The LightWedge Night Vision ($40) is one of those simple but decidedly useful products that makes you ask yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?" Designed for boaters and pilots, this lightweight illuminator casts red LED light onto charts, so you needn't ruin your night vision with overhead lights. It features one-touch operation, reportedly runs for up to 40 hours on four AAA batteries, and has two brightness levels. Best of all, the lens is optical-grade and distortion-free, which means you can read your charts with ease but won't strain your eyes.
I'll let you in on an embarrassing little secret: I harbor lingering childhood fantasies about being suddenly blessed with superpowers. I mean, how great would it be to fly? Or render yourself invisible? Well, with the help of Newcon Optik's Phantom 150 Nightscope, mere mortals like you and I have been granted the ability to see in the dark. The Phantom 150 is an innovative monocular scope that uses infrared technology to collect ambient light, which it amplifies electronically. It's a useful tool for night-time navigation—letting boaters enter harbors or negotiate channels without fear of collision. At just under $2,000, the Phantom 150 is a bit of an investment, but given that it's lightweight, it's waterproof, and, of course, lets you see at night, it's worth it.
Have you ever found yourself in a dinghy at night wondering, “Am I going the right way?” Assuming yours was a nonesoteric question, then you'll be pleased to learn that you can kiss such moments of directional doubt goodbye. The Illuminated Hand Bearing Compass from Davis ($40) is a pistol-grip instrument that gives boaters an accurate bearing to a fixed point when it's held at arm's length. Its direct-read, liquid-damped card has front and rear sights and five-degree graduations. And because the compass lights up, it can be easily read while you're navigating at night. So, while I can't promise figurative guidance, it will help ensure that your wayward dinghy is a thing of the past.
Helpful to even the most skilled boater, Weems & Plath's LIGHTrule COLREGS is a practical tool that identifies vessels according to their running lights and daytime shapes, as defined by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. This durable 41/2"x16" plastic card displays 60 light configurations and comes with a magnifying lens that makes vessel descriptions easy to read. The LIGHTrule COLREGS also displays signals for restricted visibility, maneuvering, and warning. At $25, it's a handy, inexpensive cheat-sheet to keep onboard.
Weems & Plath
This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.