Nikon Prostaff Range Finder: A Big Win in a Small Package

We just got home from our first mini-cruise of the year; this one to the south sound area of Hartstine Island. It was a ‘win’ all around, but one of the stars of our reality was our super little Prostaff Range finder made by Nikon. This was a Christmas gift to Mike last year from my mother, but I may have had something to do with whispering in Santa mom’s ear that this would be a good addition to our small  tools aboard Galapagos.

Ours is a rebuilt unit, which works great and cost less.

This was our first trip of the season and we wanted to play with all of our new toys before we actually needed them so we made a little guessing game about distances over the water. You know what? What they say about distances over the water is true: it’s weird how much further away things are than you think they are. Really! It is so very true that Mike did a couple of tests of the validity of this unit by using the GPS aboard to measure distance, then using the range finder to see if the results were the same. And they were. I offered to use the 100ft tape measure we have to be double dog sure of its accuracy, but Mike just looked at me. I’m so analog to his digital sometimes.

Our first anchorage was Rosedale, close to Gig Harbor. Rosedale is a very protected anchorage and this is where you should go if you want to look at houses. Seriously. There isn’t a spec of shoreline to anchor off without a big honking house plopped down on it. So I hope they enjoyed the view of Galapagos for a couple of days. We like looking at houses, but we’re not really fans of being in people’s back yards. Still, we dropped the hook in quiet water, surrounded by private docks, and whipped out the little Prostaff just for fun. How far is that private dock from our private boat?

Sure, it’s obviously far enough. But how far is it, really? What’s your guess? That dock in the middle was our target.

The Prostaff is dead easy to use. Just hold it to your eye, put your target in the crosshairs, and push a little button on top of the unit. That’s all there is to it. Just one button. Just one push. Maybe two if you want to be extra sure. Compare this ease of use to the new automatic fog horn Mike just installed. It automatically blows the fog horn every set number of seconds, which is nice.  It came with our GPS unit. I made the mistake of asking how to use the foghorn function. Apparently it involves pushing a button a number of times, reading tiny print on the screen, and then doing some kind of heavy scrolling action down a menu written for ants. I don’t know. I fell asleep during the scrolling down part. I’ll need written instructions for that one. Good thing we have those little cans of fog horn noise on board, too. In a pinch, I can just reach for one of those.  Give me one button to push and I’ll push it. Just one.

Hold it to your eye. Site your target. Push one easy button. Read the number. Done.

The answer to our quiz? The closest private dock was 162 yards from our boat. Whaaattt? That was way further than we guessed. We double and triple checked, which is easy enough to do since you only have to PUSH ONE BUTTON! In the second photo of this post, that dock is our target and that dock is 162 yards from the boat. That is over 1.5 times the distance of the playing field in football.

Here’s what having this little unit on board has done for my anxiety about being too close to things:


How much anxiety? Zero. Nada.

Now, maybe you don’t want to spend the money on one of these little gizmos. No worries because we’ve got you covered with a cheap and easy old-school way to make one, which I just discovered while going through some of our old sailing books during this trip. In this case Crusing World’s Workbench:

I’ll just let them do the talking. They ‘splain it better than me anyhow. Warning: Involves math. Now do you want to just buy the digital version?

After we got settled I plopped the dinghy into the water to dinghy out to this sailboat anchored at the other end of the bay. I thought I recognized her from when we were boat shopping years before and I was right. She is a beautiful Spencer 1330 named Athena. Had she been in our price range, she would have been a serious contender for us. She is absolutely beautiful and I’ll bet she sails like a dream.

Narrower of beam than our boat, and without the full keel, she still represents a seriously great blue water cruiser. And guess what! She is still for sale. I can’t imagine why, but she’s listed on Craigslist and Yachtworld.   She has almost everything Galapagos has, including a new Beta Marine engine, PLUS a double walled Airex hull, which I seriously wish we had. If you know someone in the market for a boat in this price range, turn them on to this boat. We took a good long look at her from the outside and took a number of photos. We liked what we saw. Just beautiful.

Athena, a Spencer 1330, sitting in Rosedale harbor.


10 thoughts on “Nikon Prostaff Range Finder: A Big Win in a Small Package

  1. “I’m so analog to his digital”. Ha!

    But give me a solid hull to a cored one every time. I don’t like the thought of two hulls, one inside the other, separated only by decrepitated foam. Yeah I know… it’s just me.

  2. Oh, I gotta get me one o’ those!! What an excellent idea!

    I am worthless at distance, (just ask anyone). You should see Bill throw up his hands, (figuratively), when he needs my assistance to back up the truck or trailer. Me: Uh, you have 3 feet, I mean 1 foot, or maybe 10 feet! Bill: (sigh), Step aside please, I’ll get out of the truck and look to see what is going on. It’s sort of a funny drama, except when it’s not. ;-(

    I have a really good story about how I had to jump into a lake (fully clothed), and grab our trailerable sailboat before it drifted away. I’m sure that was a funny drama for everyone else at the loading ramp. I laugh now, but not then.

    Donna/Denali Rose

    • Okay I just snorted my drink through my nose. Thanks alot. It does sound like this would be a useful item for your boat. I know we are keeping ours in the cockpit right handy. Glad that story has a happy ending! A person could get hurt jumping in to catch a boat bare handed!

  3. We almost bought one last winter but decided to see if we could find something cheaper. In the meantime, I decided that it would be a SOURCE of more disputes than it would solve. Patrick: “See? We’re 25 meters from the nearest rocks !” Me: “Yes, but those are just the rocks you SEE. What about the ones UNDER the water that will bash our rudder as soon as we swing with the current? I don’t have good charts for this area and unless you’re diving to check it out, we’re moving!” Once a friend pointed out that things really are further away than we think. Now I try to loosen up about it…which just means I grudgingly accept to anchor and then spend every waking minute in the cockpit, staring down those rocks…

    • We kind of made a guessing game about it, and that works. But we’ve just started using it. I do think in a situation as you are describing, though, we’d probably move further off. Neither of us wants to end up on rocks, and we both like to have a decent night’s sleep whenever possible. The further from rocks the better in my book.

  4. I’m terrible at judging distances – I need one of these! While the idea of making my own sound interesting, the idea of doing math problems does not 🙂 Glad Amy has been effectively silenced on the distance matters.

    • I’m with you. By the time i figured out the math, I would be on the rocks. It’s not that I cannot add, subtract, or divide, it’s just that I get bored and distracted by shiny things. Just get one. You won’t regret it. How close is that alligator to my hull?

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