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Old 13-11-2018, 12:29   #16
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

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Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
Ocelot came with a 5" Venus (C. Plath) compass. After 8 years, the diaphragm failed & all the fluid ran out (in French Polynesia). Since we couldn't send it away, we repaired it as best we could with the resources we could find. The diaphragm failed again 5 years later, then 4 years after that, and 4 years after that (last year).

We now find that Plath expects you to send your compass back to them every 5 years for refurbishment (for US$300+shipping). They repair it for 2 weeks & ship it back. Assuming we could get it back into the countries we cruise (very problematic in Indonesia) we'd be without a compass for more than a month every 5 years.

For a compass that lists for over US$ 1,600, this strikes us as silly.

Our Sestral Moore compass on our last boat was 25 years old & worked perfectly. Friends here have a 100 year old compass (on their 100 year old boat).

Our questions:
  • Is having to send our main navigational compass back for refurbishment every 5 years (for a month) reasonable?
  • Are there any long time cruisers who can recommend more reliable compasses?
Thanks!
......what is a compass?
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how long has this been going on and why wasn't I told about it earlier.....
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Old 13-11-2018, 12:45   #17
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

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The magnetic compass is a relic, unfortunately. I removed mine a long time ago. A $50 flux gate is better in every respect, a $600 solid state compass is superior to anything else and a $2,000 GPS compass is just amazing. Plus, it is much easier to keep a compass course on a chart plotter.

Keep a small magnetic compass as a backup somewhere but if you are spending serious money on a compass, consider the alternatives
A magnetic compass is far from a "relic". On the contrary it's the most used instrument on any boat. you might look at it subconsiously but you do all the time. its also the most reliable (generally speaking) If you've swung your compass (and you all should) to minimize error. its a long lasting trouble free instrument that will help you navigate long after your battery has died.

its the only instrument that you can purchase for your boat that isn't rendered obselete by advances in technology. or changes of service (SatNav, Loran,etc.)

And best of all it requires almost not training to use. anyone can point north ( or east or west, etc.) and use it to find land
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Old 13-11-2018, 12:51   #18
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

I have a Danforth Constellation southern hemisphere compass that I would swap out when below the equator. Pm me if interested.

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Old 13-11-2018, 13:02   #19
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Good life and performance from our Ritchie binnacle compass, now ~ 24 years old... no repairs or issues so far.

Jim

Same with my Ritchie Globemaster, which, ours being a steel boat, sports the amusingly named "compensator balls".
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Old 13-11-2018, 13:20   #20
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

My boat came with a Plastimo 135 Olympic when she was built in the mid 1980s... https://www.plastimo.com/en/compas-olympic-5718.html

Still doing the job it is payed to do... only issue is that the 'glass' dome has darkened a little.

Comes as standard 'world balanced'.

Would buy another....
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Old 13-11-2018, 13:42   #21
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

My last boat had a Ritchie--but I also have used the Japanese Saura and had no problems with it beyond those that any magnetic compass has--keep wiring well away from them and have them properly adjusted and correctly swung.


I am waiting for the day someone invents an electronic gyro compass that can be used on small vessels.
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Old 13-11-2018, 13:55   #22
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

Binnacle-mounted Ritchies are (figure of speech) bullet-proof.
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Old 13-11-2018, 13:56   #23
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

further to my post about Ritchie compasses: you can get iPad and iPhone (assume Android too) apps which seem very accurate.
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Old 13-11-2018, 16:20   #24
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

Ritchie has never let me down. I have a few reliable Suunto bearing compasses also.
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Old 13-11-2018, 16:37   #25
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

[QUOTE=El Pinguino;2761049]My boat came with a Plastimo 135 Olympic when she was built in the mid 1980s... https://www.plastimo.com/en/compas-olympic-5718.html

Still doing the job it is payed to do... only issue is that the 'glass' dome has darkened a little..../QUOTE]

Over the last few weeks, I too pondered about compasses, checked new prices and Ebay.
My compass had a large air bubble and perspex dome was bit crazed and yellowish, I guess due to age >30 years. Then I decided to polish the dome, which was surprisingly thin ie 2 mm, but it improved the visuals dramatically and decision was made to keep the old compass on the boat and money in my pocket. Rinsed the bowl, removed the crud, I refilled with new fluid; for this compass it was white spirits. Just now in the process replacing the single light with 3 small LEDs.

When I looked on the net, Ritchie and Autonautic seemed the most desirable and available here in Oz. My previous boat had an old Danforth (now Viking), that worked well and was never serviced in 15 years I owned it.

As others said before, most of us hand steer via a screen and not a compass anymore. However when I am underway, I uncover the compass and glance at it often, even when on auto pilot, and I can see the compass and approx heading from the other side of the cockpit, while I can not see the small numbers on the screen.... Yes, I know I can reconfigure the display to show a big compass .
If nothing else, I think a good (swung) compass is a very good insurance, a cheap compass is still a good insurance.
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Old 13-11-2018, 16:49   #26
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

Ritchie is hands down the best I have ever had.
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Old 13-11-2018, 17:14   #27
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

Another hearty vote for Ritchie.
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Old 13-11-2018, 17:20   #28
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

[QUOTE=HankOnthewater;2761155]
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
My boat came with a Plastimo 135 Olympic when she was built in the mid 1980s... https://www.plastimo.com/en/compas-olympic-5718.html

Still doing the job it is payed to do... only issue is that the 'glass' dome has darkened a little..../QUOTE]


As others said before, most of us hand steer via a screen and not a compass anymore. However when I am underway, I uncover the compass and glance at it often, even when on auto pilot, and I can see the compass and approx heading from the other side of the cockpit, while I can not see the small numbers on the screen.... Yes, I know I can reconfigure the display to show a big compass .
If nothing else, I think a good (swung) compass is a very good insurance, a cheap compass is still a good insurance.
Have the same as Pinguino, a Plastimo Olympic mounted on the binnacle. Had the compass calibrated and a new deviation curve done when I bought the boat 4 yrs ago. By absolute chance, I found the original deviation curve among old boat papers, from 1983. Less than 1 deg difference at max dev amplitude. Not bad for a 35 yr old gadget.

Different habits, I guess. I use the plotter in the shallows/channels and occasionally only to check I'm on true course (or to set a new magnetic course). For the rest, I navigate on the magnetic compass.
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Old 13-11-2018, 17:27   #29
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

Maybe it's because I bought a cheap Ritchie, (F50) but while underway it would swing through a 20-40 degree range while holding a course. Made it useless. I will allow for the possibility I hadn't calibrated it properly.
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Old 13-11-2018, 17:48   #30
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Re: Reliable Compasses for Cruising

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Maybe it's because I bought a cheap Ritchie, (F50) but while underway it would swing through a 20-40 degree range while holding a course. Made it useless. I will allow for the possibility I hadn't calibrated it properly.
When holding a steady course and the compass shows a variation of headings you described, means there are external forces on the compass, ie magnetic materials or a wire conducting DC current. BTW, even having a knife ie Leatherman in your pocket and you turning round or walking past might cause errors in the compass.

There are 3 processes to make a compass more useful: aligning, compensating and swinging a compass. The aligning is described here: https://www.jamestowndistributors.co....do?docId=1053.
Compensating minimises the errors, although many small compasses do not come with compensating magnets.
The last process (swinging) produces a deviation chart, that shows the errors for each course you sail, ok, not "every" course but in increments ie each 10 degrees or each of the 16 cardinal points (22.5 degrees).

Now back to the question about suitable compasses for cruisers.....
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