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Old 12-09-2008, 10:34   #1
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The orienteering compass

One handy little tool sailors often forget to consider as a navigational aid is the simple orienteering compass which one can get for about $7.

Laid on a chart, one can take a bearing. A dial allows you to easily compensate for magnetic variation. The direction of travel arrow can be pointed at an object and used to take a hand bearing, almost as easily as with a hand bearing compass. It can be placed parallel to the center line of a boat and used as the ships compass. It' small size makes it easy to use on a folded up map in the cockpit.

I'm not recommending by any means it should be used to in place of traditional navigation tools, but it for trailer sailing or day sailing it can offer a cheap back up to line of sight navigation. It can easily and cheaply be kept in the cockpit and used as a quick tool to verify GPS settings, and at $7, it's an extremely affordable backup, even if not quite as accurate or simple for each task.

I've used one out sight of land in both sea kayaking and sailing.
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Old 12-09-2008, 18:42   #2
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I have navagated around many a mountain with just such a compass. I have one on my boat now as an emergency back up and when off the boat in new areas. There is much that can be done with one of these, but you are right, most wouldn't consider it on a boat.
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Old 16-09-2008, 09:05   #3
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Am I missing something? I have a few orienteering compasses from cheeep, cheeep to relatively expensive including a military style lensatic. I've used them for lots of land navigation. Why wouldn't people normally consider them for taking visual bearings when in sight of land? They can be extremely accurate!
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Old 16-09-2008, 09:43   #4
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They do work well. I've got a silva explorer, but would like one I can dial in declination and leave it...

Either correcting the chart for true if sitting still, or the compass for true...
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Old 16-09-2008, 09:45   #5
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I don't know. Maybe once on a boat you think "Boat Stuff" and that was not introduced to most as boat stuff. In fact unless you are into orienteering, most would see it as a Boy Scout item. As for acuracy. You bet they are acurate. Even the little Silva modles for about $8.00 which are marked every two degrees can get you anywhere with pinpoint acuracy.
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Old 16-09-2008, 12:46   #6
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Quote:
Why wouldn't people normally consider them for taking visual bearings when in sight of land? They can be extremely accurate!
I think many do. I have a hockey puck style hand bearing compass it works well for sighting objects. My only complaint with all of them is with corrective eye glasses most of them are hard to use.
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Old 16-09-2008, 12:47   #7
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Originally Posted by wlearl View Post
...Why wouldn't people normally consider them for taking visual bearings when in sight of land? They can be extremely accurate!
Exactly why I posted this. I had one hanging from the binnacle on my first boat and ended up using it all the time because it was easier than going down to the nav station. One time, I even used it to navigate back across the gulf stream just for the heck of it. (Had a GPS available had I needed it)

There are some that let you correct for declination (magnetic variation) so you don't need to compensate every time.
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