearings on your chart.
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Old 14-04-2012, 10:17   #4
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Re: Range finder when anchoring

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
or just use your handbearing compass to take bearings on two places and then triangulate the bearings on your chart.
Triangulation will help with distances from charted objects but not from other boats in the anchorage.
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Old 14-04-2012, 10:26   #5
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Re: Range finder when anchoring

What about rowing the dinghy over to the nearest boat to borrow a cup of sugar while surreptitiously unreeling a ball of twine. On your return you can measure the twine and know for sure you're too close.
Actually the Bushnell thing sounds a great idea....
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Old 14-04-2012, 10:54   #6
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Take a look at the old fashioned optic rangefinder. You might find them in the bow section at Bass Pro or Gander mountain. Much cheaper and still good for a couple hundred yards.
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Old 14-04-2012, 11:29   #7
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

You can actually get much better at judging distance by eye if you try/study/practice.

One of the more useful techniques when starting is the 'extended arm'.

Hold out your arm with your thumb up, find an object you think to be about 6' tall (like a human). If your thumb just covers it, it is about 150 ft away.

Hold out your fist and find an object about 40' long (like a sailboat), if your fist just covers it, it is about 220 ft away.

You will note that a key is to try to find an object of known size on the target (a human, a port, the boat's beam, etc). It's much harder to judge distance accurately to an object of completely unknown size.
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Old 14-04-2012, 11:35   #8
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Been using 1 for several years on lake superior. Some of the anchorages get pretty crowded close to the end of the day & I like to know how far apart we are. Mine was just $225 from gander mountain. They work great! No affil... :-)
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Old 14-04-2012, 11:46   #9
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

Ive found that if ya have a ULGY boat folks will stay away from ya !!LOL Ive even had folks leave after I got there !! and we even shower !! just a thought
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Old 14-04-2012, 11:55   #10
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

I have used an optical 1m stereo rangefinder for some time, but the main advantage of it, or any stadiametric or laser rangefinder should be to help you become a better judge of distance over water. Practice with the rangefinder of your choice until you can judge distances on your own without artificial aids.
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Old 14-04-2012, 18:15   #11
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We always verify distance via radar.
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Old 14-04-2012, 18:49   #12
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

I use the hand bearing compass to verify position & drift. Write the numbers down and leave them with the compass. My binoculars have a range finder built in & a directional compass but its a bit of a pain. The Range finders noted above are great. I also have a Watchmate AIS that does anchor watch so I know where I have been avery 20 minutes all night & alarm.
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Old 14-04-2012, 19:59   #13
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

We use a Bushnell Sport 450, under $150 at Amazon. Extremely useful. We use bearing triangulation as a supplemental check, but it is error prone. The rangefinder is fast and even works through the windscreen on our boat. It seems accurate (ie repeatable) for ranges up to 200 yds. Under perfect conditions I've used it at 400 yds (to a white building).

It is *great* to be able to check distances to nearby boats.

The biggest challenge for the rangefinder (but this applies to triangulation also) is that when it is very dark, it is hard to see the targets. I've used a searchlight to pick them out, but this is not really satisfactory. Second challenge is that it is electronic and needs batteries.

Money well spent IMHO.

Van
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Old 14-04-2012, 20:06   #14
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Re: Range Finder When Anchoring

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Originally Posted by afmstm View Post
We use a Bushnell Sport 450, under $150 at Amazon. Extremely useful. We use bearing triangulation as a supplemental check, but it is error prone. The rangefinder is fast and even works through the windscreen on our boat. It seems accurate (ie repeatable) for ranges up to 200 yds. Under perfect conditions I've used it at 400 yds (to a white building).

It is *great* to be able to check distances to nearby boats.

The biggest challenge for the rangefinder (but this applies to triangulation also) is that when it is very dark, it is hard to see the targets. I've used a searchlight to pick them out, but this is not really satisfactory. Second challenge is that it is electronic and needs batteries.

Money well spent IMHO.

Van
I was just reading the customer reviews on Cabelas various range finders. Chief complaints were poor performance in low light, excessive battery consumption, lower range than advertised. There were also some catastrophic failures not supported by the vendors, resulting in expensive desk ornaments.
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Old 14-04-2012, 20:56   #15
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Re: Range finder when anchoring

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
or just use your handbearing compass to take bearings on two places and then triangulate the bearings on your chart.
Done in one. It's called Coastal Pilotage and it's easy to master. All charts have landmarks and if it's a radio tower of known height you can use a sextant to determine distance off through a simple calculation or you can get your angles by flipping the sextant on its side...but realistically, a bearing compass is just as easy.

You can do this underway as well with a running fix. The math is very straightforward.
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