May 13, 2022
Navigating a boat in darkness has certainly been made easier since the introduction of chart plotters and the ability to remain in the center of a marked channel might seem as simple as keeping your vessel’s cursor in the marked lane on a plotter screen. This is true to a point but a host of other variables make it too easy to get complacent while running at night and find yourself in a jam.
Unseen obstacles that aren’t labeled on a chart plotter such as other unlighted boats, floating debris, and even people in the water present the biggest threat of a collision you’ll encounter at night. Factors such as channel markers drifting out of place or moved to compensate for shifting sand bars are also a concern. Any of these items can turn a fun night of bridge fishing into a grave emergency.
The fact is that if you’re running at night you need to be completely engaged and undistracted, and limit how much you take your eyes off of the oncoming water. The blinding effect to your vision caused by a spotlight or any ambient lighting on your vessel can greatly reduce your ability to see an oncoming threat in the dark with reliable accuracy. It’s best to dim all the lights other than your navigation lights.
As a workaround to this dilemma, a very practical and effective device to offer you a clear picture of what’s ahead is a handheld digital night vision device. This technology in various forms has previously been very cost prohibitive for the average small boater and was limited to permanently installed applications on much larger boats. A small handheld unit by SIONYX is now offered in three different models that are well within reach of the average small boater. Units range in price from $599-$999 and can be upgraded with a separate IR illuminator light for increased detail. The image quality is remarkably clear and they require almost zero ambient light to work effectively.
SIONYX Aurora units are actually fully functioning cameras as well and are capable of recording data and streaming wirelessly to a smart device via the SIONYX App. As a handheld unit you can simply raise it to your eye as a reference to consult the water ahead and keep track of any oncoming obstacles in conjunction with what your plotter is showing you. Streaming the image to a phone enables you to keep your screen dimmed in night mode and view action live as it happens. The Aurora comes with rechargeable batteries and is Water Resistant (IP67.) The portability of the Aurora makes it easy to take with you from boat to boat or use off the water for land-based activities. www.sionyx.com