May 2012 Issue
Lighting the Way
While electronic navigation plays a dominant role on most of today’s boats, paper charts still have their place at the prudent sailor’s nav station. No chartplotter can match the “big picture” view offered by paper charts, or the backup benefit in a power outage, hardware failure, or lightning strike.
One handy chartplotter feature that paper charts don’t have is the ability to adjust illumination for better visibility after dark, when maintaining night vision is crucial. Weems & Plath (W&P) has addressed this night-vision quandary with its new LED-lit dividers, a navigation tool that functions as both compass and dividers for day and night use.
The LED Light Divider features a red LED built into each of the divider’s legs for use in low-light conditions. The Light Divider measures 7 inches long and weighs 3.04 ounces. Power is via a single CR1220 watch battery (provided), which provides about 20 hours of continuous use. Constructed of coated marine alloy to resist corrosion, the German-made Light Divider comes with an extra stainless-steel point, spare knob, pencil lead (to convert it to a compass) and is backed by a lifetime warranty. A small wheel between the legs allows users to precisely position them on a chart.
Testers found the Light Divider to be well-made and good looking. The wheel was easily adjustable with one-handed operation, yet stiff enough to maintain the dividers in position once set.
The LEDs illuminated the precise area of the chart being worked on, and also served as a mini-lamp for viewing wider areas once pulled back from the chart a bit. They also eliminated the hand shadows that overhead lighting tends to create.
The only issue we had with the test sample was that the plastic threads for one of the screws securing the battery cover were stripped—likely a result of the manufacturing process. The threads for both screws are tapped into a plastic nub and are somewhat delicate, requiring some caution when replacing the battery.
According to W& P, no other customer had ever reported such a problem. The company immediately inspected all of the dividers in its warehouse inventory and found that none had a stripped screw, leading us to believe our case was the exception, not the rule.
Bottom line: Testers liked the $38 LED Light Divider and were quite pleased with its performance. It would serve well for both day and night use. The divider’s lifetime warranty, W&P’s reputation for excellent customer service, and the results of its followup investigation void any concern we had about the screws.