“Thermal imaging is a huge stress reliever,” Rota says. “It can make the captain more comfortable while navigating in the black of night.”
While prudent seamanship dictates maintaining a safe speed, especially when visibility is limited, thermal imaging in some cases might allow the helmsman to step up the cruising speed from, for example, 6 knots to 12 knots. That means getting to the fishing grounds in half the time.
Thermal imaging also puts crew members at ease. During a recent trip offshore on an inky, moonless night, for instance, the lack of visibility pushed one of my guests to the verge of an anxiety attack.
To allay his fear, I handed him my handheld thermal imaging scope and instructed him to scan the water ahead and sing out if he spotted anything. His anxiety soon melted away.
“The brain plays tricks when you can’t see the waves or the horizon,” Digweed says. Thermal imaging helps eliminate that feeling of disorientation and enhances situational awareness.