Let There Be Dark!
By Andy Adams
THIS SUMMER stay out longer, go farther, have more fun!
Admit it; by nightfall, nearly every
boat is back in its slip at your marina, or
yacht club, right?
Even though every summer’s day is
precious, we want to get back safely and
that has always meant before dark. Yet,
when you’re a boater and the weatherman is promising a fabulous weekend,
you’re going to want to get out early and
stay out as long as you can.
No wonder the buzz is suddenly all
around ‘night vision’.
The next big thing for pleasure craft
and cruising yachtsmen is thermal imaging and night vision. Anyone who has
ever tried to get through a channel and
into their berth in a marina or yacht club
after nightfall knows how valuable it
would be to see clearly in the dark.
During the Miami boat show this year,
I joined a press group onboard a dinner
cruise in darkness around Biscayne Bay.
This was sponsored by Raymarine and
FLIR to give a real-life demonstration of
their thermal night vision equipment. It
was an eye-opening experience!
Although we’ve written about this
equipment in very positive terms in the
past, it’s one of those things that you really have to see to believe. Set up on the
back deck of the cruise ship Caprice, for
our dinner cruise around Biscayne Bay,
were several Raymarine and FLIR systems
including their affordable hand-held
model the First Mate.
Starting just before dusk, we were
able to maneuver the cameras to pick
out targets on the water and on shore,
seeing first with our own eyes, then trying out the First Mate and finally comparing that to the images on Raymarine
E140 display screens.
Even at dusk when we could still see
people in the distance walking along the
Miami shoreline, they were more clear on
the First Mate and very clear on the larger
system. Once the sun was fully down, the
crew cast off the Caprice and we made
our way around the bay. This gave us the
opportunity to search out many different
objects and structures onshore, or to
clearly spot the literally dozens of small
boats that were zigzagging across the bay
in the dark.
These were small fishing vessels
scooping up bait fish to sell the next day.
They had small nets on spreaders out
both sides and they run a pattern around
the bay, showing little concern for other
The night vision systems all provided
a great sense of security to actually “see”
these vessels clearly as boats, not just as
In the recreational marine business,
FLIR was the brand that first came to our
attention and FLIR, with their huge
resources from the company’s success in
military and law enforcement were able
to buy out the Raymarine brand last year
– a clear declaration of their belief in the
future of the boating market.
Recently, OceanView, another night
vision company, announced that their
Apollo II night vision camera can now be
fully integrated into Furuno’s NavNet 3D
navigation system. What makes this
unique is that OceanView claims this
makes the Apollo II the only thermal system that can be managed without an
external controller, providing a seamless,
complete package. Yacht owners can control their OceanView camera’s functions,