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It is not for nothing that night vision devices are in great demand among Navy SEALs, coastal police, fishers, yachters, and professional sailors. They give a detailed three-dimensional picture of what is happening, despite the difficult night conditions. Thanks to them, you can avoid a huge number of collisions and find people trapped in the sea. Night vision optics have become a versatile tool for safe navigation for small and large vessels at night. In this article, we will highlight the issues of choosing night vision devices for night yachting.
Yachting at night is for the strong-willed and experienced sailors. The picture changes completely at night. It becomes a problem to estimate the distance correctly, and, therefore, the likelihood of collisions increases. Many objects, obvious during the day, become a problem to distinguish at night. For example, fishing pots are perfectly visible during the day but almost invisible at night. Some of them can be located below sea level and are potentially prone to collision. Some of the buoys glow, but they can get lost against the background of bright coastal lights. And, therefore, this can lead to navigation errors and unpleasant consequences. Even large objects, such as a lighted yacht, can also become invisible against the backdrop of the brighter portlights. Breakwaters, bridge piers, large debris, and small, poorly lit ships become invisible in the dark. With the onset of night, the disappointing statistics of human errors and ship disasters grow. The situation when a person is overboard also quite threatening, especially if there is an impenetrable night overboard. In these challenging situations, night vision devices or thermal vision are beneficial.
Every boat owner is faced with a choice of optics for night navigation. Consider all the factors that you should pay attention to before buying this or that equipment. First of all, you need to decide on the visibility conditions. If the nights are full of moonlight or starlight, then night vision optics are an excellent choice. On rare moonless nights, infrared illumination will help. If the nights are dark, impenetrable, then it is worth considering the use of a thermal imager. Its use will be justified in fog, rain, snow. For thermal imaging equipment, a man overboard will be a bright marker against the background of a cold element. But every coin has two sides. The flip side of the coin for a thermal imager is the difficulty determining the distance to the object and the lack of details. We see the ship, its outline, but we cannot read the name on board. Night vision devices do an excellent job with this. They provide a realistic image to estimate the distance and bring the object closer for identification. It should be noted that not all models of thermal imagers can work in the northern seas. Most of them are designed for temperatures down to -25 Celsius. For shipping in lower temperatures, specialized instruments are needed. Ideally, you should have both. This will ensure maximum safety when navigating the vessel.
Yes, the generation of night vision devices matters. The most affordable will be the first generation of night vision devices. It is better to have first-generation optics than nothing. First-generation instruments will detect a large object at a short distance from the boat. For example, a lost buoy or a crew member who has gone overboard. But they are inferior to the second generation of night vision devices in terms of detection range and image clarity. The first-generation devices have a so-called “fish-eye” effect. The outer third of the picture may be fuzzy. First generation optics need illumination and cannot operate in passive mode. Unlike the first generation, the second generation of night vision can work without an IR flashlight and see well on moonlit nights. With a backlight, it can work in a low-light environment. The mid to high-end second-generation optics have received a lot of good reviews and are well deserved. Compared to the first generation, the second generation gives a much clearer picture without distortion and can detect small objects at a greater distance. The devices have many interesting functions. Such as a built-in compass, GPS, image brightness control, augmented reality. The third generation of NVG is beyond praise, but its cost is much higher than that of the first two generations. Mainly used by the police, army, rescuers, and professional sailors. The light of the stars is enough for it to work correctly. It does an excellent job dealing with glare, giving the best image possible without noise or distortion. The third generation of night vision is equipped to the maximum with pleasant additional functions, which greatly simplifies the tasks of target detection, orientation on the ground, and communication. He has an exclusive line of more technologically advanced models - Gen 3 Hand Select or Gen 3 Unfilmed. This is the best date option, but it will take years before it becomes available to the mainstream consumer.
This is a difficult question to answer as it includes individual preferences. But some general trends can be traced. The choice is influenced by the lighting conditions of the main routes, the flight frequency, the crew's man, the comfort of use, and the budget. With rare yachting along the coastline on bright nights, it is quite possible to get by with a 1 or 2 generation night vision monocular. An inexpensive solution that will give you a more comfortable journey and a pleasant port call. If you wish to have your hands free to steer the boat, night vision goggles will give you this opportunity. Night vision binoculars can be used with a free team member. It will allow you to survey wider areas than monocular or night vision goggles and give a good magnification of the target. The image will be three-dimensional, which is convenient for determining the target range. The models in the middle and high price segment of the second generation and the third have proven well. Among the options, we note a night vision camera connected to a multifunctional monitor at the helm—a very convenient solution for both large and small vessels. The only negative is the cost. As you can see, there is a choice for every taste and budget.
Modern night vision devices provide safer navigation along the sea routes. Having once invested in the purchase of night vision optics, you can avoid many troubles associated with night sailing. Night vision equipment is always a big plus in terms of the safety of the vessel and the comfortable work of the crew members.
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