View Full Version : Compass
Carina (16' faering) would like to have a compass so her skipper can learn to read one. But because she's just a day sailor she doesn't need to spend a ton of money and besides she never gets out of site of land. (she also has a steel center board)
05-28-2007, 05:08 PM
a handbearing compass or hockey puck might be in order....something like the military pocket compass......I have a standard military "Ranger" compass that I would carry when wandering around some small islands in the dink, where there was a chance that I was wandering too far up some creek.......
05-28-2007, 05:19 PM
There's a modern hand bearing compass I want. Its an ice cream cone style ( whatever you call that:rolleyes: ) and has a trigger on the handle so you can lock off the bearing .I've lost the name of it but regard that as great feature.
They usually have clips so they can double as a boat compass.
05-28-2007, 05:33 PM
I have one of those in my storage unit.....once you get the bearing you just tap the trigger to lock the card.....neat machine......there's a similar function on my pocket compass. I have another that measures the bearing, and if I am aiming up or downhill it will give the relative angle up or down in plus or minus degrees...really handy when making long distance rifle shots to compensate for bullet rise or drop.
05-28-2007, 06:02 PM
Remember that in the fog you can be 500' from shore and out of sight of land. I have two concerns with just carrying a hand bearing compass:
1. It would be all to easy to drop it and damage it or loose it over the side. In the fog this could be a fatal mistake if you do not have a backup method of determining which way leads to shore and which way puts you in shipping channel.
2. In the fog it is pretty hard to steer by many hand bearing compasses. You really need something that you can set down and read while you are sailing or rowing.
For serious navigation (whether for practice of for real) you do need a hand bearing compass so you can take bearings on things, BUT you also need a "fixed" compass that you can steer by and not worry about it sliding around because you are heeling under sail.
For the "fixed" compass what about one of those kayak compasses designed to be strapped down to the deck of a kayak? With a little bit of ingenuity I think you could come up with a way to strap one down to a thwart.
All of that said, if you really just plan to use this boat in sunny days in relatively protected waters, for safety all I think you really need is a basic backpackers compass (and the knowledge to use it!). If you did get caught out that would be enough to keep you pointed in the right general direction to find shore.
05-28-2007, 06:47 PM
A bit of magnetized needle fixed to a floating cork would be in keeping with a faering, don't you think?
05-28-2007, 08:38 PM
Silva 70 UNE
I use one of these on my catamaran currently. It has an LED for use in the dark.
05-28-2007, 09:34 PM
I like that Silva. That's just the ticket.
I had one of those hand-held locking card types, and the first time it took a fall it broke. It didn't come apart, but the card became irreversably disconnected from the pin. The problem with the backpacker types is that they need to be pretty close to level to work. Not much use in a small boat.
I think both Suunto and Silva are Scandihooligan companies. Get any compass and mount it in a nice dovetail box with a slot to fit over somewhre to keep it fore and aft. It'll look impressive when you open the box to start figuring. Learn to do a three point fix.
Maybe you could inscribe the inside of the box with mnemonic: True Virgins Make Dull Company
05-28-2007, 10:28 PM
The one I was talking about looked like the silva but had the trigger . I'm thinking it was a suunto now.
The reason is that I still have a small palm held type suunto from 1983, it crapped out in the first year I had it, the retailer wouldn't stand by it and I swore that I'd never own another. So now I'm thinking, they have I product I covet but can't have because I resent em for shafting me. Yep, I think it was Suunto.
Not that I hold a grudge or anything. But I do curse them everytime that suunto emerges from amongst the charts and pencils.:D
Compass to true add east.
05-29-2007, 05:22 PM
Variation East , compass reads Least , as we say on this side. I've always gotten good results with the top of the line hiking compasses ,Sunto or Silva (Ranger ) , the biggest ones with the fold down mirror top . They're liquid filled ; just set them as level as possible in the bottom of the boat and you've got a steering compass . Under sail that means not on the centerline . The compasses have a gate you center the needle in so parralax is not a problem .When rowing you can place it just so : when you're fully extended aft and about to begin your stroke you can glance down and if the needle isn't aligned with the gate ,adjust the stroke accordingly.
They're a good hand bearing compass , and with the bearing set on the compass it is simply set down to steer by or opened up to plot on the chart .Opened up flat , the transparent compass itself is the plotting tool ,long enough for the needs of most small boat navigation . The reach can be extended with the tautly stretched lanyard .
For using a chart in an open boat this is a nice way to go Gert . On these top of the line models a small screw adjustment indexes the card to the local magnetic variation . So you can simply align the lines on the compass bottom with the charts meridians or parallels ,set one edge against the feature sited and strike a line of position with the bearing just set on the compass . Conversely the edge of the compass body can be aligned to the desired course and the cap twisted to index the compass to the chart. Then you just set the compass down and steer the course . Try it , you'll like it !
06-02-2007, 11:53 PM
It's not easy to steer from a hocky puck, except the really old ones where you could see the card from the top, and hiking compasses are not dampened to take a boat's motion. You can stop and use them like a hiking compass in your hand, but that's not boat stuff. About the cheapest is a kayak compass. Easy to read. Strapable most anywhere. Easy to get away from the metal board.
06-03-2007, 01:49 AM
I have a nice Silva 85 - screw mounts on a flat horizontal surface and is designed for dinghy sailing. It is going at the aft end of the centercase on the Pathfinder, but then I dont have a steel CB. It will be a bit useless for getting a really accurate bearing (but then its not designed for that) but should be fine for sailing in sight of land when the fog rolls in :-)
Just curious - does how far do you have mount (or hold) a compass away from CB size lump of steel? The only thing with the 85 is that it doesn't have any compensators which might be an issue here.
06-03-2007, 09:52 AM
Before mounting the compass, place it and turn the boat a bit on good sighting and ranging objects. It's easy to eliminate massivly wrong places without a whole swinging.
Put the compass aobut where you think it could go. Stick it on with duct tape if need be. Start with the boat aimed at anything that makes a stable range - the ends of two docks, a couple of trees, a tree trunk and a house corner or whatever. For a small boat, aim by marking the center of the transom and, standing in the water, sight center transom over the bow. Note the compass bearing. Turn the boat 180 with the ranges lined up now sighting bow to transom. If the compass reading is not 180 different, you have issues.
Try some other ranges or same range but with the compass oriented in the boat differently, as it's easy to have deviation (that's the compass error in the boat as opposed to variation with is the local difference between mag north and polar north) zero in one or two directions and massive about 90 degrees off those.
You can't fix the board, so find a spot where the compass is far enough away that there's no noticable effect. Sometimes, that spot will be right atop the rear of the trunk with board down, but there will be deviation with board up. You may have to move the compass back to the stern sheets and read it looking down through a plate of glass. On my dory with the flat base kayak compass, I just lay it on the bottom, squaring it by pushing it against a frame.
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