August 2012

Right direction

How to choose the perfect compass

No boat should be without a magnetic compass. Even if you use GPS to set and monitor your course, you’ll find it easier to steer and hold a course using a compass. A compass also serves as an essential backup when all else fails.

Important factors to consider when choosing a compass:

  • Larger magnetic compasses can be more accurate, more stable and easier to read than smaller ones.
  • Compasses vary widely in quality, and price may not always be a reliable indicator.
  • Test the compass by moving a magnet nearby to draw the card to one side and then the other. Observe the movement; when you remove the magnet, the card should return smoothly and easily to its original position.
  • Install the best and largest compass that will fit your pocketbook and your boat.
  • Choose the correct type of compass for your boat. Compasses designed for sailboats are dampened to counteract the boat’s movement differently from those intended for powerboats. Sailboat compasses may also provide an additional scale indicating degree of heel.

To learn more about compass selection, installation and adjustment, take the Mariner’s Compass seminar at a squadron near you.




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Mastering Marlinespike

Lark’s head

About 2,000 years ago, a physician used the lark’s head to tie a sling for broken bones. Today this knot secures such things as baggage tags. Not used for much aboard ship, the knot will slip unless both the bitter end and the working part are both under tension.


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