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Discussion Starter #1
I remember years ago watching Americas Cup racing and marvelling at the technology they were using. They used laser range finders that were the size of a loaf of bread to measure distance to their competitors.

These days the market is full of inexpensive, compact units designed for golfing and hunting. I'm thinking something like that would be handy to have on board. I have never been very good at estimating distances and I think it would be handy to have for anchoring, and perhaps even as a tactical tool for racing. I already have a nice pair of binoculars with a compass, so a compact monocle type would be what I would get. A built in compass would be a bonus.

Does anyone carry a rangefinder on board, and if so, what make and model do you have and what are your thoughts on it?

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It would need to have a pretty significant range to be worthwhile, IMHO. At least 2nms. And I would have thought that would be expensive military grade stuff.

I would love one.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It would need to have a pretty significant range to be worthwhile, IMHO. At least 2nms. And I would have thought that would be expensive military grade stuff.



I would love one.
Yeah 2nm would be pretty tough to use. How do you keep a laser on target over that distance? For that kind of range Radar is what you need. I was thinking more like 500m or less. Anything further away is of no concern to me!

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Yeah 2nm would be pretty tough to use. How do you keep a laser on target over that distance? For that kind of range Radar is what you need. I was thinking more like 500m or less. Anything further away is of no concern to me!

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I'm more than content using the range rings on my chartplotter to give me range to fixed objects or shore and my MkI Mod 1 eyeball for anything else.

Having recently taken a long range shooting course I can tell you that a LRF that will reliably range to 1000 yards or beyond is not inexpensive by my standards, and I'd be reluctant to take one on a boat.
 

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Yeah 2nm would be pretty tough to use. How do you keep a laser on target over that distance? For that kind of range Radar is what you need. I was thinking more like 500m or less. Anything further away is of no concern to me!

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Can you hold it still for the 24.72 microseconds it need to travel from the rangefinder to the target 2 nmi away and back, I think so. Holding it on a target is not hard if you can see it you can lase it with a range finder.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Can you hold it still for the 24.72 microseconds it need to travel from the rangefinder to the target 2 nmi away and back, I think so. Holding it on a target is not hard if you can see it you can lase it with a range finder.
Perhaps, but I don't see the value in that kind of range for my purposes anyway. I was thinking in terms of using it to measure distance to boats and to shore in an anchorage, and possibly using it to measure progress against nearby boats on the race course.

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These days it seems as if a plotter can provide ranges to charted "things" but not to boats. Radar and AIS can do some of that... Other boats in an achorage? If you can quesstimate that distance.. you shouldn't be operating a boat.
 

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Somewhere I have a piloting book that explains how to use an inexpensive sextant to find distance off a distant mark. I sold my old Davis sextant many years ago, but I recall that the author was using it on its 'side' to measure angles for different marks or other distinct features. Or at least that is what I dimly recall reading. The book was by John Budlong, or some such name.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
These days it seems as if a plotter can provide ranges to charted "things" but not to boats. Radar and AIS can do some of that... Other boats in an achorage? If you can quesstimate that distance.. you shouldn't be operating a boat.
Nice. I am talking about for things like determining if someone is dragging or getting closer, and maybe reinforcing my "quesstimate" of distances. (That's not a word by the way.)

So the fact that I am considering a tool to help me be more accurate in my distance estimates means I should not be operating a boat? Nice. Why do some people have to jump into these discussions with such arrogance?



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Nice. I am talking about for things like determining if someone is dragging or getting closer, and maybe reinforcing my "quesstimate" of distances. (That's not a word by the way.)

So the fact that I am considering a tool to help me be more accurate in my distance estimates means I should not be operating a boat? Nice. Why do some people have to jump into these discussions with such arrogance?



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Sorry... I didn't mean to be insulting....

You should be able to access if boat anchored near you are dragging.... without a range finder. Of course if they are yawing... your boat is yawing it's hard to actually know with precision... range finder or not. If you're watching you should be able to tell if a boat is coming close to you.

With a big wind shift you will have to re evaluate. But again after observation for some time you should be able to tell if a neighbor is dragging down on you... or you on them.

When in doubt... re anchor with more room,
 

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Well, let me go back to my earleir post and flesh it out now that I have a fraction more time.

When I was an Infantry Officer back when Charles Darwin was alive the mortar forward observers had very snazzy range finding binoculars that I think worked out to about 2,000 meters/yards.
I see theres one on amazon 1,750 yards for US$3,000(!)

I thought the FO's range finders were the antz pantz because one of the most difficult things for the young officer or anyone is to judge distances... especially difficult in 2 circumstances: where theres 'dead' ground, ie a dip you cant see; and; dead flat such as the sea, water, lakes, ocean etc.

When you're yelling into the radio "Drop 100!" you basically wanna be sure that 100 meters/yards is actually that so the bombs wont start busting your ears. :) (mothers get angry!)

Yes, at anchor I strongly doubt anyone is much good at judgeing distance. Is that ship 1nm away or 5nms? You can only tell if you know the length of the ship and can plot that in your eye. which is impossible. Its its a 600 foot long ship at 5nms its going to look the same at a 200 foot ship at 1 nms.

Is that anchored boat 400 meters away or 350?

But lets get to cost. $3,000 is crazy. I would spend an extra $100 on top of the $500 Steiners... but youre probably gunna want Image Stabalisation too! And they are an extra $500.

What price is a good one thats going to work well over 500 meters? 1/4 of a NM?
 

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For anchoring purposes- distance to neighboring vessels... range finders are of little use
 

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I have a range finder, but I've never used it aboard. I see how it could be of value.

No matter what I've ever estimated my distance to be, the moment I depart in my dinghy and see the actual separation, it's been about 2X more.
 
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I got a Callaway range finder as a door prize at a golf tournament a few years ago (it’s on the boat now and I’m not and don’t recall the model number) but it has been useful to me in calibrating my Mark I eyeballs as I estimate distance to neighboring boats or to shore when I anchor.

It’s certainly not a must have item, but it’s good to have something like that to use to double check my guesstimates....i prefer secluded anchorages but every now and then have ended up in a tight spot, and it’s been comforting to know there really was room enough for the boat to swing with the tide without meeting the neighbors!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I see there are dozens of laser range finders on the market designed for golf and shooting. Bushnell's entry level model is $169 and claims accurate measurements up to 1300 yards. I'm sure the $300 price range units are much better than that.

I don't have a lot of experience anchoring yet, but we will be doing much more of it in future. Some of the places we are going will likely be crowded and require stern tie to shore. It would be nice to quickly lase the shore and know for sure I have enough stern line to get to shore and back instead of estimating and finding out I am 10 meters short.

One time we were at anchor in a raft and the wind had picked up. There was much speculation that a boat to windward of us was getting closer, but nobody seemed sure. It turned out it was slowly dragging in the gusts. In a scenario like that a quick scan with a range finder would put an end to the speculation very quickly.

When racing, there have been countless times where there have been discussions about whether or not we were slowly gaining on a boat, or not. Or are we working up on a windward boat going upwind. It takes careful watching to decide if you are making gains or not. A range finder would be a useful tool for tactical purposes, particularly if it had a built in compass as well.

Is it a necessary gadget? Of course not. People have got by without them for years. Is it potentially a useful tool? I think so.

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Discussion Starter #20
I've never never in 35 years of anchoring felt the need to know precisely the distance to another boat. When it get crowded... I will move to where it's not. I have had unattended rafted boats drag down and hook my chain.... the harbor master towed them off.



Wifey doesn't like to be near boats and makes me anchor far enough for her comfort level.



I can rent you wifey... she cooks good too.
There are no harbour masters where we are going. The anchorage may not be crowded when we arrive, but might fill up as evening approaches. Somehow I don't think my wife would be interested in pulling up anchor and finding another anchorage as dusk approaches.

So you've made it clear you have no use for one. Others seem to disagree.

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